Editor’s Note: Over the summer we sent out a series of questions to a whole slew of D.C. area universities in order to get an insider’s look at what makes for a highly successful, efficient, and, well, awesome research institution. As a result we received an onslaught on information proving what we already know: our local schools know how to create innovative, inspired research, though their stellar work often escapes the purview of  the general public. Georgetown University is one of those schools that flies under the radar. Know another university that deserves recognition for its amazing research efforts? Send a tip over to molly@inthecapital.com.

As one of the world’s leading academic and research institutions, Georgetown certainly has its fair share of impressive projects in the works. It has been classified as a Very High Research Activity (RU/VH) University by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, just one of many accolades Georgetown can boast of, made plainly clear in an interview with Janet Mann, Vice Provost for Research.

Mann attested to how welcoming Georgetown is to up-and-coming researchers, noting that the innovators on campus secured more than $200 million in research awards during fiscal year 2010. With 400 scientists working tirelessly on clinical research projects and 300 active clinical trials to date, it’s no wonder Georgetown has found so much success in the research department.

She also highlighted the below initiatives, all recent changes made on campus to better support research ventures or efforts already excelling on school grounds:

  • We recently announced Janet Mann, professor of biology and psychology, in a new faculty-based vice-provost position of Vice-Provost for Research, with the goal of stimulating, supporting and incentivizing research at Georgetown.
  • Our new science center, Regents Hall, a major research facility which houses our biology, chemistry and physics departments and contains twelve teaching labs and more than three floors of research laboratories, recently earned LEED Gold certification.
  • This past year, we opened our Health Disparities Research Center, a community-based office located in Southeast D.C. that is designed to research and reduce cancer disparities among minority and underserved communities in the nation’s capital.
  • The Georgetown Environment Initiative is a multi-campus effort that seeks to advance the interdisciplinary study of the environment in relation to society and stewardship of natural resources.

Their recent studies aren’t anything to scoff about either, for Georgetown’s faculty are looking into highly relevant, interesting topics such as consumers’ attitudes toward sweatshops. It was researchers at the Georgetown University Medical center that led the way for the invention of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine too, managing to “cut the number of HPV infections in half nationwide,” according to Mann. They’ve also made significant finding related to Alzheimer’s Disease and climate change.

Mann couldn’t help but gloat about student involvement in research activity as well. There’s the Georgetown University Research Opportunities Program (GUROP), which allows students to work directly with faculty on projects, among other chances for undergrads to help change the world for the better. These are some of different opportunities Mann shared with us:

  • We offer a number of institutional undergraduate research programs, with funding and housing included, during both the academic year and the summer. This includes our Howard Hughes Program, a university grants initiative with Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) that provides a four-year research intensive curriculum for Georgetown undergraduates who intend to pursue a career in research and an innovative pre-college program that supports progress of underrepresented DC high school students toward enrolling in college science programs. See a full list of research programs here.

Students have the opportunity to pursue research elsewhere as well, not just through the above programs, Mann added.” There are also “one-on-one interactions they are afforded with faculty at Georgetown. With a 12:1 student-faculty ratio, the university gives students the opportunity to work directly with leading academics, participate in groundbreaking research, and become published in top scholarly journals.”

One example she used was of Rachel Barr, an associate professor of psychology and “one of the world’s experts in infant cognition.” Not only has she published over 48 papers – 34 journal articles, 9 book chapters, 5 encyclopedia chapters, and 5 commentaries – since joining Georgetown in 2001, but in her 12 year tenure alone, Barr managed to publish 23 journal articles as well as a couple of book chapters with graduate and undergraduate authors. Her teaching speaks for itself though, as Barr has done conference presentations for 56 undergraduates, 17 of which have “co-authored peer-reviewed publications and occasionally been first author,” Mann explained.

Barr has published 16 articles with 10 graduate students too, clearly an advantageous mentor to have. Especially when you consider all of the outstanding awards her students have received. Psi Chi, the National Psychology Honors Society, and the Eastern Psychological Society, just to name a few.

Georgetown hires influential researchers with truly impactful mentorship capabilities, understanding the value of research as evident by the plentiful amount of resources available on campus, and continuing to reign as one of the most highly competitive research institutions in America.