Since 1900, the Association of American Universities (AAU) has existed to recognize and help the best research universities in North America. By “research universities,” they mean those public and private schools that engage in excellent research scholarship that can make a difference in people’s lives, particularly in the fields of engineering and science. Membership in the Association comes by invitation. Currently the AAU has 60 U.S. and two Canadian universities among its members. The U.S. schools in their membership award close to half of the doctoral degrees in the country, and as of 2011, over 58 percent of federal funds awarded to research colleges in the U.S. was awarded to schools that were members of the AAU. That funding total is over 23 million dollars.
If you go to their website, you will find fascinating articles on some of the cutting edge projects that AAU member universities are involved in, including projects connecting the brain and the immune system, research into the bumblebee population, and research on human cells. These reflect just a small amount of the topics that their research universities are working on. If you’re interested in seeing more research topics, you can go to the section of their website under the tab “latest research on campuses” and search through an alphabetical listing of AAU member schools. Clicking on these schools, which begin with Boston University and end with Yale, takes you to their specific research pages. There you can learn more about the innovative work being done in math, science, the environment, engineering, and other scholastic areas.
Research universities face a number of challenges and issues that the AAU can help them to address. Because these schools are involved in innovative research in the sciences, they are sometimes affected by government policies. So one of the big things that the AAU does is to foster good relationships between their member schools and the government. They look at how the two relate and at policy issues that may affect their universities.
The Association of American Universities advocates and educates on a wide array of policy issues that affect American research universities. They look into issues involving their schools’ accreditation, international programs, and financial aid given to students. They are also involved in supporting government programs and leaders that encourage ongoing innovation in STEM fields that are so vital to keeping the U.S. competitive in the world. A lot of the research at AAU schools encourages the inventiveness that creates technologies many people now depend on. Other policy issues they work on include issues of research dissemination and security, since some research projects include sensitive projects in biology, chemistry, or computers. They help their schools learn more about intellectual property issues. They also keep tabs on federal policies that may affect their schools’ funding and to help them comply with regulations as they go about the challenging job of financing non-profit research universities.
This is just a brief overview of the AAU, which supports and helps research universities in a myriad of ways. If you are considering a career in the STEM fields, and are interested in research scholarship, finding out which schools are are a part of the Association of American Universities could be a good idea.