If the Catholic intellectual tradition is the heart and soul of this University, research is its blood and bones. In creating Catholic University as a graduate research institution in 1887, the bishops of the United States sought to establish a place where the Church could do its thinking, an institution that would go beyond the preservation of learning and teaching to also encompass the advancement of knowledge through research in all fields.

The history of research and discovery at Catholic University is voluminous.

  • Albert F. Zahm built America’s first wind tunnel equipped with instruments for scientific study here in 1901.
  • Rev. Eugene Xavier Henri Hyvernat, a member of the University’s original faculty, began assembling resources for the study of Coptic languages as early as 1889, an effort that  laid the foundation for the extraordinary collection of rare books in the Catholic University Semitics Library, which is widely used today.
  • Justine Bayard Ward developed the groundbreaking Ward Method of music instruction in 1929, which had a profound effect on how music was taught in Catholic schools throughout the 20th century and even today.
  • Catholic University physics professor Clyde Cowan was co-discoverer, with Frederick Reines, of the elementary subatomic particle called the neutrino. For this discovery, first announced in 1956, Reines was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1995. He received the prize in both his and Cowan’s names.

Recent and current research at Catholic University is no less impressive.

  • Duilia de Mello works closely with graduate students in our Department of Physics conducting research in extragalactic astronomy in Catholic University’s center at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She and her team recently discovered a nursery of stars in the intergalactic medium that have been nicknamed “blue blobs.”
  • Philosophy professor Timothy Noone has scrutinized transcriptions of lectures by philosopher-theologian John Duns Scotus from the early 1300s to prepare and publish new critical editions of his work.
  • Venigalla B. Rao, with help from graduate students in the Department of Biology, is working on breakthrough research fusing DNA fragments to construct multicomponent vaccines against anthrax, plague, and HIV.
  • Psychology professor David A. Jobes involves graduate students in research for The Suicide Prevention Lab. Currently the lab is conducting a multiyear randomized clinical trial with active-duty Army soldiers who are suicidal.
  • Scott Mathews and the graduate students who work in the Laser Micro-Fabrication Laboratory here at Catholic University are researching artificial electromagnetic materials and frequency-selective surfaces, thin film magnetic sensors, and use of lasers in detection of high explosives.

Virtually every Catholic University graduate student is engaged in research under the guidance of our faculty. With its 12 schools and breadth of programs in the humanities, sciences, engineering, social sciences, arts, professions, and ecclesiastical programs, The Catholic University of America has created a dynamic environment for intellectual growth and the advancement of knowledge through research.