Rice is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), a group of 62 leading U.S. research universities that earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for academic research and award more than half of all U.S. doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and social sciences, yet make up only 8 percent of all four-year Ph.D.-granting universities. In 2016–2017, Rice President David Leebron served as AAU chair. At the time of his election, Leebron said, “We must continue to nourish the research that advances understanding of our world and our humanity and, through that knowledge, produces the scientific and social innovations that address the challenges we face.”