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Penn Joins as Founding Member of Futurity, Novel Website of News from Leading Research Universities
October 6, 2009, Volume 56, No. 06

The University of Pennsylvania has joined a group of leading research universities to launch Futurity (www.futurity.org), an online research channel covering the latest discoveries in science, engineering, the environment, health and more. Penn is one of 35 founding partners supporting the site, which offers direct access to research news posted by Penn and other universities.

Futurity provides the public with direct access to research breakthroughs by combining visual elements and lay explanation with links to published reports and supplemental materials that allow readers to explore topics in more detail. The site, designed to encourage interaction, is available in a mobile-friendly version, and visitors can comment on stories and sign up for daily e-mail updates.

“With news holes shrinking, Futurity allows major research universities like the University of Pennsylvania and its peers to build a bridge between the academic community and the public,” Steven J. Fluharty, vice president for research at Penn, said. “The site provides both the casual reader with an interest in science—as well as the seasoned researcher or science journalist —with quick access to a comprehensive and varied body of national research.”

Futurity has featured several recent studies by Penn scientists, including a psychology study that demonstrated a link between a shortcut in the brain and America’s struggle with obesity, a microscopic study of the mysterious molecular aging in glass and a biology study that determined that socially adept mothers, in this case baboon mothers, make better parents.

Futurity cofounder Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations at Duke University, says the site serves another vital role. It allows the public to see how federal, state and private funding are being put to use by universities to address critical challenges.

Since launching a beta version in March, Futurity has continued to add membership and readership, as well as look into ways to widen its reach. Futurity is active on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. All current partner universities are members of the Association of American Universities, a nonprofit organization of leading public and private research universities.

Participating universities are listed at http://futurity.org/about.


Almanac - October 6, 2009, Volume 56, No. 06