Emory Report
September 21, 2009
Volume 62, Number 4


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September 21, 2009
Futurity.org gives direct access to research discoveries

By Beverly Clark

A group of leading research universities has launched Futurity, an online research channel covering the latest discoveries in science, engineering, the environment, health and more. Emory is one of 35 partners supporting the project.

Futurity gives the public direct access to exciting research breakthroughs in a way that offers broad appeal, says Nancy Seideman, executive director of media relations and associate vice president of communications.

“Futurity allows major research universities like Emory and its peers to build a bridge between the academic community and the public,” Seideman says. “It gives us a dynamic portal with clear writing and a lot of multimedia that communicates the cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research that is shaping our understanding of ourselves and our world.”

Futurity has featured a number of studies by Emory scientists in recent weeks, including a discovery by Emory paleontologist Anthony Martin of dinosaur burrows in Australia. His research was covered by numerous outlets including National Geographic. Other recent Emory features includes immunologist Max Cooper’s research on an unusual set of tools for fighting infection, a discovery that sheds new light on water and ice by physicist Eric Weeks; and a flu vaccine skin patch developed at Emory and Georgia Tech.

The site has also covered work in the humanities, including Emory Law professor John Witte’s book on the societal costs of illegitimacy, and history and political science professor Harvey Klehr’s book examining the history of KGB spies in the United States, as well as religion professor Deborah Lipstadt’s work to establish the Holocaust Denial on Trial [HDOT.org] Web site in four new languages.

Bill Murphy, one of Futurity’s cofounders and vice president for communications at the University of Rochester, says universities are affected by the challenges facing newspapers today. News holes are shrinking, he notes, and coverage of research-related stories has been hit particularly hard.

“In light of this shifting news landscape, universities are looking for ways to share important breakthroughs with the public. Futurity gives our partners an opportunity to communicate in a new and direct way—and to remind the public why research matters.”

All of the stories on Futurity are edited to stir the imagination, says Murphy. “We want the stories to engage readers, to raise questions, and to make readers want to learn more—and to come back for more.”

Since launching a beta version in March, Futurity has continued to add membership and readership.

The site is designed to encourage interaction. Stories include links to published reports and supplemental materials that allow readers to explore topics in more detail. The site is available in a mobile friendly version, and visitors can comment on stories and sign up for a daily e-mail update.

Emory, like all the current partner universities, is a member of the Association of American Universities, a nonprofit organization of leading public and private research universities.