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Futurity celebrates five years of ‘cool science’

September 15, 2014
plastic dinosaur wearing a birthday hat with the text Happy Birthday Futurity

Why do we eat more snacks when watching action movies? Can a plant on your desk boost productivity? Could computers be our best weapons to fight the flu?

For the last five years, Futurity has shared answers to these and other questions scientists are investigating at research universities around the world.

The non-profit website—hosted and edited at the University of Rochester—features the work of researchers from more than 60 universities and in a variety of topics, including science, technology, health, culture, education, and the environment.

But what prompted this innovative collaboration, especially among institutions that often compete with each other for resources and attention? The main factor was the changing media landscape of the previous decade.

Futurity by the Numbers

  • 62 participating universities from 6 countries
  • 14 new stories published per day on average
  • 10K stories published in the past 5 years
  • 8,200 newsletter subscribers
  • 14K Twitter followers
  • 72K Facebook fans
  • 50% of website traffic from mobile devices (phones and tablets)

Bringing you the latest discoveries

“It became increasingly challenging for universities to share in-depth research with the public through traditional print and online news channels,” explains Jenny Leonard, Futurity’s editor.

“Universities are incubators for research discoveries. And many of those discoveries have the potential to affect our everyday lives in meaningful ways,” continues Leonard. “We wanted to create a website that would offer a big-picture view of what’s happening today in research.”

Thus was born Futurity, a direct, visual, and engaging means of connecting readers online with new research. The site’s unofficial motto? Cool science, cool photos.

“The team has found a distinctive style that marries compelling visuals with great storytelling,” says Bill Murphy, vice president for communications at the University and a member of Futurity’s governing board.

And as the media landscape continues to change, Futurity is responding by embracing new media, social media, and mobile-friendly design. “Wherever people look for news, we plan to be there,” explains Leonard.

Rochester origin, international reach

At its launch in 2009, Futurity comprised 40 institutions from the U.S. and Canada, and it remains headquartered here at Rochester.

But over the years the site has selectively added more schools, including ones from Europe, Asia, and Australia. “The large number of universities interested in partnering with Futurity is a testament to the team’s terrific work in presenting research news,” says Murphy.

The plan is to continue growing the site by adding institutions that conduct cutting-edge research. And as research continues to drive innovation and economic development, Futurity will continue to showcase the latest contributions from universities worldwide.

Follow Futurity on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to receive daily Futurity updates in your inbox.

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Category: University News

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