Sept. 10, 2009

Spreading the (research) news

by Paula Van Brocklin

Iowa State is one of 35 top research universities posting their latest discoveries in the sciences, medicine, business and the humanities on a new web site,

The universities all are members of the Association of American Universities (AAU), a 62-member nonprofit organization of public and private universities in the United States and Canada dedicated to advancing research education.

Why now?

About six months ago, public relations leaders from the AAU universities began brainstorming on how to spread the word about important research achievements, despite the dwindling number of scientific journalists and news outlets.

"As the news hole shrinks, universities are not getting coverage for science and scholarship like we used to," said Bill Murphy, vice president for communication, University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y.

Murphy and other AAU communications leaders came up with the idea of creating one web site where the media, educators and others interested in science could get the latest research information.

"Our mission is to help the public understand and appreciate what our universities are doing," Murphy said. debuted earlier this summer, and a national marketing campaign kicks off next week.

Interested in the latest research developments from Iowa State and other AAU universities? Sign up to receive daily e-mail summaries at

Benefit to ISU

Since June, Iowa State has had nearly 10 research breakthroughs posted on, from better-fitting fire fighter gear to the effect of declining wind speeds on the wind power industry. ISU's research lives alongside the latest discoveries from Yale, Princeton and Duke.

"It's important for Iowa State to actively participate in, and to share information about the wide range of research being conducted here," said John McCarroll, ISU's executive director of university relations.