Hello!  Welcome back to the Penny University blog.  I hope that everyone had a great Summer.  I wanted to update everyone on the progress of our launch.  You have probably noticed that is has been delayed (since it is most definitely Autumn 2012 right now).  This is due to a current biological botheration, where I am unable to hear everything all of the time, which makes audio recording and editing rather difficult!  As it seems this slight complication is going to persist for a while longer, we thought it was time that we officially launch Penny University with a slightly altered format, henceforth known as Launch: Stage 1.  Once this issue has been resolved, the podcast can start in earnest, with Launch: Stage 2.  I mean, Penny University is going to be so good, it really deserves two official launches anyway, right?

Call for researchers: If you are PhD student or post-doc, no matter whether you’ve just started a new research project or you already have some exciting results, then now is the time to get in touch with Penny University!  We’re looking for people to get involved with Launch: Stage 1 and Launch: Stage 2 – so even if you are really busy at the moment you can register your interest to get involved in the future.  It will only take a few minutes of your time, so head on over to our contact section and get in touch for more details – we can’t wait to hear from you!

Now, until our next thrilling update, when we’ll announce the date of Launch: Stage 1, remember: “Every honest researcher I know admits he’s just a professional amateur.  He’s doing whatever he’s doing for the first time.  That makes him an amateur.  He has sense enough to know that he’s going to have a lost of trouble, so that makes him a professional.” – Charles Franklin Kettering

Breaking Ground

Hello and welcome to the first ever blog post on Penny University.  We are just breaking ground on this new project and would like to invite you to have a look around the website.  We’re still under construction, but the basic structure has already been built (well, we have a name and a logo, which I think is a pretty good starting point).  As we approach the grand opening this Autumn, we’ll be adding new information to the website, so try not to be surprised if you see a few changes every now and then.

I want to start this project off, by extending my warmest thanks to everyone over at I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here; staff, teachers, and of course the students!  I am very happy and incredibly proud to have been voted winner of the 7-11 zone in the Wellcome Trust’s In the Zone event.  Over a period of ten weeks, forty scientists participated in over 115 live-chats with more than 1600 students from a number of schools across the UK – and answered over 1700 questions on topics ranging from the tiniest cells in the human body to the largest features of the universe!  It was an incredible opportunity and definitely one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in science engagement.  I encourage you to take some time to visit their website and discover all of the amazing, insightful, and unusual curiosity-driven questions from the students I had the pleasure to interact with over the last few months.

Now, as a winner of I’m a Scientist I am lucky to be given £500 to spend on science engagement.  Past winners have done everything from produce short films about scientists and their lives (both inside and outside the labs) to writing books on specialist science subjects for schools.  I decided that with my prize money I wanted to create an online science podcast, as a way of engaging people with science, whether it is kids or adults – and regardless of whether they have absolutely no experience in science or they are conducting advanced scientific experiments in a state-of-the-art laboratories.  The aim of this project to create a show that will be accessible to anyone and everyone who listens, whether we’re mastering mathematics or studying sociology with our featured researchers.

Over the next few weeks and months we’ll be preparing for the launch of Penny University: buying the necessary equipment and software, organising the schedule of featured researchers, recording interviews for our first few episodes, and promoting our website far-and-wide across the internet.  As a special ‘nod of thanks’ to I’m a Scientist and all the students who voted for me to win, our very first episode will feature questions from the students who took part in the event.  But in order to keep Penny University up and running if you have a burning question you want answered, know of an exciting recent discovery in science, or are a scientist who would like your research featured on the show then we would love to hear from you, as we’ll be trying to use as many audience suggestions as possible in future episodes.

Thank you so much for visiting our website and for supporting us in the early days of this project.  I am already excited for the day we release the first episode of Penny University and I hope that all of you are too.  I will post here with any interesting updates in the lead up to our launch, so until next time, remember: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.  The important thing is to not stop questioning.” ― Albert Einstein