As the East Coast tracked the approach of Hurricane Sandy, Research on the Road beat a path westward to bring acclaimed Beatles scholar Kenneth Womack to Santa Monica where he gave a talk on Sunday to our enthusiastic Los Angeles area alumni chapter.
The venue couldn’t have been more appropriate for Ken’s talk on “50 Years of The Beatles.” The Britannia is a popular restaurant/pub with Penn State alumni (and an eclectic mix of local hipsters and British ex-pats) in the L.A. area and has Beatles’ memorabilia adorning the walls.
We’re feeling a bit like proud parents around here lately. Research Unplugged—the Penn State speaker series that took its original inspiration from Europe’s vibrant Cafe Scientifique scene—turned nine years old this fall! With last season’s decision to partner with (and hold events at) Schlow Center Region Library, a weekly turnout of 75 to 100 area residents of all ages, and vibrant Q&A sessions on topics across the disciplines, Unplugged is not only surviving but thriving!
I just blew in from the Windy City where we had a very successful Research on the Road event with the good folks from the Greater Chicago Chapter of our Alumni Association.
Research on the Road is the University’s new speaker series that brings Penn State faculty to alumni chapters around the country for lively conversations on a wide assortment of research topics. And lively it was! We were so fortunate to have Jerry Zolten, “roots music” historian and associate professor of communication arts and sciences, as our speaker, and to have more than fifty enthusiastic Penn State alumni and friends in attendance at one of Chicago’s most famous blues clubs, Buddy Guy’s Legends.
For many of us, summer travel means vacation, a time to take a mental break from the work that occupies us the rest of the year. Not so for many researchers. It’s not that they’re staying put at home—far from it! But summer travel means something different to them.
Take professor of musicology Marica Tacconi, for example. Her summer schedule may sound glamorous, with trips to Florence and Bologna, but some folks misunderstand the nature of her sojourn and think she’s on vacation. She’s happy to remind them that she’s not there for the sightseeing, shopping or even the food and wine.
You know that word-nerd friend of yours who relishes correcting everyone’s typos and grammatical slip-ups? Now picture dozens of that type in the same place for four days. Yes, that’s the basic scenario of the annual meeting (from which I just returned) of URMA, the University Research Magazine Association, a professional organization for those who write, edit, design, and publish magazines about academic, non-profit, or institute research. If you’re an URMAn (a member of URMA and the wider URMAnity, naturally) the chance to get together with our own kind— pencils sharpened, iPads charged and glowing, and Twitter accounts chirping—is exactly the kind of geeky career development experience we look forward to all year.