Melissa Sevigny

Science & Technology Reporter

Melissa grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona and an M.FA. in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University. Her first book, Mythical River, forthcoming from the University of Iowa Press, is about water issues in the Southwest. She has worked as a science communicator for NASA’s Phoenix Mars Scout Mission, the Water Resources Research Center, and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Melissa relocated to Flagstaff in 2015 to join KNAU’s team. She enjoys hiking, fishing and reading fantasy novels.

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Krista Allen / Navajo Times

The Navajo Nation is one of the hardest hit areas by coronavirus in the United States. That presents a grim reality for funeral homes during this crisis. The Navajo Nation has a burial assistance program that helps tribal members with some funeral costs, but of the 11 mortuaries that participate, only two are located in Arizona. The Valley Ridge Mortuary in Tuba City has had to bring on more staff and add a temporary storage unit due to the death toll. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with the mortuary’s director Michael Begay about the emotional impact on himself and his staff.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Coronavirus cases continue to surge in Arizona, while summer weather and the upcoming Fourth of July weekend tempt residents to travel and visit with family and friends. Public health experts say staying safe during the pandemic means staying home as much as possible and managing your “social bubble,” the people who you live with or frequently contact. In KNAU’s weekly update on the science of COVID-19, Melissa Sevigny speaks with infectious disease expert Paul Keim about his personal guidelines for socializing in the pandemic.  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Arizona is one of two dozen U.S. states where coronavirus cases have been on the rise for the past week. Governor Doug Ducey points to increased testing as the cause, but local health experts say hospitalizations are increasing, too. In KNAU’s weekly update on the science of COVID-19, Melissa Sevigny speaks with University of Arizona epidemiologist Dr. Purnima Madhivanan about what’s driving those numbers, who it’s affecting, and why.


Melissa Sevigny

Tenured faculty once made up the majority of teachers at American universities. But over the last several decades, non-tenure-track jobs have been on the rise. Universities have come to rely heavily on a group of teachers called “lecturers” who work on short term contracts, and have much lower salaries than tenured professors. They often teach large lectures of freshmen and help young students navigate college life far beyond the classroom. But their positions are vulnerable, as the coronavirus pandemic made clear when universities began to cut budgets drastically. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports on more than 100 of those job losses at Northern Arizona University.


CDC

Antibodies are an immune response that linger in the blood of people who’ve recovered from a disease. That’s also how vaccines work—they teach the body how to produce those antibodies so it’s ready the next time the disease comes around. There’s no vaccine for COVID-19 yet, but scientists have developed blood tests that can identify antibodies against coronavirus. In KNAU’s weekly update on the science of COIVD-19, Melissa Sevigny spoke with infectious disease expert Dr. Paul Keim about why these antibody tests matter for public health, and what it means when the results say someone is “sero-positive.” 

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