Science and Innovation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In the early days of the pandemic Coconino County recruited more than a dozen students from Northern Arizona University to work as contact tracers. Melinda Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in NAU’s Interdisciplinary Health program, was part of the monitoring team that follows up with people who have come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with Smith about how the work could be emotionally difficult… and also become politicized over time.


National Park Service, Lake Mead National Recreation Area

New projections from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation show the chances of future water shortages on the Colorado River have risen sharply following a dry year. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.


Six western states have voiced opposition to the planned Lake Powell Pipeline, which would divert water from the Colorado River to fast-growing cities in southern Utah. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.


AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Firefighters are tamping down on recent record-breaking wildfires in California. But KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports, scientists say bigger and more frequent blazes are here to stay.

Chris Richards/University of Arizona

A new smartphone app can anonymously alert people if they’ve been in close proximity to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.  “COVIDWatch” uses Bluetooth to connect with nearby phones that also have the app installed, and alerts users when they’ve been close to an infected person for a significant amount of time. It’s being tested for the first time at the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University is considering adopting it. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with Joanna Masel, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the U of A who designed the app’s risk assessment technology.


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