Shelley Smithson

Freelance Reporter

When it comes to overall health, Arizona fared a little better this year in the America’s Health Rankings survey of 50 states.

Now, it’s time for a gut check. Literally.  A researcher at Northern Arizona University is working with a team of scientists trying to unravel what lives inside our guts.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, Sept. 7, 2012, PDT

Later this year, the Mars Rover Curiosity is scheduled to begin its longest road trip yet, to Mount Sharp.  That’s a three-mile-high mountain on Mars that tells the planet’s geologic history in the same way the Grand Canyon’s exposes earth’s.  But getting Curiosity to its ultimate destination depends on maps and cameras.  That’s where Flagstaff’s office of the U.S. Geological Survey comes in.

Health care, immigration and jobs are all headliner issues in the race for Arizona’s open U.S. Senate seat.

A topic that hasn’t grabbed much attention is the environment.

Arizona Public Radio asked environmental and business groups what questions they would like to ask the candidates about environmental issues.

Steve Arnquist, executive director of the Arizona League of Conservation Voters, asked this question:

Diabetes, alcoholism and obesity all disproportionately afflict Native Americans.

The reasons are many, including poverty and lack of education.

But a new $6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will examine what works in Native American health care.

The grant will fund a new Center for American Indian Resilience.

Northern Arizona University Assistant Professor Priscilla Sanderson is co-director of the new center.

She says researchers want to learn how Native Americans can draw on their cultural traditions to stay healthy.

Shelley Smithson

The sun bears down on Brett Isaac and his team of workers. They’re bolting solar panels onto a large array at the Tolani Lake Enterprises office building.

“This is 39 panels. And these PV panels will produce 9.9 kw every hour,” Isaac says.  

That’s more kilowatts than this non-profit organization on the Navajo Nation will use.  

So they’ll sell the rest to the utility company.

“Tolani Lake Enterprise, what we’re about is economic development. But we’re about sustainable economic development.”   

Caroline Palmer /

Ninth grader Nate Darkins grins from ear-to-ear as he listens to a tour leader describe the Clark Telescope at Lowell Observatory.

The 23rd Flagstaff Festival of Science begins tonight, and this year's theme is water. Over the next ten days, there will be dozens of water-related events, including a talk by the grand daughter of legendary filmmaker, Jacques Cousteau. Arizona Public Radio's Shelley Smithson spoke with festival organizer Bonnie Stevens.

*Cousteau's talk is tonight at 7:00 at NAU's Ardrey Auditorium*

Despite this year’s abundant monsoon season, researchers say climate change could be pushing the Southwest into a period of sustained drought. 


Beginning this year, high school seniors in Arizona will have to clear another hurdle before winning their diplomas.