Brain Food: Insights and Discoveries from Northern Arizona


Hungry for more stories on science, culture and technology?

Check out Brain Food: Insights and Discoveries from Northern Arizona. From ground breaking scientific research to global music projects, Brain Food profiles some of the unique projects happening in the region and the interesting people behind them.


Information about Pluto continues to beam back to Earth from the New Horizons space probe. And scientists are finding the data perplexing, enchanting...and surprising!

KNAU/Bonnie Stevens

Tree climbing scientists are going to great heights to find pine genes with the perfect fit for the future.

Hillary Cooper is a biologist at Northern Arizona University. Perched high-up in a Southwestern White Pine on Mount Elden, she gathers cones for an experiment to see if they'll grow in warmer, drier conditions. "It wasn't too windy today," Cooper says, "but we had to climb pretty high on about a 4" trunk and then really stretch out to get those cones at the tippy top."

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a huge floating island of plastic. Twice the size of Texas, it's riding the ocean currents between California and Japan, threatening sea life along the way. Flagstaff-based marine scientist Maria Campbell studies ocean micro plastics with the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science. She says the plastics absorb harmful chemicals in the water.

Chris Downum

Archaeology students are using 3D technology to make an historic record of a deteriorating pueblo known as Tsöpki, or Antelope House. Northern Arizona University professor Chris Downum says terrestrial photogrammetry is a new trend in archaeology that stitches together hundreds of high-resolution digital images to create a virtual model.

Genetics are thought to play a significant role in why some pinyon pines survive drought, and some don't. But a biologist at Northern Arizona University believes a newly discovered fungus is making the real difference between life and death.

Tom Koronkiewicz

Scientists are concerned golden eagles aren't reproducing as well as they should. They suspect climate change and disruption of habitat from development might be affecting them.

NAU Geology

Researchers studying sand deposits along the Colorado River are cautiously optimistic that controlled water releases from Glen Canyon Dam are restoring sandbars in the Grand Canyon.

It's official: dark chocolate is good for us! That's according to the first-ever chocolate study to measure brain waves. It was conducted by Larry Stevens, a clinical psychologist and professor at Northern Arizona University.

Arizona Earthquake Information Center

This region is not a place known for powerful earthquakes, but over the last year or so, there have been some memorable ones: the kind that wake you from a sound sleep and set your heart racing. Are they leading up to something bigger? Geologist Paul Umhoefer doesn't think so.

Arizona's infrastructure report card is in, and the news is...average. The American Society of Civil Engineers has - for the first time - graded the state's dams, bridges, railways, airports, roadways and water systems.