Editor’s note: Science in Flagstaff comes to the fore during the Flagstaff Festival of Science. Many of the organizations profiled in brief below are mainstays of the festival and leaders in their fields year-round.
3051 W Shamrell Blvd, Flagstaff
Number of employees: 35
Annual budget: $3.5M
TGen North’s primary goal is to join genomics and pathogen research to advance medicine, public health and biodefense. The nonprofit research institute uses cutting edge science and technology to take a deep dive into analyzing and identifying pathogens and their specific genetic material. Current projects in the realm of public health include community-level projects here in Flagstaff such as multiple studies looking at relationship between antibiotic resistance in the environment and in humans. Additionally TGen works closely with the CDC and state health departments to solve disease outbreaks and understand emerging infections. TGen is actively developing new diagnostics and new drugs for some of today’s greatest health threats.
1400 West Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff
Number of employees: 90
Annual budget: $9M
With a history that dates back to before the founding of the city of Flagstaff, the Lowell Observatory has a lengthy list of astronomical accomplishments to its name. The private, nonprofit research institution's mission combines professional research, history and outreach. The research of Lowell's 14 full-time astronomers covers a variety of topics, from the origins and evolution of comets to the search for planets orbiting other stars. The observatory recently opened up a new archive center and has staff working on NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons mission, expected to pass by the dwarf planet next summer. Lowell also owns the $53 million Discovery Channel Telescope, a 14-foot telescope located 40 miles southeast of Flagstaff that is the fifth largest in the continental United States.
United States Geological Survey
2255 North Gemini Drive, Flagstaff
Number of employees: 200
Annual budget: $25-$30 million
The USGS's Flagstaff campus encompasses five research centers focusing on water issues, biological science, western geography, astrogeology, geology, minerals, energy and geophysics. Researchers at the Flagstaff campus monitor state and tribal water resources and use drones to do aerial mapping using remote sensing. In the Grand Canyon area, researchers' study areas include the geologic evolution of the Lower Colorado River and aquatic life in the Colorado River. The agency's scientists also do work related to wildfire. They're examining the after-effects of the Schultz Fire and survey how fires have affected the vegetation on burned landscapes. Researchers on the astrogeology team cooperate closely with NASA projects like the Future of Mars Exploration project and the mapping of planetary bodies.
U.S. Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station
10391 West Naval Observatory Road
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
The Naval Observatory station is the U.S. Navy's dark-sky site for optical and near-infrared astronomy. Under the guidance of Station Director Paul Shankland, astronomers at the 287-acre facility observe the stars to create celestial reference frames and stellar parallaxes that track the shifting of heavenly bodies for the Navy and the U.S. Department of Defense. They also study celestial events, provide orbital and interplanetary navigation data for satellites and develop new instruments for astronomical research. In addition, the Naval Observatory operates the 437-meter Navy Precision Optical Interferometer, an array of six telescopes located on Anderson Mesa south of Flagstaff, in collaboration with Lowell Observatory. The instrument is used to take precise measurements of star locations for things like the Global Positioning Satellite system and time keeping. It also tracks other countries' satellites. Research at the Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station is headed up by station Director Paul Shankland
Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University
NAU Applied Research & Development Building
1298 S. Knoles Drive
Flagstaff, AZ 86011
The Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics is a state-of-the-art research facility headed up by world-renowned pathogen geneticist Paul Keim. The center is internationally known for its studies on the evolution, ecology and epidemiology of a number of disease-causing bacteria, most notably anthrax and the plague. This year, MGGen researchers authored a study in the prestigious journal "PLOS Pathogens" linking plague outbreaks 541 A.D. and 1850 A.D. to the Black Death pandemic of the Middle Ages using a DNA analysis of ancient plague victims who died in Germany during the 6th Century. MGGen has ongoing collaborations with various government agencies and institutions. Its research has been used to aid in fields such as biodefense and the prevention of hospital-acquired infections. There are more than 65 faculty, full-time staff, graduate and undergraduate students currently working in the center, with additional researchers closely associated with the Center on the NAU campus.
Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at Northern Arizona University
PO Box 5620
Flagstaff, AZ 86011
The Center for Ecosystem Science and Society is one of the newest research centers at Northern Arizona University. Officially launched July 1 of this year, Ecoss' work focuses on studying how and why ecosystems change and how that change might shape the Earth's future. While its work focuses largely on climate change, Ecoss researchers also probe areas including carbon, antibiotic and how organisms function in the environment. Researchers study the biology, chemistry, and geology of the biosphere in four key areas: microbial ecology, global ecology, water ecology and future ecology. A study published earlier this year by an Ecoss researcher center analyzes the effect of climate change on the lifespan of soil microbes. Earlier this month, Ecoss professor Ted Schuur received a $775,000 grant to lead a research team studying the effects of climate change on permafrost as part of the multimillion- dollar Study of Environmental Arctic Change.
U.S. Forest Service
1824 S. Thompson St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
The Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, manages public lands in national forests and grasslands. It is also the largest forestry research organization in the world, and provides technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies. Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest, summed up the mission of the Forest Service - "to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run." National forests encompass 193 million acres of land, which is an area equivalent to the size of Texas.
Flagstaff is home to a field lab of the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, which is headquartered in Fort Collins, Colo. (http://goo.gl/QhBC0P). The research done at the Flagstaff field lab relates directly to the overall program of work of the Rocky Mountain Research Station. The station is one of five regional units that make up the US Forest Service Research and Development organization - the most extensive natural resources research organization in the world.
National Park Service
Flagstaff Area National Monuments
6400 N. Hwy 89
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Colorado Plateau Research Station
Northern Arizona University
Applied Research and Development Building 56, Suite 150
The Southern Colorado Plateau Network is based in Flagstaff on the campus of Northern Arizona University. The network's National Park Service staff includes the program manager, ecologists and technicians, a data management team, and a half-time program assistant. The network works collaboratively with the Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystems Study Unit, NAU, and other regional universities to bring in additional technical expertise as needed.
Its mission is to track status and trends in the condition of selected park "vital signs" and to communicate the results to park managers, partners, and the public, thereby promoting the use of sound science in the preservation of natural and cultural resources held in trust by the National Park Service. Since 2000, SCPN has worked with parks to identify natural resource inventory and monitoring needs, to complete basic inventories, and to implement long-term ecological monitoring across the 19 SCPN parks.
W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
Medical Products Division
3750 W Kiltie Lane
1500 N 4th St.
W. L. Gore & Associates has made its name by creating innovative, technology-driven solutions, from medical devices that treat aneurysms to high-performance
GORE-TEX® fabrics. It is a privately held company with annual sales of more than $3 billion.
Gore focuses its efforts in four main areas: electronics, fabrics, industrial and medical products. Implants from the medical division in Flagstaff provide creative healing solutions to complex medical challenges such as heart problems, cardiovascular disease, stents, surgical graphs and heart defects.
Gore employs more than 10,000 employees in manufacturing facilities in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and China, and sales offices around the world. The Flagstaff campus has 11 facilities and employs 2,100 people.
Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University
PO Box 15017
Flagstaff, AZ 86011
The Ecological Restoration Institute is a nationally recognized research center dedicated to restoring forests and woodlands throughout the American West that have been damaged by unnaturally severe wildfire and other forest health problems. Under the leadership of forest ecologist W. Wallace Covington, ERI's roughly 30 employees and their undergraduate research assistants are involved with ecological research and conservation projects in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and other portions of the Intermountain West, as well as northern Mexico. They also help land management agencies and communities in those areas implement forest restoration projects. ERI is one of only three state-level institutes approved by Congress to address forest health and unnatural wildfire issues through science-based approaches. Earlier this month, ERI received $205,000 from the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and NFL Foundation to support the institute's ongoing research on the long-term effects of forest restoration on watershed health.
Museum of Northern Arizona
3101 N. Fort Valley Road
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
The Museum of Northern Arizona was founded by in 1928 by Dr. Harold S. Colton and Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton. The mission of the museum is to inspire a sense of love and responsibility for the beauty and diversity of the Colorado Plateau through collecting, studying, interpreting, and preserving the region’s natural and cultural heritage. MNA works in collaboration with native peoples of the Southwest to protect and foster the cultures, traditions and beliefs of the Colorado Plateau by encouraging artistic expression and supporting, empowering, and educating visitors about the art and cultures of Southwestern Native people. It is engaged in research in the fields of anthropology/archaeology, biology/ecology and geology paleontology, with offices and labs in Colton Research Center on land across Fort Valley Road from the museum exhibit building. In archaeology, MNA and the National Park Service completed in 2009 the largest excavation and research project in the Grand Canyon National Park in 40 years. In biology, it in inventorying local springs and continuing to collect and preserve native seeds to protect plant diversity. Paleontologist David Gillette recently excavated a new species of Therizinosaur.