Pyramids, peaks and pathogens—oh my!

The 2022 Festival of Science, a Flagstaff tradition since 1990, kicks off on Friday, Sept. 23, bringing more than 100 free, family-friendly events to the community—many of them highlighting Northern Arizona University faculty and staff as presenters, lecturers and hosts.  

This year’s theme is Pyramids to The Peaks, giving participants the opportunity to learn about ancient cultures, the environment of the Colorado Plateau, wildlife, astronomy and biology as well as many topics at the intersection of the sciences and the arts. The festival offers a wide variety of presentations, hands-on workshops, interactive discussions, classroom talks and guided tours led by outstanding experts from across northern Arizona.  

Expanding the festival’s expertise to include a global perspective is prominent Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, who will deliver the W. L. Gore & Associates keynote presentation, “Mummies, Monuments and Mysteries,” at NAU’s Ardrey Auditorium. Hawass, who appears frequently on the Discovery Channel and PBS, will share his passion for archeological discovery in the fascinating world of pharaohs and Egyptian gods.  

Locally known as “The Best 10 Days of the Year,” the Festival of Science continues to be a cornerstone event for the Flagstaff community, with NAU playing a key role in the festival’s success. Through active participation by NAU scientists, artists and educators, as well as a robust sponsorship commitment, the university supports the Flagstaff community through the festival in many ways, including the traditional science-themed ballet presented by NAU’s Community Music and Dance Academy just before the keynote presentation. This year’s ballet, “Pyrouettes,” spotlights a collection of dances inspired by Egyptian archaeology, the desert and ancient Egypt performed to traditional and contemporary music from the region. 

The NAU Research Spotlight Lecture Series features professor Kevin Gurney presenting “Climate Change Data from the Building to the Planet,” Regents’ professor Ted Schuur discussing “How a Warming Arctic Affects the Climate and You” and associate professor Jeff Foster delivering “Bacterial Hitchhikers: How Global Migration Spreads Infectious Diseases Through Livestock.” The lectures are an important way for NAU to highlight the university’s scientific excellence within the local community; past lecturers have included assistant professors Emily Cope, Jason Ladner, and Noami Lee, associate professors O’neil Guthrie and Gerrick Lindberg, and professor Egbert Schwartz.  

A variety of other presentations and workshops are also led by NAU experts, including: 

  • Analyst Nicole Bies-Hernandez: “Sensory Illusions and the Science Behind Them” 
  • Alum Daniel Foley: “Downtown Geology Tour” 
  • Emeritus professor David Koerner: “The Evolving Link Between Music and Science” 
  • Associate teaching professor and chef Mark Molinaro: “The Science of Food and Sensory Analysis” 
  • Assistant professor Katie Mommaerts: “Silent No More! What Teens Are Telling Us about Their Mental Health Needs” 
  • Professor Donna Shillington: “Understanding the Largest Earthquakes on Earth with Underwater Imaging” 
  • Assistant professor David Van Ness: “Finding the Humane in Digital Fabrication through Self-Portraits” 
  • Assistant professor Jennifer Wade: “Accelerating Carbon Dioxide Removal: Safely, Equitably and Economically” 
  • Several NAU experts, including professor Jaime Awe, Regents´ professor Peter Fulé and director Amy Waltz, also lead or participate in panel discussions: “Ethics of Archaeology” and “Wildfire Risk Reduction Challenges and Solutions for the Greater Flagstaff Area” 
  • Cline Library and the MakerLab staff host several workshops: “Journey to Giza: VR Tours of the Egyptian Pyramids,” “Kitchen Chemistry: Homemade, Sustainable, Money-saving Products” and “All About 3D Printing” 
  • The NAU Campus Observatory hosts several sky viewing events throughout the festival. 

Pyramids to the Peaks: Screen of the Festival of Science passport as found in the app“We cannot thank NAU enough for its support,” said Festival Board President Virginia Watahomigie. “Both through its sponsorship and through the active participation of its faculty and staff, we have a wealth of resources that help pave the way for a completely free festival with more than 100 events that welcome everyone in our community.”  

Celebrate Pyramids to The Peaks through these events featuring NAU experts and by enjoying the wide variety of opportunities offered by community partners. For more information, visit the Flagstaff Festival of Science website at and access the full schedule of events. 

New festival app launched for 2022 

New this year, the festival has launched an app designed to give festival-goers an entertaining, convenient way to discover all the wonders of science  in store for them.  Participants can download the app from the iPhone App Store or from Google play by searching “Flagstaff Festival of Science.” 


Photo credit: Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

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Kerry Bennett | University Marketing 


NAU Communications