Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Eli Chen

Science Reporter
A demonstrator chants toward St. Louis Metropolitan Police Headquarters Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 before protests turned violent.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 11:40 p.m. with quote from protester released from jail — Hundreds of protesters redirected their efforts on a rainy Monday night to the St. Louis’ City Justice Center, where people who’d been arrested in recent days were being released.

Protesters marched peacefully and largely in silence throughout downtown St. Louis early Monday morning. 9/18/17
Brit Hanson | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:45 p.m. to recast throughout, add details about cleanup — When morning broke Monday, about 100 people already were in the streets of downtown St. Louis to silently protest the acquittal of former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley and high schoolers in the suburbs were walking out of classes.

It was the fourth day of action since a judge decided Stockley wasn’t guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. More than 150 people have been arrested since Friday’s verdict, including 123 people Sunday night in downtown, where businesses mended broken windows Monday.

An evening protest took place in the Delmar Loop, which hosted a largely peaceful demonstration Saturday before a few people broke several windows.

A demonstrator waves a flag from a minivan during protests Sunday evening over the acquittal of former St. Louis cop Jason Stockey. A third day of protests started peacefully before a smaller group smashed windows downtown.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:25 p.m. Sept. 18 with release of Post-Dispatch reporter — More than 80 people were arrested Sunday night, St. Louis police said, long after the official — and peaceful — protests ended. The last group of people to be arrested downtown were boxed in by police and sprayed with a chemical agent, a livestream showed, and a St. Louis Post-Dispatch staffer tweeted that one of their reporters was among them. A Post-Dispatch editor this morning announced that reporter Mike Faulk has been released.

Protesters march on Delmar Boulevard
Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

 

 

Updated at 11:25 p.m. with new details from evening protests — A second full day of outrage over former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal in the 2011 fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith took protesters to a St. Louis County mall, downtown St. Louis and a mass rally Saturday night in the Delmar Loop.

Two grizzly bear cubs arrived at the Saint Louis Zoo in the summer of 2017.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Visitors to the St. Louis Zoo will be able to watch two grizzly bear cubs from Montana starting Friday.

The male, Huckleberry and female, Finley, are both 2 1/2 years old. They and their mother were found disturbing residences and livestock, posing a risk to public safety. Montana wildlife officials killed the mother and sent the cubs to St. Louis Zoo, because zoo officials already had plans to revamp the grizzly bear exhibit.

Adrian Percy, head of research and development at Bayer CropScience, delivers the keynote speech  at the 2017 Ag Innovation Showcase at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

As European regulators investigate the potential $66 billion Bayer-Monsanto merger, Bayer's CropScience division is preparing to address challenges in crop technology, especially those tied to Monsanto's products. 

At the annual Ag Innovation Showcase in St. Louis hosted by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Adrian Percy, Bayer CropScience's head of research and development, said a priority for the merged companies would be addressing a decline in pollinators and meeting the high demand for herbicides to combat resistant weeds.

A solar energy project on the roof of Nestle Purina's builidng in downtown St. Louis.
Microgrid Energy

The city of St. Louis could soon commit to an ambitious goal to depend on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power for its electricity by 2035. 

Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed introduced a resolution Friday that would completely transition the city away from using fossil fuels. The St. Louis region currently receives less than 5 percent of its electricity from wind, solar and other renewable sources.

Microgrid installed two solar arrays at Busch Stadium.
Microgrid Energy

Nearly 600,000 people in the Midwest are working in the clean energy sector and that number likely will continue to rise, according to advocates for the industry. 

The nonprofit groups Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs released a report Thursday that demonstrated a significant increase in the past year in the number of people who work in fields such as wind and solar power and energy auditing. Illinois led the region's clean energy sector growth by adding nearly 120,000 jobs, largely in the area of energy efficiency. Missouri showed growth in multiple areas, including renewable energy, which saw jobs grow by 14.5 percent in the last year.

The SuperTIGER detects cosmic rays, high-energy radiation that's produced from supernovas. Researchers at Washington University and NASA will launch the 6,000 pound device over Antarctica in November.
Bob Binns

In November, a team of scientists from Washington University and NASA will head to Antarctica to launch a device that will help them study space radiation. 

When massive stars die, they create explosions known as supernovas. Researchers theorize that the shocks from these events strip particles of their electrons and send them through space close to the speed of light. These high energy particles are called cosmic rays and studying them could help physicists understand the universe outside of our solar system.

A rendering of the St. Louis Ice Center at Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park.
St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

The National Park Service has ordered the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to stop construction work for a proposed ice recreation facility in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. 

In a letter to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources last Friday, the federal agency expressed its concerns about the St. Louis Ice Center.

"We are concerned that the Ice Center would act as a stand-alone attraction and would not encourage further outdoor recreation at the rest of the site," wrote Carol Edmondson, an outdoor recreation planner at the National Park Service.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has requested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency upgrade Jefferson County's air quality status, now that levels of sulfur dioxide have dropped below the federal limit. 

In 2013, the EPA designated Jefferson County as "nonattainment," or not meeting the federal standard for sulfur dioxide, a gas that produces toxic odors and causes respiratory problems. A monitor near the Doe Run lead smelter in Herculaneum detected sulfur dioxide levels above 200 parts per billion, said Kyra Moore, director of the state's air quality control program. After the smelter closed in 2013, levels have dropped well below the 75 parts per billion limit. 

This treehopper in a greenhouse at Saint Louis University would not normally have a purple horn or "pronotum." It was painted that color for identification purposes.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Researchers are studying countless plants and animals to understand how climate change could threaten populations. At Saint Louis University, scientists want to know if changes in temperature could affect the mating songs of insects.  

Biologists at SLU have received $480,000 from the National Science Foundation to study how temperature affects treehopper mating songs, which could provide clues as to how climate change could affect insect survival. The loss of insect species could adversely affect agriculture and many ecosystems that depend on them.

Joyetta White looks up at the partial eclipse with classmates at Long International Middle School in St. Louis.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

People gathered at schools, a rural airport and downtown St. Louis on Monday seeking a good view of the total eclipse. The celestial event reached totality (when the moon completely covered the sun) at about 1:15 p.m. St. Louis time, darkening the skies except for what looked like a very bright headlight overhead.

Saint Louis University Robert Pasken and his graduate student Melissa Mainhart perform a test run of a weather balloon that they plan to launch during the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Historically, total solar eclipses have been used to make important scientific discoveries. One in 1919 validated Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Another in 1868 led to the discovery of helium, the second most common element on the planet.

A total solar eclipse in 2006.
Franz Kerschbaum

Like any other day, the sun will rise on Monday. But close to noon in Missouri, the moon will start to cover the sun.

“You’re going to start to see little bits of the sun start to disappear, like someone slowly taking little bites out of a cookie,” said Anna Green, planetarium manager at the Saint Louis Science Center.

The sky will start to go dark quickly, like someone dimming the lights in a room. The air will also become colder, said Angela Speck, astrophysicist at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Charvonne Long, 26, has spent many weekends in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, St. Louis County's oldest park. She's opposed to the St. Louis Ice Center Project, which she thinks would disrupt the natural beauty of the area.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 70 St. Louis area residents and environmentalists gathered in front of the St. Louis County Administrative Building on Tuesday to protest a proposal to build a 250,000-square-foot ice recreation complex in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. 

Holding signs that included pictures of local birds pasted on paper plates, local residents said they are concerned that the St. Louis Ice Center project could dramatically alter the appearance of the park. Environmentalists also fear that the facility of three indoor rinks and one outdoor rink could increase flooding. The site is on a floodplain that has experienced a couple of major floods in the last two years.

A Washington University researcher holds a piece of paper coated with tiny gold particles that can be used to test blood for Zika virus.
Provided | Washington University School of Medicine

Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis are developing a test for the Zika virus that produces results quickly and don't require refrigeration. 

To test for the Zika virus, which is transmitted by mosquitos and is linked to birth defects, blood samples have to be sent to a laboratory, where a positive or negative result is generated in a couple days. The blood and the chemicals used in the test have to be refrigerated. Researchers at Wash U's medical and engineering schools created a test for the virus using nanotechnology, or particles smaller than 100 nanometers. It shows results in a matter of minutes.

A laboratory at BioGenerator, the investment arm of BioSTL.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

A pharmaceutical company near Philadelphia has acquired Confluence Life Sciences, a St. Louis-based startup developing drugs to treat cancer, for $100 million. 

Confluence was founded by former Pfizer scientists who spent many years studying the kinase gene family, which play a role in inflammation. Aclaris Therapeutics, which manufactures drugs that address skin disease, wants Confluence's expertise in a molecule called the JAK inhibitor, which is a member of the kinase gene family. 

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

A California law firm has released several dozen internal documents that show that Monsanto influenced research on glyphosate, Roundup’s key ingredient.

The lawyers represent farmers who claimed in a lawsuit that exposure to Roundup caused them non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The documents posted Tuesday on the law firm's website include email and memos that contain more evidence that the company had ghostwritten research on the health effects of glyphosate. They build on other evidence a federal judge unsealed in March

Angela Speck, an astrophysicist at University of Missouri-Columbia, tells a story at The Story Collider even at St. Louis Public Radio in May 2017.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Like it or not, science is a part of our lives. It affects our health, our environment and our understanding of who we are and how we fit in the universe. At a time when our knowledge of how the world works is quickly expanding, climate change is altering the planet, and the state of health care hangs in the balance, it’s especially important to share stories about what science means to us personally.

Astrophysicist Angela Speck, pediatrician Ken Haller and science reporter Eli Chen performed at The Story Collider podcast’s debut in St. Louis this past May.
St. Louis Storytelling Festival

Everyone has a personal connection to science.  

Maybe you were  reaching for a Nobel Prize with your high school science fair project until an unforeseeable error caused it to go down in flames. Or, perhaps you’ve been  a researcher on an expedition thousands of miles from home, surrounded by people who don’t understand what you’re doing there. Or, you’ve listened to your doctor diagnose you with a condition that you’ve never heard of before.

A view of the Mississippi River from Dubuque, IA, where government agencies, environmentalists, engineers and residents gathered to discuss flood risks along the upper Mississippi River.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Communities along the upper Mississippi River have seen a major uptick in heavy rains and flooding in the last decade.

Residents, environmentalists, engineers and government agencies agree that they need a coordinated strategy to manage flooding. That could be particularly important in coming years, as scientists predict that climate change will likely bring more heavy rain to the region.

Mizzou researchers studied fossils of clams called Abra segmentum valves that had been infected by trematodes, collected from nothern Italy.
Scientific Reports

Fossil records suggest that there could be another consequence of climate change and rising sea levels: an increase in parasitic worm infections. 

Scientists at the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Bologna studied clams collected in northern Italy that date back to the Holocene Epoch, a time when the planet was warming up after the Ice Age. Parasitic worms called trematodes, also known as flukes and flatworms, would attempt to feed on these ancient clams and the clams would respond by developing pits to keep them out.

By looking at the pits, the researchers learned that the presence of trematodes increased during relatively short periods of sea level rise.

The Sny Island Levee System in Illinois is one of 10 levee systems that have exceeded their authorized heights, according to a survey conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers' Rock Island District this year.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Nancy Guyton has lived by the Mississippi River her entire life. She and her husband farm in Annada, a small town on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River. She knows that growing crops on the floodplain comes with some risks.

The Guytons’ farm, about 65 miles north of St. Louis, endured major floods along the Mississippi in 1993 and 2008. But since 2008, she’s noticed more flood events.

Eureka resident Sharon Wasson sits in her basement, which still hasn't been completely put back together after the severe flooding that occurred in May.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Two months ago, retired physical education teacher and Eureka resident Sharon Wasson spent four days trying to keep sewer water from entering her basement. An armada of blower fans covered the floor. Members of Eureka High School’s football and wrestling teams packed the place, pumping water out of Wasson’s house.

Two months later, the basement where she once spent most of her time is still a work in progress. Having dealt with the major flooding in May and in December 2015, Wasson is conflicted about staying in Eureka.

Lone Star ticks are one of the most common ticks in Missouri. It carries ehrlichiosis, which causes flu-like symptoms, among other diseases.
Provided |U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Amid an increase in tick-borne illnesses this year, Missouri health officials have launched a study to trap and test ticks for diseases. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study ticks at Meramec State Park. The research, which began in June, aims to understand how ticks spread rare diseases, such as the Bourbon and Heartland viruses. Last month, a Missouri resident tested positive for the Bourbon virus.

Missouri Botanical Garden restoration biologist James Trager standing at one of the naturally-occurring glades in the Shaw Nature Reserve.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

While the Ozarks are known for forests, but visitors to the highland region also will find open, desert-like areas between trees that contain a special combination of rare plants and animals  found in few other places. 

The areas, called glades, are hot and dry places with thin soils. To a visitor, the rocky appearance of glades make them look like an old road that has been overtaken by tall grasses. They're defined by the type of rocks that lie underneath, which in Missouri are largely limestone and dolomite. Glades were once more common in Missouri's Ozarks, but since they need to be burned to exist, the areas have disappeared over the last century as forest managers sought to suppress fires. 

Scientists are conducting controlled fires at the Shaw Nature Reserve to understand how to best conserve them.

Maryville University biologist Kyra Krakos studies flowers at the Shaw Nature Reserve.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Among the many ways rising global temperatures are changing the environment, from shrinking polar ice caps to rising sea levels, research in recent years has shown that climate change also is causing flowering plants and pollinating bugs to fall out of sync.

This summer, Maryville University biologist Kyra Krakos and her students are studying the effects of climate change on flowers and pollinating insects, particularly bumblebees, at the Shaw Nature Reserve about an hour outside St. Louis. Meteorologists have observed more erratic weather patterns over time, such as this year's mild winter, which has caused flowers to bloom at times when they shouldn't.

Monsanto's widely-used weed killer Roundup on a shelf in Home Depot.
File photo | Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, will be added to the list of chemicals California warns are known to cause cancer.

The state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has posted a notice on its website that glyphosate will be added to the list on July 7. A California judge denied Monsanto's request to block the state from doing so, but the company has filed an appeal.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

For years, Granite City had some of the worst air quality in Illinois. But a new effort to track greenhouse gases could help reduce the city’s air pollution and improve public health.

For 18 months, Washington University researchers tracked levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from Granite City municipal operations. The area has historically dealt with high levels of particulate matter pollution, largely from the local U.S. Steel plant. The plant idled temporarily at the end of 2015 but began operating again this year.

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