Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Shahla Farzan

Reporter | Weekend Newscaster

Shahla Farzan is a general assignment reporter and weekend newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio. She comes most recently from KBBI Public Radio in Homer, Alaska, where she covered issues ranging from permafrost thaw to disputes over prayer in public meetings. A science nerd to the core, Shahla spent six years studying native bees, eventually earning her PhD in ecology from the University of California-Davis. She has also worked as an intern at Capital Public Radio in Sacramento and a podcaster for BirdNote. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, combing flea markets for tchotchkes, and curling up with a good book. 

College students in the Living Lands & Waters Alternative Spring Break program hauled roughly 35,000 pounds of garbage from the Mississippi River this year near Grafton, IL.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio


A rowdy group of college students slathers on sunscreen, getting ready for a day on the river.

Instead of bathing suits, these spring breakers are decked out in knee-high rubber boots and faded life jackets. They’re part of the Living Lands & Waters river cleanup crew and for a week, they’ll spend their days pulling trash from the Mississippi River near Grafton, Illinois.


Wash U medical resident Pawina Jiramongkolchai presents Joe Weissmann with a smell test.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Two years ago, Joe Weissmann lost something many take for granted: his sense of smell.

“I still eat, but I don’t enjoy it near as much, because I can’t taste any food or have any sensation of smell,” said Weissmann, a lifelong St. Louis resident and retired sheet metal worker.

Still, Weissmann hasn’t lost hope. He is now a participant in a Washington University research study designed to understand how the brain changes after a person loses their sense of smell. The goal is to eventually develop a treatment for long-term smell loss.


Captain Perri Johnson of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department discusses cultural diversity with participants in the Ethical Society of Police pre-academy recruitment program at the Urban League on March 6, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Six months ago, the acquittal of a white police officer charged with the murder of an African-American man sparked widespread protests in St. Louis and put a spotlight on racial disparities in the police department.

About 47 percent of city residents are black, but just over 32 percent of city officers are non-white.

Recently appointed St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden, a 30-year veteran of the department, said it’s obvious they need to do more to increase minority recruitment. He’s now partnering with the Ethical Society of Police, a mostly African-American police association, to support their pre-academy recruitment program.



DACA recipients lead a march through the Delmar Loop on Friday evening. March 2, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Young immigrants in Missouri who are protected by an Obama administration program that granted them temporary permission to stay in the United States are taking their case to members of Congress.

In Missouri, 3,500 young people have registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. They want Congress to pass a long-term solution that would allow them to stay in the country.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s suicide rate ranks 13th in the nation.

In 2016, there were roughly 10 suicides per 100,000 residents, and more than half were gun-related. Yet despite the statistics, only about half of emergency-room doctors in the U.S. ask patients at risk of suicide if they have access to guns at home.

A new Washington University program aims to tackle this issue directly by working with patients at risk of suicide before they’re discharged from the hospital. The Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (C.A.L.M.) program helps patients temporarily store dangerous items they may have at home, including guns and prescription medication.


St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger announces St. Louis County has earned Certified Work Ready Community status at a press conference on Feb. 21, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County has joined 50 other Missouri counties in receiving Certified Work Ready Community status. County officials announced the designation Wednesday, saying it highlights the county’s competitive workforce.

“A skilled workforce is the heart of a strong economy,” said St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger. “As a CWRC, St. Louis County is sending a signal to the world that our workforce is highly skilled and businesses can expect to grow and thrive here.”


A Malawian nurse collects a blood sample from a child at Kamuzu Medical Center in Llongwe, Malawi, in 2015, to test for malaria infection.
Indi Trehan


When a doctor suspects a patient has malaria, the next step is usually a blood test. Most commonly, a technician smears a drop of blood on a slide and examines it under a microscope for tell-tale signs of the parasite.

But preliminary research from Washington University suggests future malaria testing could be as simple as collecting a breath sample.

The study, published in the February issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, reports malaria-infected children in Malawi show a distinct shift in the compounds in their breath compared to healthy children. Based on the abundance of six compounds, the researchers were able to diagnose malaria infection with 83 percent accuracy.


A partnership with Washington University is bringing another Israeli startup to St. Louis.

MDClone is working with researchers at the Institute for Informatics at Washington University School of Medicine. As part of the agreement, Wash U will be the first institution outside of Israel to have access to MDClone’s health care data platform. The platform offers a solution to a key issue in health care: how to conduct research while protecting patient privacy.