Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Shahla Farzan

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. 

Ways to Connect

Natalia Cantu stimulates the neurons in a cockroach leg at a lab session on July 25, 2018, while fellow program participant Ryan Evans observes.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Natalia Cantu attaches electrodes to a cockroach leg and taps its spiky hairs with a paintbrush.

The neurons in the leg fire rapidly in response, appearing as sharp peaks and valleys on her smartphone.

Cantu, who teaches ninth-grade biology in Edinburg, Texas, is in her second year of Washington University’s Master of Science in Biology for Science Teachers program. As part of the program, high school teachers from across the country do hands-on lab work to improve their own knowledge of science, in the hopes that they can help spark an interest in their students.

An analysis of states that decriminalized marijuana reported a steep drop in the number of related arrests and no increase in adolescent use.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Decriminalizing marijuana doesn’t necessarily lead to an increase in adolescent use, according to research from Washington University.

Marijuana possession is still illegal under decriminalization, but it is treated as a civil offense.

Attendees visit an information table at the 2017 African Community Health Fair.
Progressive Emporium & Education Center

A group of St. Louis businesses and nonprofits are joining together Saturday to host the third annual African Community Health Fair.

The event, which promotes self-care and wellness for African-Americans, will offer a range of free health tests, including blood pressure, cholesterol, vision and podiatry screenings. Organizers say the fair provides a vital service, particularly for those who don’t have regular access to health care.

Volunteer Sam Roth, right, plays chess with a Biddle House shelter resident on July 9, 2018. The chess club began in 2016, the same year the shelter opened.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Terry Austin eyes his opponent across the chessboard, then deftly captures his knight.

A few moves later, opponent Ed Rataj admits defeat.

The two play in the communal living area at Biddle House, a shelter for people who are homless near downtown St. Louis. Austin is a resident. The Biddle House chess club began in 2016, the same year the shelter opened. Twice a week, shelter residents gather to play chess with volunteers from the community.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Soybean growers in the Midwest are caught in the middle of an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China.

China retaliated against the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese products Friday by imposing $34 billion in tariffs on hundreds of American goods, including soybeans. Analysts say the added expense of China’s 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans will effectively block the product from entering the Chinese market.

Angie Wang | NPR

For breast cancer patients, race and geography can mean the difference between surviving and succumbing.

Washington University researchers have identified distinct hot spots in the U.S. where women are more likely to die from breast cancer. For African-American women and Latinas, these hot spots are predominantly clustered in specific regions across the southern U.S.

Zoo staff decided to bottle-feed the baby lemur after observing that her mother was unable to nurse her.
Ethan Riepl | St. Louis Zoo

A new, tiny resident will now greet visitors to the St. Louis Zoo Primate House.

Princess Buttercup, a female mongoose lemur, is the first of her species to be born and reared successfully at the zoo. The critically endangered lemur species, which is found only on Madagascar, is the focus of a national cooperative breeding program intended to build a healthy population in captivity.

Protesters march down Market Street in downtown St. Louis with handmade signs while chanting "We care! We vote!" The “Families Belong Together” rally was one of hundreds nationally on June 6, 2018.
Brian Heffernan | St. Louis Public Radio

Demonstrators gathered in the shadow of the Gateway Arch Saturday to protest the separation of more than 2,300 migrant children from their parents at the U.S. southern border.

A brass band wove through the crowd as St. Louis-area residents chanted and waved handmade signs in Kiener Plaza. The Families Belong Together rally in St. Louis was one of hundreds of marches held nationwide on Saturday.

Missouri Department of Conservation fisheries technician Shane Creasy treats a five-acre lake in Warren County with aquatic herbicide to kill hydrilla on June 8, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Shane Creasy stands on the edge of a lake and casts a plastic beaker full of thick white herbicide into the water.

The herbicide slowly fans out across the surface of the lake, as Creasy, a fisheries technician with the Missouri Department of Conservation, peels off his protective gloves. The target, an invasive aquatic plant known as hydrilla, is a tenacious adversary that takes years to eradicate.


Janie Oliphant, left, adjusts a LGBT flag held by Cody Copp and Samuel Taylor so they can have their picture taken at a rally and march in St. Louis in February 2017.
FILE PHOTO | RYAN DELANEY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

St. Louis will host two Pride festivals this weekend as part of a yearly celebration of LGBTQ+ culture and history.

Pride traces its roots back to the 1969 Stonewall Riots, when police raided a gay club in New York City, sparking widespread protests.  As in past years, two Pride celebrations will take place in St. Louis; a large, two-day event downtown and a community-driven festival in Tower Grove Park. 

Sharon Wade keeps an eye on Martha Wade, her 86-year-old mother, after serving her an afternoon snack.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Martha Wade spells a word, it sounds like a song.

Her daughter, Sharon Wade, sits with her on a plush couch and tries to come up with new words to stump the 86-year-old. As her mother’s full-time caregiver, Wade looks for activities to challenge her physically and mentally.

Sharon Wade’s situation is not unusual. Unlike previous generations, an increasing number of older Americans are choosing to continue living in their own homes, rather than moving to nursing facilities. Meanwhile, the high cost of in-home care means that the burden of caring for elderly adults often falls on family members.


Eileen Graessle, right, photographs a honeybee on a milkweed flower at the BeeBlitz in Forest Park on June 16, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Eileen Graessle leaned in close to a patch of milkweed, as she tried to capture a photo of a honeybee in motion.

It was a difficult task, but one that Graessle relished as a volunteer for the BeeBlitz citizen science project on Saturday in Forest Park. The annual event aims to help researchers determine which species are present in the city and how their populations are changing.

“It helps to study the way that they move,” said Graessle, an amateur beekeeper who lives in Ballwin. “I also take multiple shots and then usually some of those come out exciting and defined.”

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Children who eat poor diets are more likely to be bullies at school, according to research from Saint Louis University.

The study, which used data from a World Health Organization survey of 150,000 children across 40 countries in Europe and North America, examined the relationship between diet and bullying behavior. Students who had poor diets or experienced frequent meal deprivation were more likely to bully their peers.

Demonstrators marched north along Grand Avenue in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood on June 2, 2018 to call more attention to issues of gun violence.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Hundreds of St. Louis-area residents took to the streets on Saturday to call attention to gun violence.

The demonstrators took part in a silent march along Grand Avenue through the JeffVanderLou neighborhood, carrying signs that read “we can end gun violence” and “life is precious.” The event coincided with Wear Orange Weekend, an annual campaign against gun violence held nationwide.

Over 1,100 athletes competed in the 2018 St. Louis Senior Games, which included sports ranging from water volleyball to track and field.
St. Louis Jewish Community Center

In St. Louis, you’re never too old to become an Olympic athlete.

This weekend, hundreds of people from across the region have come together to compete in the 39th annual St. Louis Senior Olympics. The event, which is open to anyone over the age of 50, includes a wide range of sports.

A boy carries a rose at a Vietnam Memorial Ceremony at the College of the Ozarks, near Branson.
Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau | Flickr

Cities throughout the St. Louis region will host parades and ceremonies this weekend in observance of Memorial Day.

In preparation for the holiday weekend, the Missouri Department of Transportation has suspended construction work on interstates and state highways. Construction will resume on Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Researchers at Washington University are working to understand how a common mosquito-borne virus causes chronic arthritis.
USDA

Washington University researchers are one step closer to understanding how a common virus transmitted by mosquitoes causes chronic arthritis.

Like other mosquito-borne diseases, patients with chikungunya virus usually develop a fever and muscle aches. There is no known treatment for the virus, but it often clears up on its own within several weeks. For some patients, however, chikungunya causes severe arthritis that can last for months or even years.

Students and supporters call for racial justice as they march toward St. Louis Metropolitan Police headquarters on Olive Street. (May 19, 2018)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Students in St. Louis raised their voices on Saturday morning to protest racial profiling and systemic police violence against African-Americans.

More than 50 people attended the Black Lives Matter youth protest in downtown St. Louis. Police cars flanked the marchers as they walked down the center of Olive Street to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department headquarters, chanting and carrying signs with slogans like “Students for Black Lives” and “Don’t Shoot.”

St. Louis Public Radio’s Shahla Farzan is exploring issues related to elderly caregiving in the St. Louis area. Please respond to the questions below and join the conversation. If the form above doesn't load, you can answer our questions here.

Five-year-old Honore Locker colors alongside Maxi Glamour after Drag Queen Story Hour at St. Louis Public Library's Central Branch.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A group of drag queens in bejeweled ball gowns and stiletto heels brought unexpected glamour to storytime on Mother's Day weekend.

A rambunctious crowd packed into the auditorium of the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Branch on Saturday afternoon for Drag Queen Story Hour. The event, which aims to celebrate diversity and inclusion, drew more than 100 young children and their families.

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