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

Washington University professor Daniel Giammar is leading a team of engineers and geologists to understand how quickly carbon dioxide becomes limestone rock when injected into volcanic rock deep underground.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

With mounting concern over climate change, scientists around the world are looking for ways to keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

A team of geologists and engineers at Washington University is testing ways to trap carbon dioxide beneath the Earth’s surface. The process, known as carbon sequestration, involves injecting carbon dioxide deep underground. Over time, the gas reacts with the surrounding rock and water and becomes rock itself.


Understanding how bacteria detoxify and eat antibiotics might help us develop ways to address antibiotic contamination in the environment.
Michael Worful

Ten years ago, Gautam Dantas stumbled across a strange phenomenon in the lab: bacteria that were able to feed on antibiotics.

“The story really starts very serendipitously,” said Dantas, who is now a professor of pathology and immunology at Washington University. “Like whoa, there are bugs in the soil that are munching on antibiotics.”

Michael Dawson of the St. Louis Zoo shows an American toad to a group of fourth-graders from Community School on May 4, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Armed with clipboards and binoculars, students from the St. Louis area got a chance to explore nearby forests, fields and ponds, all while cataloging local wildlife.

Local naturalists and wildlife experts helped guide small groups of students as part of the first BioBlitz at Principia School in Town and Country on Friday. The BioBlitz, which happens each year in communities across the U.S., is an effort to record plants and animals, while also helping “citizen scientists” feel more connected to nature.


Local musicians perform at PorchFest STL in 2017. The event grew out of a partnership between Washington University students and the Skinker DeBaliviere Community Council.
Thomas Whitener

Residents in the Skinker DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis are set to welcome local musicians and bands Sunday afternoon for a unique music festival.

Inspired by a similar event in Ithaca, New York, PorchFest STL aims to bring the community together and encourage neighbors to connect with one another.

The lone star tick is an important vector of a number of diseases, including the heartland virus and ehrlichiosis.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Most people hope to avoid ticks when they take a walk in the woods.

For biologists at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center, however, attracting ticks is the goal.

In a recent study, Tyson researchers collected thousands of lone star ticks in the Missouri Ozarks. The results point to an interesting pattern: the number of ticks found in an area is closely related to the topography, or physical features, of the landscape.

Hawthorn students Lanet Williams, at left, and Lauryn Holmes, center, practice taking each other's blood pressure with Washington University medical student Helen Liljenwall on April 13, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University students are working closely with staff at Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls in north St. Louis to help students succeed academically and introduce them to new experiences.

As part of the InvestiGirls program, Wash U undergraduates provide after-school tutoring and enrichment workshops for Hawthorn students in sixth through ninth grade. The initiative, which is spearheaded by the university’s Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, recently completed its third year.

Mary Ostafi | Urban Harvest STL

A customized cargo bike full of fruits and vegetables will soon make an appearance in north St. Louis.

Urban Harvest STL and the St. Louis MetroMarket, will send the “Veggie Bike” on its maiden voyage next month. The program, which will initially distribute free produce, is intended to promote the MetroMarket’s mobile farmers market in a converted bus.

State Rep. Bob Burns' legislation would make it easier to hold disincorporation elections in St. Louis County.
File photo I Tim Bommel I House Communications

Updated at 10 p.m. April 23 with Burns saying he won't resign—The top leaders of the Missouri Democratic Party are calling for a south St. Louis County lawmaker to resign after he praised a radio host who commonly makes racist and misogynist remarks.

At issue are state Rep. Bob Burns’ calls into a radio show hosted by Bob Romanik, a Metro East political figure. He’s often said things on his show that are derogatory to African-Americans and women.

Curious Louis question-asker Rachel Duncan, left, and St. Louis Public Radio reporter Shahla Farzan, center, speak with Bill Houston of the Saint Louis Zoo.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Rachel Duncan doesn’t remember the first time she visted the St. Louis Zoo, but she’s pretty sure she was an infant.

“There’s not a summer in my life that I have not come to visit the St. Louis Zoo and enjoyed what it has to offer,” said Duncan. “It’s a part of my entire life.”

Like many St. Louisans, she feels personally connected to the animals at the zoo. That prompted her to ask our Curious Louis reporting series: What happens when an animal passes away at the zoo? Do they have a funeral? And how does it impact the workers?


Allan Doctor, professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine, is part of a research team working to develop an artificial blood substitute.
E. Holland Durando | Washington University

Thousands of people in the United States die each year due to severe blood loss, often before they reach an emergency room.

To help reduce the number of trauma deaths, a Washington University research team is working to develop an artificial blood substitute. The freeze-dried red powder, which can be reconstituted with sterile water, is intended to keep patients alive until they’re able to reach a hospital.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University researchers are one step closer to understanding how to prevent the chronic pain associated with chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy patients often experience burning and tingling in the hands and feet, known as “chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain.” The condition has no known treatment, but new research offers a reason to hope. In a recent study, a team of SLU researchers successfully “turned off” the pain associated with a common chemotherapy drug.

 

Cassandra Pace, center, teaches Sarah Wright-Aholt and Kristin Carlson how to skin a rat at her Creaky Crow taxidermy class.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louisans looking for a new date night activity can add taxidermy to the list.

The Creaky Crow, a four-month-old curiosity shop on Cherokee Street, now offers hands-on taxidermy classes. Aspiring taxidermists learn the basics of animal preservation, from skinning to stuffing, while enjoying a glass of wine.

 


The Missouri Department of Conservation says honeysuckle can affect lake and stream banks, marsh, fens, sedge meadow, wet and dry prairies, savannas, floodplain and upland forests and woodlands.
Missouri Department of Conservation

This week, in the hallowed halls of the historic Old Courthouse in St. Louis, a local woodworker sued a shrub.

In an educational mock trial held Wednesday, a jury heard the case against invasive bush honeysuckle. The plant was first introduced to the U.S. from eastern Asia in the 1700s and has since spread to at least 31 states, including Missouri.

Mitali Sharma, center, marches with Clayton High School classmates in downtown St. Louis.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Thousands of people marched in downtown St. Louis on Saturday morning to protest gun violence and advocate for stricter gun control.

Saturday’s March for Our Lives event was a culmination of a month-long effort to honor the 17 people killed during the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Survivors of the shooting helped organize the rally in Washington, D.C., with sister marches occurring across the U.S. — including the one in St. Louis — and around the world.

 

As a light rain fell, demonstrators chanted and carried signs reading “enough is enough” and “make our schools safe again.”

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.”

 

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