Véronique LaCapra

Science Reporter

Science reporter Véronique LaCapra first caught the radio bug writing commentaries for NPR affiliate WAMU in Washington, D.C. After producing her first audio documentaries at the Duke Center for Documentary Studies in N.C., she was hooked! She has done ecological research in the Brazilian Pantanal; regulated pesticides for the Environmental Protection Agency in Arlington, Va.; been a freelance writer and volunteer in South Africa; and contributed radio features to the Voice of America in Washington, D.C. She earned a Ph.D. in ecosystem ecology from the University of California in Santa Barbara, and a B.A. in environmental policy and biology from Cornell. LaCapra grew up in Cambridge, Mass., and in her mother’s home town of Auxerre, France.

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Urban Wildlife
3:23 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Night Of The Cemetery Bats

Big brown bats like this one are relatively common in urban areas, sometimes roosting in buildings. Contrary to popular belief, bats rarely carry rabies and are not rodents. They belong to the order Chiroptera, which means "hand-wing."
Courtesy of Robert Marquis

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 6:28 pm

I've visited St. Louis' Bellefontaine cemetery before, but never at night.

It's really dark. The looming trees are black against the sky, where a half-moon is just barely visible behind some clouds.

I can see eerie lights and strange, shadowy figures moving among the gravestones.

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African-American Health
7:01 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Monthly Blood Transfusions Can Prevent “Silent” Strokes In Children With Sickle Cell Anemia

In children with sickle cell anemia, some red blood cells are malformed, shaped like a crescent instead of a disc. This makes them more likely to clump together, causing organ damage, strokes, and pain.
Credit National Institutes of Health

An international study initiated by Washington University has found that giving monthly blood transfusions to children with sickle cell anemia can significantly reduce their risk of what are known as “silent” strokes.

Unlike regular strokes, which have sudden, overt symptoms like difficulty speaking or numbness in an arm or leg, silent strokes can only be detected with an MRI scan, so they generally go unnoticed by parents and physicians.

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Michael Brown
7:04 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

What Will It Take To End The Violence In Ferguson?

Protesters are met by a line of Missouri Highway Patrol members during a protest march in Ferguson on Aug. 11.
Credit Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Most people want the nightly violence in the streets of Ferguson to end.

But getting there could take a while.

The protestors who have been gathering daily in Ferguson since the shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9 say they just want justice done.

For many, that means seeing police officer Darren Wilson arrested and imprisoned.

But Washington University public health professor Darrell Hudson said short of that, providing more information about the investigations would help.

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Ferguson
8:36 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Nixon Says National Guard Needed, But Are Troops Wanted?

Gov. Jay Nixon
Credit Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Gov. Jay Nixon is defending his decision to deploy Missouri National Guard troops to Ferguson.

Nixon issued a statement earlier this morning, announcing his decision to send in the Guard after what may have been the worst night of rioting since the protests began a week ago. Nixon explained his decision by citing "violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk."

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Ferguson
11:01 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Coming To Grips With The Conflict, In Ferguson And Beyond

Arianna Whiteside stands in front of police officers in riot gear during a protest march to the Ferguson Police Department on Aug. 11.
Credit David Broome, UPI

Since Saturday’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown, St. Louisans have been trying to understand and deal with what happened.

How could a college-bound teenager with no history of violence or criminal behavior end up shot to death by a police officer in his own neighborhood? St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra and Tim Lloyd went to look for answers and to find out what people in Ferguson are doing to cope.

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Newborn Health
2:01 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Study: Preterm Babies Have Different Gut Microbes ― Which Could Affect Their Health

Dr. Barbara Warner (left) and nurse Laura Linneman check on infant Skylar Angel in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Skylar and her twin, Bayley, were born prematurely.
Credit Elizabethe Holland Durando, Washington University School of Medicine

A team of researchers at Washington University has found that babies born prematurely have very different gut microbes than those of babies carried to term.

All children are born with almost no microbes in their intestines. Their gut microbial communities develop quickly in the weeks after birth ― although the communities don't reach full maturity until children are 2 or 3 years old.

But little is known about how this microbial development occurs.

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Health - Consumer Protection
2:44 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Missouri To Receive Close To $700,000 As Part Of Nationwide Kidney Drug Settlement

The drug sirolimus, marketed by Pfizer subsidiary Wyeth under the brand name Rapamune, is only FDA approved for use after kidney transplants to prevent organ rejection.
Credit U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Missouri will receive $693,000 as part of a nationwide settlement over the kidney transplant drug, Rapamune.

Neighboring Illinois will get more than $1.3 million.

The drug company Pfizer, whose subsidiary Wyeth makes Rapamune, has agreed to pay out a total of $35 million to 41 U.S. states and the District of Columbia as part of the settlement.

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Climate Change
6:48 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Missouri Institutions To Share $20 Million Grant To Study Climate Change

Part of the NSF grant will be used to study the effects of drought on plants, in particular corn. This image shows leaves of a single species of plant (not corn), grown under normal and drought conditions. An infrared scan can detect chemical changes in the drought-stressed leaf that are invisible to the human eye.
Credit Mikhail Berezin, Washington University

Updated 8/6/14:

The National Science Foundation has awarded $20 million to academic and research institutions across Missouri to study climate change.

Five states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands, have received one of the NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grants.

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Invasive Species
4:36 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Sweet-Smelling Honeysuckle Is A Not-So-Sweet Invader

These billboards are part of an invasive honeysuckle education campaign, by the environmental fundraising organization Magnificent Missouri. Dan Burkhardt, who founded Magnificent Missouri, is a major donor to St. Louis Public Radio.
Credit Magnificent Missouri

You may have seen the billboards, calling honeysuckle an "enemy of the state."

Huh?

It turns out that pretty bush with its fragrant, white and yellow flowers isn't so sweet after all.

Erin Shank is an urban wildlife biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. But she spends a lot of her time these days trying to get rid of invasive honeysuckle.

"We certainly have quite a bit of it, no doubt about that," Shank said. "And it’s a bugger of a plant to control and manage."

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Bridgeton Landfill
5:49 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Bridgeton Landfill Owner To Pay More Than $4.6 Million To Neighboring Homeowners

Republic Services, the owner of the Bridgeton landfill, has agreed to pay almost $6.9 million to about 400 homeowners who had said that the landfill’s odors had damaged their property values.
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated at 5:30 p.m., Fri., Aug.1, 2014)

A U.S. District Court has finalized a lawsuit settlement between Bridgeton Landfill owner Republic Services and hundreds of people living near the landfill.

Under the settlement, Republic will pay a total of at least $4.6 million to compensate 947 current and former area residents.

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