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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Wildlife
1:47 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

That Strange Cloud Over St. Louis Last Week? Migrating Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies fill the skies at their overwintering grounds in Mexico.
Credit Lincoln Brower

Last Friday, the St. Louis office of the National Weather Service picked up something pretty unusual on its radars.

As first reported by Citylab’s John Metcalfe, meteorologists detected a cloud-like formation that kept moving around and changing into odd shapes. After some analysis, they concluded that the “cloud” was in fact a giant swarm of monarch butterflies, headed south on its annual migration to Mexico.

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Hospital-Acquired Infections
4:56 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Early-Stage Wash U Vaccine Could Prevent The Most Common Hospital Infection

In hospital patients, a plastic tube called a catheter can be inserted into the bladder through the urethra, to empty the bladder of urine.
Credit A.D.A.M via the National Institutes of Health

Researchers at Washington University have developed a new vaccine to prevent urinary tract infections caused by catheters. This type of infection is the most common of all infections that patients can get during a hospital stay.

The vaccine is still in its very early stages and has only been tested on mice.

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Mental Health - Genetics
11:01 pm
Sun September 14, 2014

Wash U Study: Genetics Shows Schizophrenia Is Really Multiple Disorders

A Washington University study has linked dozens of gene networks to eight different forms of schizophrenia.
Credit Jonathan Bailey, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH

New research from Washington University suggests that schizophrenia is actually a group of eight distinct disorders, each with a different genetic basis.

The findings could eventually open the door to earlier diagnosis and treatment of this debilitating mental disorder, which affects more than 3 million people in the United States.

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STEM Workforce
8:43 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

New Report Says STEM Jobs Are On The Rise. But Can St. Louis Fill Them?

The 2014 State of the St. Louis STEM Workforce Report suggests the region needs more workers with the specialized knowledge and skills required to fill a growing number of jobs in science, engineering, technology and math.
Credit Image courtesy of St. Louis Community College

By 2022, employment in the STEM fields ― science, technology, engineering and math ― is projected to grow by 12.4 percent in the St. Louis region.

That’s compared to an expected growth of only 9.2 percent for non-STEM jobs.

Those are among the estimates provided in the sixth annual State of the St. Louis Workforce Report, released this week by the St. Louis Community College.

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Agricultural Biotechnology
10:40 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Emerging Ag Tech Companies Compete For Funding, Partnerships At Danforth Center Conference

The Danforth Center's Ag Innovation Showcase brings together hundreds of agriculture industry representatives from all over the world.
Credit Melanie Bernds, Danforth Plant Science Center

"Precision agriculture" is the trend to watch at this year's Ag Innovation Showcase at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

The Danforth Center’s Chief Operator Officer, Sam Fiorello, said that's a change for the international gathering.

When the Showcase started in 2009, most of the participating start-ups were using genetic engineering to develop crops that could resist pests, drought or other agricultural stresses.

This year, none of the products presented involve GMOs.    

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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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