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.

Ways To Connect

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.

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.    

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.

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.

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.

jay nixon 81814
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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

A new national report says more should be done to promote the safe use of chemicals at universities.

Washington University Provost Holden Thorp chaired the committee that wrote the National Research Council report.

He said the group sought to take lessons learned from safety incidents in fields such as health care, aviation and manufacturing, and apply them to academic chemistry research.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Soil tests conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show no health risk from radiation at the Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex.

The agency released its final report on the athletic complex on Thursday.

The complex sits less than a mile from the West Lake Landfill, which holds World War II-era radioactive waste illegally dumped there in the 1970s.

Courtesy of the Charlie Menees Collection, UMKC.

It spanned less than three blocks at the intersection of Olive and Boyle. And it only lasted about ten years.

But the arts and entertainment district known as Gaslight Square flourished in the 1950s and '60s, making St. Louis a national destination for music and culture.

In honor of St. Louis' 250th birthday, I took a little detour off my usual science beat to explore this extraordinary time and place in our city's history.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7/25/14 with information on a new lawsuit.

The Labadie Environmental Organization (LEO) has filed another lawsuit in their long-running campaign to prevent Ameren from building a coal ash landfill in Franklin County.

Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program

About half of the health care workers in the St. Louis area have less than a bachelor's degree.

The number of health care workers with lower levels of education is on the rise here but for the most part, their salaries are not.

That puts the St. Louis region in line with the national trend, according to a new report released on Thursday by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting decisions that could have major ramifications for the future of the Affordable Care Act.

The controversy hinges on whether people in the 36 states that opted NOT to set up their own health insurance exchanges can qualify for subsidies (really, tax credits) on their health insurance premiums. Missouri and Illinois are among those 36 that don't have state-run exchanges.

NASA

Forty-five years ago this Sunday, Apollo 11 became the first space flight to land men on the moon.

At Mission Control in Houston, Gene Kranz was the man in charge.

Kranz spent more than three decades working for the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, serving as flight director for both the Gemini and Apollo space programs.

Map provided by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Updated 7/3/14 with a link to the state's finalized Incident Management Plan for the Bridgeton Landfill.

State agency officials are concerned that the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill could break through to the surface.

That scenario was raised in a recent memo by landfill fire expert Todd Thalhamer, who has been consulting for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

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