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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Climate Change
5:12 am
Fri February 4, 2011

National Academy of Sciences president: people are contributing to climate change

President of the National Academy of Sciences Ralph Cicerone says rising sea levels—and the loss of ice from polar regions—are at least partially caused by human activities. (Karen de Seve)

There is strong evidence that human-produced greenhouse gases—like carbon dioxide and methane—are changing the Earth’s climate.

So says the President of the National Academy of Sciences, Ralph Cicerone.

He spoke about the science of climate change at the Saint Louis Science Center this week.

And Cicerone told St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra that although the climate has changed in the past, this time is different.

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Carter Carburetor Superfund Site
4:41 pm
Fri January 28, 2011

Coalition asking EPA for more time to evaluate cleanup options for Carter Carburetor Superfund Site



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The above map depicts Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club (right), across the street from the Carter Carburetor Superfund Site, a former gasoline and diesel carburetor manufacturing plant which closed in 1984.

A coalition of St. Louis City residents is asking the Environmental Protection Agency for more time to evaluate cleanup options for the Carter Carburetor Superfund Site on the city's north side.

The former gasoline and diesel carburetor manufacturing plant once owned by ACF Industries has dangerous levels of several toxic contaminants, including PCBs and asbestos.

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Biotech Agriculture
6:16 pm
Thu January 27, 2011

USDA gives full approval to Monsanto's genetically-modified alfalfa

Alfalfa fields in Idaho. (Flickr Creative Commons user Sam Beebe/Ecotrust)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that it has decided to allow unrestricted commercial planting of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa.

The alfalfa has been genetically-engineered to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate, known commercially as Roundup.

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Space/NASA
5:11 pm
Thu January 27, 2011

Space Shuttle Challenger remembered on 25th anniversary of tragedy

On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger and her seven-member crew were lost when a ruptured O-ring in the right Solid Rocket Booster caused the shuttle to break apart 73 seconds after launch. (NASA)

Twenty-five years ago, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart shortly after liftoff, killing all seven crew members on board.

Here in St. Louis, the Challenger Learning Center is offering a variety of programs honoring the Challenger crew and their families.

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Genetics
12:33 pm
Wed January 26, 2011

Researchers sequence genome of endangered orangutans

In the Malay language, oran-utan means "man of the forest." (Perry van Duijnhoven/Carel van Schaik)

An international team of researchers has sequenced the genomes of two species of orangutan.

Lead researcher Devin Locke of the Genome Center at Washington University said a primary motivation for studying the genes of orangutans is their close evolutionary relationship to humans.

“The lessons you learn from studying these species can be applied to understanding of our own evolution and the evolution of the human population as well,” Locke said.

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Ameren Missouri Sued
2:57 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

U.S. sues Ameren Missouri over Festus power plant

The location of the Ameren Rush Island power plant in Festus, Mo. Emissions violations at the plant are the topic of a lawsuit against Ameren Missouri filed today by the U.S. Department of Justice in St. Louis, Mo. (Google Maps)

Ameren Missouri and the U.S. Department of Justice are at odds over environmental concerns.

The federal government filed a lawsuit today against the energy company for violations of the Clean Air Act.

The suit alleges that Ameren made multi-million-dollar modifications to its coal-fired power plant in Festus (map image above), without installing required pollution controls and obtaining the necessary permits.

The government wants Ameren to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, to address any harm caused by the violations, and to pay civil penalties.

Ameren spokesperson Susan Gallagher says the company did nothing wrong.

"We believe that the position that the EPA is taking will impose significant costs on Ameren customers, especially in tough economic times."

Gallagher says the modifications at the Festus plant consisted of routine maintenance projects allowed under the Clean Air Act.

Haiti Earthquake Anniversary
11:05 pm
Tue January 11, 2011

Health and Nutrition in Haiti: One year after the quake

Lora Iannotti studies public health and nutrition in Haiti, including that of children. (C. VanArtsdalen)

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the Haitian earthquake.

The magnitude 7.0 tremor was the worst to hit the region in more than two centuries, killing over 200,000 people.

Today, more than a million Haitians are still living in tents and improvised shelters, without access to clean water and sanitation facilities.

Washington University professor Lora Iannotti was in Haiti on the day the earthquake struck. She has returned several times since then to continue her research in nutrition and public health.

Before going back to Haiti again last week, Iannotti spoke with St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra about health conditions in this struggling Caribbean nation.

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Statewide Tobacco Study
6:05 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

Tobacco use study underway, largest on adult health in Mo. history

A tobacco use study involving every county in Mo. is underway. (via Flickr/LawPrieR)
LawPrieR Flickr

The largest adult health study ever conducted in Missouri is underway across the state. The topic? Tobacco use and the diseases it causes.

The Missouri Foundation for Health is providing close to $2 million in funding for the telephone survey, which is expected to include more than 52,000 people.

Missouri Foundation for Health program officer Matthew Kuhlenbeck says the survey is a follow-up to a similar study conducted in 2007.

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Saint Louis Science Center
6:36 pm
Sun January 9, 2011

Climate change exhibition opens at Saint Louis Science Center

Burning fossil fuels, like oil and coal, produces pollutants — including carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change (© Kenn W. Kiser/Morguefile)

An exhibition on climate change has opened at the Saint Louis Science Center.

The exhibition stays away from political controversies, focusing on the science of climate change and its human and environmental implications.

Through text, diagrams, interactive stations, and videos, the exhibition shows how human activities are producing greenhouse gasses and contributing to climate change.

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Danforth Foundation
10:20 am
Fri January 7, 2011

Danforth Foundation "closing its doors" May 31

Dr. James Carrington, incoming president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center gives his remarks while former U.S. Senator John Danforth and his brother William Danforth (R) look on at the announcement of the ending of the Danforth Foundation.
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

In a press conference this morning, the Danforth Foundation announced that it is closing after 84 years of operation at the end of this fiscal year, May 31, 2011.

The foundation's last act will be a $70 million donation to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

The last donation is the largest in foundation's history, which has contributed $226 million to the Plant Science Center over the years.

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