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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On this map, the location of the new temperature monitoring probes that Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources wants Republic Services to install is marked with a purple line.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Updated 10/17/14: Republic Services has confirmed that it agreed on Thursday, in writing, to comply with all of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' requirements ― although the company remains committed to its position that the additional measures are not needed.

Our original story:

There are something on the order of 12,000 to 15,000 pieces of space debris larger than a softball in size orbiting the Earth.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Space debris probably isn’t at the top of your list of day-to-day concerns.

The junk we’ve left floating around in space includes everything from spent rocket stages and old satellites, to nuts and bolts ― even tiny flecks of paint.

And it’s constantly colliding with satellites and anything else in what's known as “low Earth orbit,” including the International Space Station.

Archaeologists from the Illinois State Archaeological Survey dig at the former 1851 house site of Priscilla Baltimore in Brooklyn, Illinois.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Brooklyn, Ill., is a small, predominantly African-American town, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

What little revenue the town brings in comes mostly from strip clubs. But there’s more to Brooklyn than that.

Archaeologists from the Illinois State Archaeological Survey have been digging for evidence of Brooklyn’s pre-Civil-War past, trying to solve some of the mysteries about its origins.

This CT scan of the mummy Henut-Wedjebu, an upper class Egyptian woman who lived about 3,400 years ago, shows small shiny objects that appear to float around her head. These could be glass beads, embedded in a wig or shroud.
Washington University

Barnes-Jewish Hospital had some unusual “patients” on Sunday: three ancient Egyptian mummies.

Washington University radiologists put each mummy through a CT scanner, which uses X-rays to “see” through the mummies’ wrappings, and high-powered computing to generate detailed, 3-D images of the tissues, bones and organs underneath.

The mummies were already X-rayed in the late '60s, and two were CT-scanned in the '90s.

Dr. Leonard Bacharier, a Washington University pediatrician and asthma expert, consults with a patient at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
Robert Boston|St. Louis Children's Hospital

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis needs African Americans with asthma to enroll in a study evaluating different treatments.

Previous research suggests that some medications may not work as well for blacks as for whites.

Via Wikimedia Commons/Victor byckttor

Giving teenagers access to free, long-term contraception can dramatically reduce rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion. That's according to new research out of Washington University in St. Louis.

The study is part of a larger effort called the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, whose goal is to promote long-acting forms of birth control like intrauterine devices (IUDs) and contraceptive implants in order to reduce unplanned pregnancies in the St. Louis region.

Ameren’s 2,400-megawatt plant near Labadie, Missouri, is the state’s largest coal-fired power plant. It produces an average of 550,000 tons of coal ash each year.
Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 10/1/2014 to add comments.

Missouri is making headway toward developing a Comprehensive State Energy Plan Wednesday with the inaugural public meeting in St. Louis of the plan's steering committee.

Also on Wednesday, the state's largest electric energy provider, Ameren, released its energy plan for the next two decades.

Credit Syracuse University News Services

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first-ever rule to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

Under the new limits, Missouri would need to reduce its emissions by about 21 percent over the next 15 years.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra spoke with EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks about the plan, which Brooks said is designed to give states maximum flexibility.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Quite a bit of information has come out over the past month about the West Lake and Bridgeton Landfills ― some of it contradictory and confusing.

So when EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks offered up an interview ― about something else ― I took advantage of my time with him to try to clear up some of that confusion.

We talked about the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill; about the firebreak that’s supposed to keep it from reaching the radioactive waste at the adjacent West Lake Landfill; and about groundwater contamination in Bridgeton.

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.

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.

Jonathan Bailey | 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.

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.

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