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Washington University

A 100-foot sculpture  made from fibers and plastic sheets hangs from the ceiling at St. Louis Lambert International Airport over the heads of Southwest Airlines passengers waiting to pass through security.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Amid the hustle and bustle of morning rush at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, a man in a red baseball hat, blue sportswear shirt, and flip flops chats with a woman in jeans and T-shirt and an adolescent girl in tie-dye.

Much of their exchange is lost to the cacophony of people asking agents for directions, complaining to airport workers about the long security line and making bland observations about arrivals and departures. Yet one comment slips through the noise.

“Wow, it looks like a lake,” the man said, nodding up at the new sculpture hanging from the ceiling, before turning to head through the security checkpoint.

Darnell Loyd, of Northwest Academy of Law High School, is one of 50 students enrolled in Washington University's summer College Prep Program.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University is a top-tier college, attracting both the nation’s smartest and richest students. That often puts the private university on the wrong end of rankings for socioeconomic diversity.

To reverse that distinction, Wash U is halfway through an effort to have at least 13 percent of its students be from low-income backgrounds or be the first in their family to attend college. But proponents of college access say the goal isn’t ambitious enough — and won’t help foster a different atmosphere on campus.

A still from student film "Grieve" depicts a solemn young black man's face against a brick wall.
Provided by Washington University

As Washington University student Sagar Brahmbhatt went through training in the school’s Uncle Joe’s Peer Counseling program, he was struck by the value of a fundamental emotion: grief.  Brahmbhatt learned that internalizing emotional pain without an outlet can be harmful and that grieving is healthy. 

“Once you do accept grief, although you do feel sad, you’re more at peace with it” he said.  “And eventually, once you go through the grieving process, you may get better.”

Engineers at Washington University used locusts to test a nasal spray that could be used to treat brain cancer and other diseases.
Washington University

Washington University researchers are developing a device that could vastly improve how doctors treat cancer and other diseases in the brain. 

Delivering drugs to the brain is complicated because the three-pound organ is shielded by a complex network of blood vessels, called the blood-brain barrier, that keeps out foreign substances. However, the fortress of vessels works so well that it's challenging to provide medication through a pill or an injection.

The Wash U device could change everything. It would deliver tiny particles by nasal spray.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
(via Flickr/Washington University/with permission)

Updated, 7:40 p.m. with statement from Washington University —

About 120 full-time faculty members who aren’t eligible for tenure at Washington University will be able to decide whether to unionize before the end of the school year.

Dick Gephardt in 2013
File photo | Sid Hastings | WUSTL

Former U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt has a key message for everyone these days: Politics “is a substitute for violence,” and respect for all is crucial.

That's a preview of what the one-time Democratic political leader will convey during a speech on Friday at Washington University.  The St. Louis native is taking part in the IMPACT Conference, which brings together college activists from around the country.

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic blood disorder that alters red blood cells. A defect in hemoglobin (a protein that helps the cells carry oxygen through the body) causes red blood cells to become rigid and take on a crescent (sickle) shape.
National Institutes of Health

Improved treatments for sickle cell disease are extending the life expectancy of thousands of people in the United States, but many patients still lack adequate care.

A grant from the National Institutes of Health could help. It will fund a six-year study at eight medical centers, including Washington University in St. Louis, to identify the needs of local patients and find ways to meet them.

Kielah Harbert is studying business and African-American studies at Washington University. She co-wrote '#Admitted,' a college application guide for first generation students. She's standing outside Brookings Hall on December 2, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis native Kielah Harbert remembers how nervous she felt when she hit submit and sent out her college applications.

“Everything was done and it was just a waiting game,” said Harbert, who will be the first in her family to graduate from college next year. “But when I sent it out I was confident that I would get in to a school that would be beneficial to my future. And so it wasn't ‘OK I have to get into this school.’ It was ‘This is what I been waiting for. This is it.’ ”

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of Pluto on July 14, 2015.
NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Data from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft suggest that a syrupy ocean filled with ammonia could dwell beneath Pluto's icy shell. 

There is no direct evidence for an ocean on Pluto, but scientists argue it's very likely, given that a subsurface ocean would explain the planet's particular rotation and tectonics. In a recent paper published in the journal Nature, researchers mused that an ocean at extremely low temperatures could be maintained if it contained ammonia. Ammonia has also been detected by the New Horizons probe on two of Pluto's moons. 

"It expands our ideas on what oceans can be," said Bill McKinnon, a Washington University professor and co-principal investigator of the New Horizons Mission. "We'll probably find, ultimately in our exploration, that things are even stranger than we think."

Washington University Professor Peter Kastor teaches his freshman politics seminar on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

On Election Day, as he does every day, Washington University freshman Jordan Phillips called his grandma in Florida. His message was a definite one.

“I called her about an hour before the polls started closing,” Phillips said. “She jokingly said, ‘Jordan, who's going to win the election?’ I said I would bet everything I have that Hillary Clinton's going to win.

“Then I called her the next day, and she's like, ‘So you owe me everything you have.’”

A member of Washington University engineering professor Rajan Chakrabarty's laboratory lights up forest material in a combustion chamber.
Provided by Washington University in St. Louis

Recent studies have indicated that wildfires such as the ones that have raged in the western United States could have a cooling effect on our climate. But early findings by engineers at Washington University suggest that wildfire smoke could have a warming effect on the atmosphere. 

Using material from forests in the west, Wash U scientists have been recreating wildfires in the laboratory to understand the effects such events have on climate and public health. Research predicts that wildfires could occur more frequently and for longer periods of time. A 2012 study suggests that the area burned by wildfires in the United States could double by 2050.

College of St. Louis community college meramec, umsl and washington university
St. Louis Public Radio file photos

As faculty members at the University of Missouri-St. Louis continue talking about forming a union, part-time teachers at Washington University are working under the first semester of their union contract.

And though some Washington U. adjuncts have questions about how much benefit the union will actually provide, organizers say the contract is working well, though they acknowledge that a period of adjustment is normal when conditions change.

Live fact check asset
Courtesy NPR

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton face off in the final presidential debate Wednesday night at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more, is live annotating the debate. Portions of the debate with added analysis are highlighted, followed by context and fact check from NPR reporters and editors.

Reporters interview surrogates following the presidential debate at Washington University.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Inside a spin room packed to the gills with reporters, campaign surrogates tried to put their best face forward about the debate.

“The first 20 minutes started out a little rocky,” said U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, a Republican from Salem, Missouri. “But the next hour and 10 minutes was focused on a lot of policy and issues that Americans are really paying a lot of attention to: health care, taxation, the Supreme Court vacancies. So I thought that was pretty good.”

But Smith’s colleague, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, had a much dimmer view of Trump’s performance.

Engineers at Washington University have found a way to make biofuel from e-coli bacteria.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

People in much of the country are familiar with ethanol, a type of biofuel made from corn that is added to gasoline.

But many may not know that it is also possible to make biofuel from bacteria like e-coli. That could change, now that engineers at Washington University have found a more cost-effective way to make fuel from bacteria.

Gayle Bentley, a doctoral student in the Department of Energy, Environment and Chemical Engineering  at Wash U, has discovered how to change an enzyme in some types of bacteria so that it produces compounds that act like the ones in petroleum. Bentley recently published her findings in the journal Metabolic Engineering.

Edem and Pam Dzunu work in the Office of International Students and Scholars at Washington University.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

For Edem and Pam Dzunu, the desire to help others develop intercultural communication skills stems from personal experience.

In 2009, Edem, who is originally from Ghana, came to Missouri to meet his then-fiancé’s family for the first time. The couple was shaken when Pam’s family immediately rejected Edem and refused to even talk to him because of his racial and ethnic background.

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

Part-time instructors at Saint Louis University have joined their colleagues at three other local campuses and voted to join the Service Employees International Union.

In results of mail-in balloting announced Monday, the unionization proposal won by a vote of 76 percent, 89-28.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
(via Flickr/Washington University/with permission)

Adjunct instructors at Washington University have approved their first contract with the school, gaining an increase in pay, more control over schedules and improved working conditions.

Michael O’Bryan, an English instructor who has been involved in negotiations since the adjuncts approved joining the Service Employees International Union more than a year ago, said the four-year pact was approved by “a hefty margin” in balloting on Wednesday and Thursday. University acceptance of the contract remains just a formality, a spokeswoman said.

Morgan DeBaun, co-founder and CEO of Blavity.
Blavity

Morgan DeBaun is co-founder and CEO of Blavity, a media startup that seeks to be the “voice of black millennials.” She says the organization got the name from a phenomenon she witnessed while attending Washington University.

A St. Louis Start

DeBaum, St. Louis native, said that if you head to the Danforth University Center on campus, you’ll find a bunch of tables with a big, round table in the middle.

Sandor Weisz | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1VkvzmF

  By the end of this year, the American Cancer Society estimates that more than 49,000 people in the United States will die from colorectal cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

In 2015, Erica Barnell, the CEO of Geneoscopy, helped start a company that seeks to reduce the number of colorectal cancer deaths by expanding preventive screening through noninvasive methods.

Author Gail Pellett of "Forbidden Fruit: 1980 Beijing" spoke with "St. Louis on the Air" host  Don Marsh.
Alex Heuer

Author Gail Pellet recently released a new memoir called “Forbidden Fruit: 1980 Beijing,” which details her experience working for Radio Beijing as a foreign expert.

“I was hired as the first experienced broadcast journalist to work at Radio Beijing,” Pellett told host Don Marsh.  

Pellett discussed her experiences in China as well as her connection to St. Louis — she was a student at Washington University during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Washington University

Updated 6:33 p.m. April 13, with tentative agreement: Washington University and unionized part-time faculty members announced a four-year tentative agreement late Wednesday that covers wages, job security and other issues the instructors had sought.

The move turns a planned protest rally and faculty walkout scheduled for Thursday into what a union spokeswoman called a victory rally.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The term “palliative care” has been bandied about quite a bit as of late. But what does it mean? On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, three people joined host Don Marsh to discuss what palliative care means and how it differs from hospice care.

Joining the program to discuss palliative care:

Sunrise, Daylight Saving Time
Matthias Bachmann | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1QM0RMs

Love it or hate it, Daylight Saving Time starts at 2:00 a.m. on March 13. Across the country, people will lose an hour of sleep in exchange for longer days through the summer. Is it worth it?

On one hand, traffic accidents increase for three days following the time change and people become more irritable and groggy upon losing sleep. Absenteeism and heart attacks also increase directly following the time people switch their clocks forward an hour.

A flu vaccine dose beside several needles.
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

A Washington University professor has a possible business solution to a perennial public health problem: flu vaccine shortages.

Olin Business School professor Fuqiang Zhang and his research partners are proposing a combination of existing contract incentives.

Edward T. (Tad) Foote II helped start New City School, worked on desegregation plan and headed the Washington University School of Law.
Provided by the University of Miami

Edward T. Foote II was a fellow who took on extraordinarily complex problems and proceeded to solve them, sometimes leaving friends and family wondering how he successfully navigated such dangerous waters, and just as often, secretly wondering why he took on the jobs he did.

Mr. Foote, formerly of St. Louis, died Monday in a nursing home in Cutler Bay, Fla., of complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 78 years old.

Dr. Andrew Kates of the Washington University Heart Care Institute at Barnes-Jewish Hospital to join “St. Louis on the Air” to discuss new developments in heart health research and answer questions about the heart.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

February is Heart Health Month. As such, we invited Dr. Andrew Kates of the Washington University Heart Care Institute at Barnes-Jewish Hospital to join “St. Louis on the Air” to discuss new developments in heart health research and answer questions about the heart.

Here are five questions we asked and five things we learned:

1. Heart disease kills more women every year than every other kind of cancer combined. Why?

Washington University

Nine months after contract talks with newly unionized adjunct instructors began at Washington University, negotiators have tentative agreements on a dozen workplace issues.

But the thornier issues of salary and benefits still remain to be settled.

Washington University

Donors to Washington University are giving more than anticipated – and students will be paying more in the fall as well.

The university said Thursday that it is ahead of its timetable for its $2.2 billion fund-raising campaign slated to end on Dec. 31, 2018, so it is raising its goal to $2.5 billion. As of the end of last month, the university said, alumni, parents and others had contributed $2.12 billion to the campaign, which is titled “Leading Together.”

In the early 1970s, Washington University had more African American students enrolled than ever before. They created a guide to help future black students navigate the university and St. Louis.
Courtesy Washington University Library

When Ralph Hargrow arrived at Washington University from his home in the East Coast in 1969, he was part of a growing group of black students on a campus going through the same kind of drastic change that was hitting the nation as a whole.

The previous December, a group of black students had confronted Chancellor Thomas Eliot in his office in stately Brookings Hall and presented demands that later came to be known as a “Black Manifesto.”

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