Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Shahla Farzan

Reporter

Shahla Farzan is a reporter at St. Louis Public Radio. She comes most recently from KBBI Public Radio in Homer, Alaska, where she covered issues ranging from permafrost thaw to disputes over prayer in public meetings. A science nerd to the core, Shahla spent six years studying native bees, eventually earning her PhD in ecology from the University of California-Davis. She has also worked as an intern at Capital Public Radio in Sacramento and a podcaster for BirdNote. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, combing flea markets for tchotchkes, and curling up with a good book. 

Ways to Connect

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Soybean growers in the Midwest are caught in the middle of an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China.

China retaliated against the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese products Friday by imposing $34 billion in tariffs on hundreds of American goods, including soybeans. Analysts say the added expense of China’s 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans will effectively block the product from entering the Chinese market.

Angie Wang | NPR

For breast cancer patients, race and geography can mean the difference between surviving and succumbing.

Washington University researchers have identified distinct hot spots in the U.S. where women are more likely to die from breast cancer. For African-American women and Latinas, these hot spots are predominantly clustered in specific regions across the southern U.S.

Zoo staff decided to bottle-feed the baby lemur after observing that her mother was unable to nurse her.
Ethan Riepl | St. Louis Zoo

A new, tiny resident will now greet visitors to the St. Louis Zoo Primate House.

Princess Buttercup, a female mongoose lemur, is the first of her species to be born and reared successfully at the zoo. The critically endangered lemur species, which is found only on Madagascar, is the focus of a national cooperative breeding program intended to build a healthy population in captivity.

Protesters march down Market Street in downtown St. Louis with handmade signs while chanting "We care! We vote!" The “Families Belong Together” rally was one of hundreds nationally on June 6, 2018.
Brian Heffernan | St. Louis Public Radio

Demonstrators gathered in the shadow of the Gateway Arch Saturday to protest the separation of more than 2,300 migrant children from their parents at the U.S. southern border.

A brass band wove through the crowd as St. Louis-area residents chanted and waved handmade signs in Kiener Plaza. The Families Belong Together rally in St. Louis was one of hundreds of marches held nationwide on Saturday.

Missouri Department of Conservation fisheries technician Shane Creasy treats a five-acre lake in Warren County with aquatic herbicide to kill hydrilla on June 8, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Shane Creasy stands on the edge of a lake and casts a plastic beaker full of thick white herbicide into the water.

The herbicide slowly fans out across the surface of the lake, as Creasy, a fisheries technician with the Missouri Department of Conservation, peels off his protective gloves. The target, an invasive aquatic plant known as hydrilla, is a tenacious adversary that takes years to eradicate.


Janie Oliphant, left, adjusts a LGBT flag held by Cody Copp and Samuel Taylor so they can have their picture taken at a rally and march in St. Louis in February 2017.
FILE PHOTO | RYAN DELANEY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

St. Louis will host two Pride festivals this weekend as part of a yearly celebration of LGBTQ+ culture and history.

Pride traces its roots back to the 1969 Stonewall Riots, when police raided a gay club in New York City, sparking widespread protests.  As in past years, two Pride celebrations will take place in St. Louis; a large, two-day event downtown and a community-driven festival in Tower Grove Park. 

Sharon Wade keeps an eye on Martha Wade, her 86-year-old mother, after serving her an afternoon snack.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Martha Wade spells a word, it sounds like a song.

Her daughter, Sharon Wade, sits with her on a plush couch and tries to come up with new words to stump the 86-year-old. As her mother’s full-time caregiver, Wade looks for activities to challenge her physically and mentally.

Sharon Wade’s situation is not unusual. Unlike previous generations, an increasing number of older Americans are choosing to continue living in their own homes, rather than moving to nursing facilities. Meanwhile, the high cost of in-home care means that the burden of caring for elderly adults often falls on family members.


Eileen Graessle, right, photographs a honeybee on a milkweed flower at the BeeBlitz in Forest Park on June 16, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Eileen Graessle leaned in close to a patch of milkweed, as she tried to capture a photo of a honeybee in motion.

It was a difficult task, but one that Graessle relished as a volunteer for the BeeBlitz citizen science project on Saturday in Forest Park. The annual event aims to help researchers determine which species are present in the city and how their populations are changing.

“It helps to study the way that they move,” said Graessle, an amateur beekeeper who lives in Ballwin. “I also take multiple shots and then usually some of those come out exciting and defined.”

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Children who eat poor diets are more likely to be bullies at school, according to research from Saint Louis University.

The study, which used data from a World Health Organization survey of 150,000 children across 40 countries in Europe and North America, examined the relationship between diet and bullying behavior. Students who had poor diets or experienced frequent meal deprivation were more likely to bully their peers.

Demonstrators marched north along Grand Avenue in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood on June 2, 2018 to call more attention to issues of gun violence.
File photo | Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Hundreds of St. Louis-area residents took to the streets on Saturday to call attention to gun violence.

The demonstrators took part in a silent march along Grand Avenue through the JeffVanderLou neighborhood, carrying signs that read “we can end gun violence” and “life is precious.” The event coincided with Wear Orange Weekend, an annual campaign against gun violence held nationwide.

Over 1,100 athletes competed in the 2018 St. Louis Senior Games, which included sports ranging from water volleyball to track and field.
St. Louis Jewish Community Center

In St. Louis, you’re never too old to become an Olympic athlete.

This weekend, hundreds of people from across the region have come together to compete in the 39th annual St. Louis Senior Olympics. The event, which is open to anyone over the age of 50, includes a wide range of sports.

A boy carries a rose at a Vietnam Memorial Ceremony at the College of the Ozarks, near Branson.
Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau | Flickr

Cities throughout the St. Louis region will host parades and ceremonies this weekend in observance of Memorial Day.

In preparation for the holiday weekend, the Missouri Department of Transportation has suspended construction work on interstates and state highways. Construction will resume on Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Researchers at Washington University are working to understand how a common mosquito-borne virus causes chronic arthritis.
USDA

Washington University researchers are one step closer to understanding how a common virus transmitted by mosquitoes causes chronic arthritis.

Like other mosquito-borne diseases, patients with chikungunya virus usually develop a fever and muscle aches. There is no known treatment for the virus, but it often clears up on its own within several weeks. For some patients, however, chikungunya causes severe arthritis that can last for months or even years.

Students and supporters call for racial justice as they march toward St. Louis Metropolitan Police headquarters on Olive Street. (May 19, 2018)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Students in St. Louis raised their voices on Saturday morning to protest racial profiling and systemic police violence against African-Americans.

More than 50 people attended the Black Lives Matter youth protest in downtown St. Louis. Police cars flanked the marchers as they walked down the center of Olive Street to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department headquarters, chanting and carrying signs with slogans like “Students for Black Lives” and “Don’t Shoot.”

St. Louis Public Radio’s Shahla Farzan is exploring issues related to elderly caregiving in the St. Louis area. Please respond to the questions below and join the conversation. If the form above doesn't load, you can answer our questions here.

Five-year-old Honore Locker colors alongside Maxi Glamour after Drag Queen Story Hour at St. Louis Public Library's Central Branch.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A group of drag queens in bejeweled ball gowns and stiletto heels brought unexpected glamour to storytime on Mother's Day weekend.

A rambunctious crowd packed into the auditorium of the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Branch on Saturday afternoon for Drag Queen Story Hour. The event, which aims to celebrate diversity and inclusion, drew more than 100 young children and their families.

Washington University professor Daniel Giammar is leading a team of engineers and geologists to understand how quickly carbon dioxide becomes limestone rock when injected into volcanic rock deep underground.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

With mounting concern over climate change, scientists around the world are looking for ways to keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

A team of geologists and engineers at Washington University is testing ways to trap carbon dioxide beneath the Earth’s surface. The process, known as carbon sequestration, involves injecting carbon dioxide deep underground. Over time, the gas reacts with the surrounding rock and water and becomes rock itself.


Understanding how bacteria detoxify and eat antibiotics might help us develop ways to address antibiotic contamination in the environment.
Michael Worful

Ten years ago, Gautam Dantas stumbled across a strange phenomenon in the lab: bacteria that were able to feed on antibiotics.

“The story really starts very serendipitously,” said Dantas, who is now a professor of pathology and immunology at Washington University. “Like whoa, there are bugs in the soil that are munching on antibiotics.”

Michael Dawson of the St. Louis Zoo shows an American toad to a group of fourth-graders from Community School on May 4, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Armed with clipboards and binoculars, students from the St. Louis area got a chance to explore nearby forests, fields and ponds, all while cataloging local wildlife.

Local naturalists and wildlife experts helped guide small groups of students as part of the first BioBlitz at Principia School in Town and Country on Friday. The BioBlitz, which happens each year in communities across the U.S., is an effort to record plants and animals, while also helping “citizen scientists” feel more connected to nature.

Local musicians perform at PorchFest STL in 2017. The event grew out of a partnership between Washington University students and the Skinker DeBaliviere Community Council.
Thomas Whitener

Residents in the Skinker DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis are set to welcome local musicians and bands Sunday afternoon for a unique music festival.

Inspired by a similar event in Ithaca, New York, PorchFest STL aims to bring the community together and encourage neighbors to connect with one another.

The lone star tick is an important vector of a number of diseases, including the heartland virus and ehrlichiosis.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Most people hope to avoid ticks when they take a walk in the woods.

For biologists at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center, however, attracting ticks is the goal.

In a recent study, Tyson researchers collected thousands of lone star ticks in the Missouri Ozarks. The results point to an interesting pattern: the number of ticks found in an area is closely related to the topography, or physical features, of the landscape.

Hawthorn students Lanet Williams, at left, and Lauryn Holmes, center, practice taking each other's blood pressure with Washington University medical student Helen Liljenwall on April 13, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University students are working closely with staff at Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls in north St. Louis to help students succeed academically and introduce them to new experiences.

As part of the InvestiGirls program, Wash U undergraduates provide after-school tutoring and enrichment workshops for Hawthorn students in sixth through ninth grade. The initiative, which is spearheaded by the university’s Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, recently completed its third year.

Mary Ostafi | Urban Harvest STL

A customized cargo bike full of fruits and vegetables will soon make an appearance in north St. Louis.

Urban Harvest STL and the St. Louis MetroMarket, will send the “Veggie Bike” on its maiden voyage next month. The program, which will initially distribute free produce, is intended to promote the MetroMarket’s mobile farmers market in a converted bus.

State Rep. Bob Burns' legislation would make it easier to hold disincorporation elections in St. Louis County.
File photo I Tim Bommel I House Communications

Updated at 10 p.m. April 23 with Burns saying he won't resign—The top leaders of the Missouri Democratic Party are calling for a south St. Louis County lawmaker to resign after he praised a radio host who commonly makes racist and misogynist remarks.

At issue are state Rep. Bob Burns’ calls into a radio show hosted by Bob Romanik, a Metro East political figure. He’s often said things on his show that are derogatory to African-Americans and women.

Curious Louis question-asker Rachel Duncan, left, and St. Louis Public Radio reporter Shahla Farzan, center, speak with Bill Houston of the Saint Louis Zoo.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Rachel Duncan doesn’t remember the first time she visted the St. Louis Zoo, but she’s pretty sure she was an infant.

“There’s not a summer in my life that I have not come to visit the St. Louis Zoo and enjoyed what it has to offer,” said Duncan. “It’s a part of my entire life.”

Like many St. Louisans, she feels personally connected to the animals at the zoo. That prompted her to ask our Curious Louis reporting series: What happens when an animal passes away at the zoo? Do they have a funeral? And how does it impact the workers?


Allan Doctor, professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine, is part of a research team working to develop an artificial blood substitute.
E. Holland Durando | Washington University

Thousands of people in the United States die each year due to severe blood loss, often before they reach an emergency room.

To help reduce the number of trauma deaths, a Washington University research team is working to develop an artificial blood substitute. The freeze-dried red powder, which can be reconstituted with sterile water, is intended to keep patients alive until they’re able to reach a hospital.

Enrollment for Missouri Medicare begins Tuesday and lasts until early December.
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University researchers are one step closer to understanding how to prevent the chronic pain associated with chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy patients often experience burning and tingling in the hands and feet, known as “chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain.” The condition has no known treatment, but new research offers a reason to hope. In a recent study, a team of SLU researchers successfully “turned off” the pain associated with a common chemotherapy drug.

 

Cassandra Pace, center, teaches Sarah Wright-Aholt and Kristin Carlson how to skin a rat at her Creaky Crow taxidermy class.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louisans looking for a new date night activity can add taxidermy to the list.

The Creaky Crow, a four-month-old curiosity shop on Cherokee Street, now offers hands-on taxidermy classes. Aspiring taxidermists learn the basics of animal preservation, from skinning to stuffing, while enjoying a glass of wine.

 


The Missouri Department of Conservation says honeysuckle can affect lake and stream banks, marsh, fens, sedge meadow, wet and dry prairies, savannas, floodplain and upland forests and woodlands.
Missouri Department of Conservation

This week, in the hallowed halls of the historic Old Courthouse in St. Louis, a local woodworker sued a shrub.

In an educational mock trial held Wednesday, a jury heard the case against invasive bush honeysuckle. The plant was first introduced to the U.S. from eastern Asia in the 1700s and has since spread to at least 31 states, including Missouri.

Mitali Sharma, center, marches with Clayton High School classmates in downtown St. Louis.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Thousands of people marched in downtown St. Louis on Saturday morning to protest gun violence and advocate for stricter gun control.

Saturday’s March for Our Lives event was a culmination of a month-long effort to honor the 17 people killed during the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Survivors of the shooting helped organize the rally in Washington, D.C., with sister marches occurring across the U.S. — including the one in St. Louis — and around the world.

 

As a light rain fell, demonstrators chanted and carried signs reading “enough is enough” and “make our schools safe again.”

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