Véronique LaCapra

Science Reporter

Véronique LaCapra first caught the radio bug while writing commentaries for NPR affiliate WAMU in Washington, D.C. After producing her first audio pieces 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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The Sierra Club says Ameren's Labadie power plant in Franklin County does not meet state and federal water quality standards and wants it brought into compliance.

On Friday, the environmental group filed an appeal with the state, alleging the plant’s operating permit does not do enough to protect wildlife or groundwater.

Scientists at Washington University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new tool to study how specific brain cells affect behavior.

The miniature, wireless device can inject drugs into the brains of live mice.

Researchers at Washington University have found that some multidrug resistant bacteria intentionally get rid of the genes that protect them from antibiotics. That discovery could eventually provide a new way to treat deadly infections.

Updated 10 a.m. Tuesday with cost information from Ameren.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the Obama administration, saying the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should have considered costs to industry when it set limits on mercury and other emissions from power plants.

The court's 5-to-4 decision was a victory for industry groups and more than 20 states — including Missouri — that had sued the EPA over its 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

Mary-Dell Chilton pioneered the field of genetic engineering in agriculture.

She has spent most of her decades-long career working for Syngenta, where she founded the agribusiness company's research on genetically modified seeds.

But Chilton started out in academia. And it was here in St. Louis, at Washington University, that she led the team that created the first genetically-modified plants in the early 1980s.

Véronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

  Throughout 2015, the City of Columbia has made strident efforts to overhaul its trash services. While most of the focus has been put on the potential “what if’s” of switching from the city’s current curbside pick-up system to an automated roll-cart service, there has also been discussion about how to raise the city’s diversion rate, or the amount of trash that the city throws away that doesn’t end up in landfills. However, some citizens are still asking for more  — to move to a more seamless single-stream recycling system like they have in Saint Louis.


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the operating license for Ameren's Callaway nuclear power plant through 2044.

But ongoing litigation could quash that renewal.

What if we could design a camera that could take a hundred billion pictures in a second ― enough to record the fastest phenomena in the universe.

Sounds like science fiction, right?

But it’s not: a new ultrafast imaging system developed at Washington University can do just that.

For the first time, the byproducts of coal-fired power plants will now be subject to federal regulation.

In a state like Missouri, which generates more than 80 percent of its electricity from coal, the new standards could have significant repercussions.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment has filed a petition to intervene with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to try to keep the NRC from relicensing Ameren's Callaway Nuclear Power Plant.

Update 1/7/15

The EPA has delayed their schedule to release carbon dioxide emissions rules until ‘midsummer,’ a top EPA official announced Wednesday.

The final rule for new power plants had been scheduled to be published January 8, with the rules for existing and modified power plants due June 2. Now, all will be released at the same time.

Movies can sometimes feel very real, bringing up emotions and even physical reactions as we watch them.

Washington University cognitive neuroscientist Jeffrey Zacks studies how the brain processes visual imagery, including what we see on film.

According to Zacks, movies hijack the parts of our brains that trigger our emotional responses and overstimulate them.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment is one of several groups filing suit against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to try to get the agency to address the long-term storage of nuclear waste.

That suit follows similar cases filed by the states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Prairie Island Indian Community in Minnesota.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on a major overhaul of Missouri's water quality standards.

The state approved the new regulations in November but needed federal approval to start enforcing them.

Monsanto will continue selling soybean seeds coated with pesticides that have been linked to honey bee deaths, even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found the seeds do not improve yields.

The seeds in question are treated with a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids, which are chemically similar to nicotine.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order on Wednesday, officially launching the development of a comprehensive state energy plan.

Cutting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants would also reduce other types of air pollution, both here in Missouri and nationally.

That's according to a recent analysis by researchers at Harvard and Syracuse Universities.

New research out of Washington University could help explain why malnourished children suffer long-term health effects, even after medical treatment.

As young children develop, the community of bacteria and other microbes in their intestines develops with them. In healthy children, the community reaches maturity about the time a child turns two years old.

Washington University microbiologist Jeff Gordon calls those tens of trillions of intestinal microbes “an organ within an organ,” because of the key role they play in helping people digest food and absorb its nutrients.

Veronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed the first-ever rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Saturday is sponsoring a nationwide prescription drug take-back event.

Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., anyone can turn in their expired or unwanted medications at thousands of police stations, pharmacies, and other sites across the country, including here in St. Louis.

Every year, monarch butterflies undertake what seems like an impossible journey.

By the millions, they leave their summer breeding grounds in the United States and Canada to fly thousands of miles to a small area of alpine forest in central Mexico.

Ecologist Lincoln Brower has been studying monarchs for almost 60 years.

Véronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

 

For years in most states, Medicaid eligibility had been limited to disabled adults, seniors needing long-term care and very low-income parents with their children.

Then along came the Affordable Care Act. It was designed to grow health insurance coverage across the board. One of its tenets was to expand Medicaid coverage beyond the extremely poor and disabled to include all adults earning up to 138 percent of federal poverty levels.

But in 2012, the Supreme Court gave states the chance to opt out Medicaid expansion.

Illinois is one of 25 states that went ahead with expanding the program. Neighboring Missouri did not.

We looked into the impacts of those differing decisions. Here’s what we found out.

The Obama administration says it will give people more time to sign up for health insurance through the federal online marketplace.

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