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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(Updated at 3:39 p.m., February 20)

Every winter, hundreds of trumpeter swans migrate from their breeding grounds in Wisconsin to the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, just across the Mississippi River from Alton.

This year there are about 900 of them, a record for our area.

On a recent cold, blustery St. Louis morning, I got up well before dawn to drive the 20 miles north to the sanctuary and record this audio postcard.

New data are adding to concerns that exposure to radioactive waste in Coldwater Creek could be causing cancers and other health problems.

Nuclear waste generated by the Mallinckrodt Company was dumped in North St. Louis County after World War II, contaminating the creek and surrounding areas.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster wants more air monitoring at the Bridgeton Landfill, where an underground fire has been smoldering for more than three years.

Attorney General Koster asked the St. Louis County Circuit Court on Thursday to order the landfill's owner to collect more data on carbon monoxide emissions.

In an investigation spanning the past few months, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon has discovered the state of Missouri may be ignoring its own laws in carrying out the death penalty by buying execution drugs from a pharmacy not licensed to do business in Missouri.

It’s winter again in St. Louis ― and that means the start of flu season.

Dr. Faisal Khan with the St. Louis County Department of Health says he’s seen a sharp spike in the number of reported flu cases in the past couple of weeks.

He says that quick uptick is normal for this time of year, and it’s too soon to tell whether the current pattern will continue.

Rosemary / Flickr

This Monday marks another big deadline under the Affordable Care Act. That's the last day that people can sign up for insurance through the online marketplace and have their coverage begin on January 1.

Randall Hyman

Randall Hyman is a St. Louis-based photojournalist and writer. For more than three decades, he has traveled the globe covering cultural and environmental issues.

Updated Thursday 10:15 p.m.

The Sierra Club says Ameren has been routinely violating air quality standards at its St. Louis-area power plants.

In a Notice of Intent to Sue delivered to Ameren on Wednesday afternoon, the Sierra Club alleges the company's Labadie, Meramec, and Rush Island plants have exceeded air pollution limits almost 10,000 times since 2008.

David Stonner / Missouri Department of Conservation

A report released on Friday by the Missouri auditor's office says the state continued to overspend on its elk restoration project, even after a 2011 audit found it was way over budget.

The current audit found the Missouri Department of Conservation spent close to $3.4 million to bring 129 elk into the state. Only an estimated 115 elk have survived.

But conservation department Deputy Director Tom Ripperger says those figures are misleading.

InspiredHomeFitness / Flickr

Obesity has increased dramatically in the United States over the past several decades.

A month ago, St. Louis Public Radio reported on the questionable manner in which the state of Missouri got ahold of its potential execution drug. Now Missouri has a new plan to go ahead with two upcoming executions, but the process is anything but open.

Updated 11/14/13 3:24 p.m.

Veronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday, Governor Jay Nixon postponed the execution of an inmate that was set for later this month. That execution was going to be carried out using propofol, a common anesthetic that has never been used in a lethal injection before. So why the change in plans?

Compiled by Kelsey Proud, St. Louis Public Radio / Flickr

Starting on October 1, Missourians will be able to shop for health insurance through a new online marketplace. It’s one of the biggest changes in health insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act.

But there’s still a lot of confusion about how the exchanges will work.

St. Louis Public Radio's Véronique LaCapra spoke with the Missouri Foundation for Health’s Ryan Barker to try to get some answers. Here's an excerpt from their conversation.

How will Missourians access the new health insurance options?

Starting on October 1, Missourians will be able to shop for health insurance through a new online marketplace. It’s one of the biggest changes in health insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act.

But there’s still a lot of confusion about how the exchanges will work.

St. Louis Public Radio's Véronique LaCapra spoke with the Missouri Foundation for Health’s Ryan Barker to try to get some answers.

How will Missourians access the new health insurance options?

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in St. Louis on Thursday to talk about the Affordable Care Act.

Sebelius met with city and county officials and representatives of the local healthcare community in a closed-door session at St. Louis City Hall.

Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Sebelius said as of October 1, Missourians will be able to purchase health insurance through a new online marketplace.

Sebelius said many of Missouri's 800,000 uninsured will be able to get coverage.

Missouri's coal-fired power plants are among the largest sources of carbon dioxide pollution in the country and a significant contributor to global warming.

The Missouri Botanical Garden has completed a 26-year effort to document the state's native plants.

The three-volume Flora of Missouri contains illustrations, plant distribution maps, and a detailed description of each species, including its taxonomy, uses, and conservation status.

This encyclopedic work updates the original Flora of Missouri, first published in 1963 by the late Julian Steyermark.

If you happen to be near the Saint Louis Science Center planetarium at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, look up. You might see a weather balloon.

Students at Saint Louis University are launching them as part of a study sponsored by the U.S. space agency NASA.

The mission aims to improve our understanding of air pollution and global climate.

Updated at 5:00 p.m.

A St. Louis-based environmental group has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to provide information about a multi-state oil pipeline project.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment says the Corps unlawfully withheld documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

A Monsanto researcher is one of the winners of the 2013 World Food Prize.

Monsanto Chief Technology Officer Robert Fraley will share the international honor with Mary-Dell Chilton of Syngenta and Belgian plant scientist Marc Van Montagu.

It has been just over three months since the federal spending cuts known as sequestration first took effect.

A handful of programs were spared — but not scientific research, which amounts to about $140 billion in annual government spending.

As St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra found out, at universities here in St. Louis, some scientists are worried about what the budget cuts will mean for their research — and for their students.

"I had to let go of some science."

Environmental groups are once again urging state officials to require groundwater monitoring at Ameren’s coal-fired power plants in eastern Missouri.

The Sierra Club and Labadie Environmental Organization submitted a letter to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on Thursday asking the state not to allow Ameren to build new coal ash landfills before testing groundwater for contamination.

Updated Wednesday, May 22, 5:30 p.m.: The Department of Health & Senior Services is also posting its evaluations of the air monitoring data here. The regulatory standards that DHSS is using to estimate the health risks from landfill fumes are here.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced a preliminary agreement on Tuesday with the owner of the Bridgeton Landfill.

Koster filed a lawsuit against Republic Services six weeks ago, alleging violations of state environmental laws. A fire has been smoldering underground at the landfill for two and half years.

grabadonut / Flickr

In separate studies both published on Wednesday, researchers at Washington University helped lead the genomic analysis of two types of cancer.

Lee Harkness / Flickr

The EPA says a new round of dioxin sampling at Route 66 State Park confirms it poses no risk to park workers and visitors.

Alex E. Proimos / FLICKR

For the second year in a row, the March of Dimes has given Missouri a grade of “C” in its annual state rankings of premature birth rates. Factors including maternal smoking, lack of access to health care, and obesity are to blame.

The Director of Newborn Medicine at St. Louis Children's Hospital, Dr. F. Sessions Cole, calls preterm birth a major problem for our region.

More 'Baby Giants' Arrive At The Saint Louis Zoo

Nov 2, 2012

The Saint Louis Zoo once again is teeming with baby giant salamanders.

For the second year in a row, the zoo has successfully bred endangered Ozark hellbenders in captivity.

widdowquinn / Flickr

A federal panel is calling for stronger privacy protections for human genetic data.

In a report out Thursday, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues said “whole genome sequencing” — which provides a unique blueprint of each person’s DNA — holds great promise for advancing medical research and clinical care.

But the Commission said genetic data can also be misused and need to be adequately protected.

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