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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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.

e-MagazineArt / FLICKR

A national consortium of scientists has sequenced the genome of a common type of lung cancer. The work suggests that the key to treating cancer may lie in understanding its genes.

Washington University helped lead the study, which mapped and analyzed genetic mutations in squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.

The director of Wash U’s Genome Center, Richard Wilson, says the study identified mutations in lung tumors that are also found in other types of cancer.

He says the work suggests the genetics of cancer are more important than where it first appears in the body.

Richard Freese
Veronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

When the US Supreme Court upheld the federal health care law in June, it ruled that states couldn’t be penalized for failing to expand their Medicaid programs.

Soil may be a source of antibiotic resistance

Aug 31, 2012

Soil bacteria may be helping to make disease-causing bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

That’s according to a new study out of Washington University.

Lead researcher, microbiologist Gautam Dantas, says he and his colleagues found seven genes in farmland soil bacteria that are identical to genes in human pathogens – and that provide resistance to a wide range of antibiotics.

Chris Murphy / Flickr

A federal appeals court has overturned a federal rule that would have reduced air pollution from power plants and kept it from drifting across state lines.

In a 2-to-1 decision, the panel of judges said the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its regulatory authority when it approved the Cross-State Air Pollution rule last summer.

Sierra Club Missouri Chapter Director John Hickey says the rule would have reduced emissions of soot, sulfur dioxide, and other pollutants that drift from state to state.

Chris Murphy / Flickr

A federal appeals court has vacated an EPA rule that would have limited the amount of power plant pollution that drifts across state lines.

wwarby / Flickr

Unlike their cold-weather relatives, Humboldt penguins live only in South America, along the rocky Pacific coast of Chile and Peru. The Saint Louis Zoo’s Michael Macek has been monitoring the penguins there, tracking their health and numbers.

jetsandzeppelins / Flickr

According to a new study, the Midwest is getting hotter. With this summer's record-breaking temperatures, that probably doesn't sound like news.

But a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows our hot weather isn't an anomaly - things have been heating up across the Midwest for the past six decades.

The study found that on average, some Midwestern cities like St. Louis now have twice the number of very hot, humid, summer days as it did in the 1940s. Nighttime temperatures are also on the rise, and heat waves of three or more days are becoming more common.

Scott Suppelsa

Pediatric leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. There are about 3,000 new cases in the United States every year, typically in children between the ages of four and six.

With treatment, about three-quarters of affected children are able to beat the disease.

But for those with what’s known as “high risk” leukemia, the odds of survival are much worse.

A new report by the Missouri Foundation for Health estimates that about two-thirds of Missouri’s more than 800,000 uninsured could get health insurance under the federal health care law. The county level data suggest that rural counties will benefit the most.

gestation crates
Wikimedia Commons

The fast food chain Hardee’s says it will stop buying pork from suppliers who use gestation crates – the cramped metal cages where many industrial pork producers house pregnant sows for most of their adult lives.

missouri capitol
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Some of Missouri's largest insurance companies will be refunding consumers almost $61 million this month under a provision of the federal healthcare law. Insurers who failed to spend at least 80 percent of premium-dollars on medical care and quality improvement have to repay the difference to consumers.

As part yesterday's Supreme Court decision on Obama's health care law, the justices ruled the federal government can't revoke states' Medicaid funding for failing to comply with the law's required Medicaid  expansion. And as Véronique LaCapra reports, that could leave some Missourians without access to health insurance.

Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture

The bacterium Enterococcus faecalis, which lives in the human gut, is just one type of microbe that was studied as part of the Human Microbiome Project funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Researchers have completed the first comprehensive census of the human “microbiome” — the trillions of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that live in and on our bodies.

Phone line could play role in cancer prevention

Jun 8, 2012

A new study out of Washington University has found that the 2-1-1 phone information system could be an effective tool to fight cancer in low-income and minority communities.

Across the U.S., people can call 2-1-1 to get help with housing, food, and other social service needs.

lake of the ozarks
bsabarnowl / flickr

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved Ameren Missouri's plan to reduce the land it owns and manages along the shore of the Lake of the Ozarks.

A new study out of Washington University suggests that women who use short-term birth-control methods like the pill are 20 times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than those who use longer-term options like intrauterine devices or implants.

A new report from the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council shows that the frequency of severe storms across the Midwest has doubled over the past 50 years.

The report analyzed precipitation data from more than 200 weather stations in eight Midwestern states.

A new report by the advocacy group American Rivers says when it comes to managing flooding along the Missouri River, the US Army Corps of Engineers should rely on floodplains and wetlands, not levees and dams. But the Corps doesn't see flood management as an "either/or" proposition.

Warming temperatures may have you wanting to spend more time outdoors. But warm weather can mean more unhealthy air.

Véronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

Biologist Edward O. Wilson is an emeritus University Research Professor at Harvard. Through his life-long research on the behavior of ants, he has transformed the disciplines of ecology and evolution, developing new theories and pioneering the field of sociobiology.

Starting on Thursday, the University of Missouri-St. Louis is hosting a conference on “consilience.”

ameren logo
forwardstl / flickr

Ameren shareholders have voted against three proposals that sought to push the company to do more to address environmental risks from its coal-fired power plants.


Ameren shareholders have voted against three proposals that sought to push the company to do more to address environmental risks from its coal-fired power plants.

This year's mild winter and early spring has plants flowering and putting out leaves about three weeks sooner than usual. Some insects are out early too, but that may not mean it's time to stock up on extra bug spray.

Christine Karim / Creative Commons

A coalition of environmental groups has filed two lawsuits against the EPA, seeking to limit nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River Basin and the Gulf of Mexico.

jungmoon / Flickr

Insect scientists say biotech corn is losing its ability to fend off a major insect pest known as the corn rootworm.  The scientists say continued widespread use of genetically-modified corn will only make the problem worse.

Photo by Ken Light

Michael Pollan considers himself a writer, a professor and eater.  

File photo / KBIA

Ameren Missouri is pledging to increase its energy efficiency programs starting in 2013.  If the plan is approved, it would allow Ameren to provide 145 million dollars in energy efficiency rebates over three years – a cost that would be passed on to consumers.