Shahla Farzan

Shahla Farzan is a general assignment reporter and weekend newscaster 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. 

Just a few months ago, LuAnn Cooper and her client Margie went on lots of outings together — exercising at the gym, grocery shopping, getting ice cream. 

But the pandemic put a stop to those trips.

Margie, who has a developmental disability, hasn’t been able to leave her home in Washington, Missouri, since March. 

NASA is set to launch its first space mission from American soil in nearly a decade — with an astronaut from St. Louis County aboard.

St. Ann native Bob Behnken is part of a two-person crew heading to the International Space Station on the Crew Dragon spacecraft, a joint venture between NASA and the commercial aerospace company SpaceX. 

The historic mission, scheduled to launch Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is also the first time a commercially built U.S. rocket and spacecraft will carry humans to the space station.

Before she was the interim minister at the Central Christian Church of Austin, Janet Maykus was a chaplain in health care settings, a job that required training in infectious disease control. So when she heard reports of the coronavirus spreading in some U.S. communities, she knew it was time to overhaul religious practices at her church.

Elsie McGrath is an unlikely renegade.

For much of her life, the 81-year-old tried to avoid confrontation and follow the rules.

But that changed in 2007, when she became an ordained priest — and in doing so, broke one of the most fundamental rules in Roman Catholicism.

"This was definitely not part of the plan," McGrath said, of her ordination. "This was what the spirit within me was leading me to."

She was excommunicated along with fellow priest Rose Marie Hudson and Bishop Patricia Fresen, who ordained the two at a synagogue in St. Louis.

Floodwaters carved a path of devastation through the Midwest this year — and carried hundreds of storage tanks downstream to Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is collecting these orphaned containers, which range in size from small buckets to 500,000-gallon tanks. Many contain hazardous materials, including diesel fuel, pesticides and ammonia gas.

Most of the containers have washed up along the banks of the Missouri River in the northwest corner of the state, said DNR environmental scientist Stephen McLane.

When Lisa and Dan Macheca bought a century-old Methodist church in St. Louis back in 2004, they didn't think much about the cost of heating the place.

Then the first heating bill arrived: $5,000 for a single month.

"I felt like crying," Lisa Macheca said. "Like, 'Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into?' "

Destini Hutson spent much of her childhood picturing what life would be like when her dad came home.

Over time, her plans turned to the practical: teach him how to use an iPhone, help him find a job, go to Chick-fil-A together.

“‘It’s a lot that you’re going to have to learn,’” Hutson told her dad, Donald, who went to prison in 1997 when she was still a baby.

Those plans came to a halt last September, when Donald Hutson died of a drug overdose at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific. He’s one of more than 430 inmates who have overdosed in state prisons since May 2017, according to internal data from the Missouri Department of Corrections. While there are many ways drugs are smuggled into prisons, DOC employees say internal corruption is a key part of the problem.

A common chemical used to kill bacteria is making them more capable of surviving antibiotics.

According to new research from Washington University, triclosan has a protective effect on strains of E. coli and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. The chemical — which is added to hundreds of consumer products — also interferes with the antibiotic treatment of urinary-tract infections in mice.

For more than 80 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has identified newborns as underweight if they weigh less than 5 and a half pounds.

But some researchers argue this one-size-fits-all approach ignores the fact that infants vary naturally in size based on their genes and environment.

St. Louis University researchers compared birth weights of siblings and found younger siblings who weighed at least a pound less than their older sibling at birth, were twice as likely to die in the first month of life.