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. 

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?' "

One of the oldest Jewish synagogues in Illinois has closed its doors.

Worshippers from across the country gathered Saturday to deconsecrate the B’nai Sholom temple, which dates back to the late 1860s. The shrinking congregation of about two dozen was forced to close the Quincy synagogue after it couldn’t keep pace with the cost of upkeep.

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.

Some tuberculosis bacteria are harder to kill than others.

Patients infected with certain drug-resistant tuberculosis strains have to take multiple antibiotics continuously for up to two years to treat the infection. Research from Washington University now shows these resistant strains share a single mutation that weakens the host immune response.

David Kovaluk/St. Louis Public Radio

Decriminalizing marijuana doesn’t necessarily lead to an increase in adolescent use, according to research from Washington University.

Marijuana possession is still illegal under decriminalization, but it is treated as a civil offense.

Rather than arresting a person for possessing small amounts of marijuana, an officer issues a citation similar to a traffic ticket. A Wash U analysis of U.S. states that decriminalized the drug found a steep drop in the number of marijuana-related arrests and no increase in reported adolescent drug use.

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.

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.