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Rebecca Hersher

Rebecca Hersher is a reporter on NPR's Science Desk, where she reports on outbreaks, natural disasters, and environmental and health research. Since coming to NPR in 2011, she has covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, embedded with the Afghan army after the American combat mission ended, and reported on floods and hurricanes in the U.S. She's also reported on research about puppies. Before her work on the Science Desk, she was a producer for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered in Los Angeles.

Hersher was part of the NPR team that won a Peabody award for coverage of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and produced a story from Liberia that won an Edward R. Murrow award for use of sound. She was a finalist for the 2017 Daniel Schorr prize; a 2017 Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting fellow, reporting on sanitation in Haiti; and a 2015 NPR Above the Fray fellow, investigating the causes of the suicide epidemic in Greenland.

Prior to working at NPR, Hersher reported on biomedical research and pharmaceutical news for Nature Medicine.

Carmen Lugo has lived in Puerto Rico her whole life, and her whole life she has feared the water that comes out of her tap.

"When I was a child, we used filters," she says, leaning on the doorjamb with her 11-year-old in front of her and two teenage sons sleepy-eyed behind her on a morning in July.

"The water here," she says, pausing as she purses her lips in a tight smile. She chooses her words carefully. "We want to be in good health," she finally says. "My husband, he buys water from the Supermax," referring to a local grocery store.

Lawanda Jones' house near Myrtle Beach, S.C., is next to a large, lovely tree. Earlier this week, as Jones listened to the evacuation orders and hurricane warnings piling up, she looked at that tree and thought: what if it falls?

On Friday afternoon, Jones stood outside Conway High School, a Red Cross shelter and, on drier days, home of the Tigers. She and her family have been staying at the shelter since Tuesday and, although it's crowded and difficult to sleep among strangers, she said she's glad she evacuated early.

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Hurricane Florence is moving relentlessly toward the Southeastern U.S. It's a large, powerful cyclone that will likely bring storm surge and high winds to coastal communities.

But climate scientists say one of the biggest threats posed by Florence is rain.

The Houston Ship Channel has the rhythm of an ant colony. Barges and oil tankers lumber through the silty water; tangles of exposed pipe rise hundreds of feet above a sea of white tanks. Residents of the coastal plain between Houston and Galveston will tell you the plain is flatter than a regulation pool table. But if you can get up high enough you'll see trains and ships and trucks moving ceaselessly from dock to dock, terminal to terminal.

The Houston Ship Channel has the rhythm of an ant colony. Barges and oil tankers lumber through the silty water, tangles of exposed pipe rise hundreds of feet above a sea of white tanks. Residents of the coastal plain between Houston and Galveston will tell you the plain is flatter than a regulation pool table. But if you can get up high enough you'll see trains and ships and trucks moving ceaselessly from dock to dock, terminal to terminal.

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Perhaps you've heard that classic anecdote about Richard Feynman, the Nobel-winning theoretical physicist, who famously spent hours with a buddy puzzling over why uncooked spaghetti always breaks into more than two pieces.

When Star Ames was a child there was a flood. The streets were like rivers and the houses like islands. It was 1960 and the village of Odanah, Wis. was up to its neck.

The town had been built on the banks of the Bad River, in the floodplain. "I remember watching the river come up," Ames says. "Every place we thought was high enough, the water kept coming up."

Each year, Dylan Jennings harvests wild rice from the lakes and rivers near his home in northern Wisconsin. He and a partner use a canoe, nosing carefully through rice beds and knocking rice kernels into the boat's hull using special sticks.

"It's a really long process," he says. "It starts with identifying the area where you are going to go ricing and knowing those areas in a very intimate way."

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

Social media companies have not had a good week in the stock market.

Nuclear power plants in Europe have been forced to cut back electricity production because of warmer-than-usual seawater.

Plants in Finland, Sweden and Germany have been affected by a heat wave that has broken records in Scandinavia and the British Isles and exacerbated deadly wildfires along the Mediterranean.

The dense network of cables that make up the Internet is likely to be inundated with saltwater as sea levels rise, a new analysis suggests, putting thousands of miles of critical infrastructure along U.S. coastlines underwater in the next 15 years.

After months spent staggering beneath the weight of roughly a dozen official ethics probes, mounting bipartisan criticism and one used mattress, Scott Pruitt decided to

Updated at 6:01 p.m. ET

Scott Pruitt will no longer lead the Environmental Protection Agency, President Trump announced Thursday afternoon via Twitter.

"I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt," Trump tweeted. "Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this," Trump also wrote.

The total number of people apprehended for illegally crossing the southern U.S. border has been steadily falling for almost two decades. It's a long-term trend that sociologists, economists and federal officials have been tracking for years.

The world has one more extinct ape to mourn.

In a study published Thursday, scientists describe a new species of gibbon, long-extinct, that lived in China as recently as 2,200 years ago. Junzi imperialis is named for its imperial living situation, as the pet of a grandmother of China's first emperor.

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to block an Obama-era proposal and effectively shield companies from scrutiny about how they prevent and respond to chemical disasters. At a hearing Thursday, agency officials got an earful from dozens of people who live and work near refineries and chemical facilities across the country.

There's more rain falling on some parts of the U.S. than there used to be, and many towns just aren't ready for the flooding that follows.

Ellicott City, Md., is one such community. Nestled in a valley west of Baltimore, the town was founded in 1772, and some Revolutionary War-era buildings still house businesses along the narrow main street in historic downtown. It also sits at the confluence of three streams.

Hurricanes are moving more slowly over both land and water, and that's bad news for communities in their path.

In the past 70 years, tropical cyclones around the world have slowed down 10 percent, and in some regions of the world, the change has been even more significant, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

That means storms are spending more time hanging out, battering buildings with wind and dropping more rain.

On Aug. 24, 1952, the Silook and Oozevaseuk families of Gambell, Alaska, welcomed a baby girl into the world and introduced her to the island that had been their home for centuries. Gambell is at the western edge of St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. When the weather is clear, you can see Siberia in the distance.

Floods on the Mississippi River are getting more frequent and more severe. But scientists warn that the infrastructure meant to protect towns and farms against flood waters is making the problem worse.

A series of analyses have helped confirm what engineers have posited for more than a century: that earthen levees built along the river are increasing flood risk for everyone, and especially hurting those who live across from them.

Scientists are one step closer to understanding how modern birds evolved to have beaks, and the answer starts millions of years ago with some of the sexiest dinosaurs.

Each night, all over the ocean, swarms of animals wriggle and kick their way from deep below the waves to feed at the surface. Each creature is tiny — less than a centimeter long, and sometimes much smaller — and there are trillions of them.

New research suggests this nightly migration might be helping mix the ocean on a grand scale, sending columns of water down as the animals swim up. It's a radical idea, and one that is just starting to take hold among scientists who study the oceans and who have long assumed that wind and waves, not animals, are the drivers of ocean-mixing.

The Environmental Protection Agency has removed a toxic waste site flooded by Hurricane Harvey from a special list of contaminated sites that require the personal attention of the agency's leader, because it says there's been significant progress on a cleanup plan.

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The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is fending off multiple accusations that he misused taxpayer funds and maintained improper ties to companies regulated by the EPA.

Each spring in the global north, brown bears around the world emerge from their dens with new cubs. The cubs come into the world hapless and fragile. Their fathers are long gone; bear mothers must find a way to raise the cubs while surviving themselves.

Female bears generally spend either 1.5 or 2.5 years with their young. In many ways, the pressures of bear life favor the shorter option — a mother with cubs cannot mate, so the more time she spends with each litter, the fewer offspring she'll have over her lifetime.

President Trump's nominee for deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, has spent much of his career working for less oversight from the agency.

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