Patrick Skahill

Reporter

Patrick Skahill is a reporter at WNPR. He covers science with an emphasis on health care and the environment. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009 and won a PRNDI award in 2011. Patrick's reporting has appeared in The New York Times and on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He worked for two years as a print reporter at Stonebridge Press in Massachusetts where he covered crime and education. 

A graduate of Villanova University, Patrick holds a bachelor's degree in history with a concentration in Arab & Islamic Studies and a minor in Classical Studies. He holds a master's degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. He knows way too much about Seinfeld and is a devoted fan of comedian Hannibal Burress.

He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@wnpr.org.

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Minority Business Development
11:45 am
Thu April 17, 2014

$2.4 Million Settlement Hailed as Victory for State Minority-Owned Businesses

Credit Chris Reed/iStock / Thinkstock

A Connecticut construction company will pay $2.4 million in fines for alleged fraud tied to a 2007 road project. The settlement is being hailed as one of the most important decisions in decades for minority business owners.

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Minority Business Development
5:04 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Hartford Contractor Identified in Federal Construction Probe

A Hartford-based firm at the center of a federal probe has been identified.
Credit Kyle May / Creative Commons

Manafort Brothers, Inc. will pay $2.4 million in fines for alleged fraud tied to a 2007 road project. A Hartford-based firm has also now been identified at the center of the federal investigation.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
9:22 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Forty Years, in Search of a Zipless F---

Erica Jong's "Fear of Flying" turned 40 this year. Jong spoke with Colin McEnroe about sex, childbearing, and gender in pop culture.
Credit Michael Childers

Fear of Flying sold 18 million copies worldwide and helped tip feminism into a new focus on fulfilled sexuality. But it also introduced a meme so pervasive that the book's author, Erica Jong, worried the phrase "zipless f--k" would appear on her tombstone.

Jong recenly defined the phrase on NPR's Weekend Edition:

The zipless f---- was more than a f----. It was a platonic ideal. Zipless, because when you came together, zippers fell away like rose petals. Underwear blew off in one breath like dandelion fluff. Tongues intertwined and turned liquid. Your whole soul flowed out through your tongue and into the mouth of your lover.

So how does the world of 2013 look to the writer who gave us Isadora Wing?

We talk with Jong about feminism and gender in American pop culture and politics.

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O Mycelium!
8:43 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Connecticut's Growing Role in Mushroom Cultivation

Logs drilled, plugged with mushroom spawn, and coated with wax.
Patrick Skahill WNPR

Last month, Governor Dannel Malloy announced more than $880,327 in state grants for dozens of Connecticut farms. Among the recipients is a farmer in Higganum looking to fill 1,000 logs with many more mushrooms.

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Former Governor
4:04 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Rowland Pleads Not Guilty; Lawyer "Eager to Go to Trial"

Reporters scrum at the federal courthouse in New Haven on Friday.
Patrick Skahill WNPR

Former Governor John G. Rowland has pleaded not guilty to charges that he broke election laws to pursue roles with two congressional campaigns. A federal judge in New Haven heard the plea Friday and said jury selection is scheduled to begin on June 10.

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Reflecting On Obamacare
3:28 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Head of State Health Insurance Exchange Reflects on Lessons Learned

Kevin Counihan says Access Health CT's two retail storefronts performed well, enrolling over 70 percent of their 14,000 visitors.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Now that the deadline for enrollment in Obamacare has passed, the head of Connecticut's health insurance exchange has said he learned a few lessons.

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Brain Science
10:09 am
Thu April 10, 2014

How Yale Scientists Are Trying to Read Minds

New research is using brain data to reconstruct images of facial memories.
Credit digitalbob8/flickr creative commons

New research out of Yale University is claiming clairvoyance. It's called "neuroimaging," a fancy way of saying scientists are reading your mind.

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Eelevate
12:07 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

How Does a Four-Inch Eel Hurdle a 40-Foot Greenwich Dam?

Joe Cassone stands in front of a 40-foot-tall dam at the base of the Byram River in Greenwich, Conn. Cassone and his volunteers trap eels, releasing them upstream beyond the dam barrier.
Patrick Skahill WNPR

Baby eels are making their annual migration from Long Island Sound to rivers across Connecticut, but along the way, they're encountering one persistent obstacle: river dams. Now, one man in Greenwich is working to make the eels' journey a little easier.

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Healthy Connecticut
10:47 am
Tue April 8, 2014

For Connecticut's DPH, a Big-Picture Snapshot of State Health

Healthy Connecticut 2020 is a statewide health assessment and plan.
Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images News / Thinkstock

A new report called "Healthy Connecticut 2020," from the state Department of Public Health, outlines some of the challenges facing Connecticut health care professionals in the coming decade.

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Hybrids
10:01 am
Fri April 4, 2014

So You Think It's a Wolfdog: What Can DNA Tests Tell Us?

DNA tests can't determine how much "wolf" and how much "dog" is in a hybrid.
wwmike Creative Commons

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has ordered genetic testing for seven hybrid “wolfdogs” found in the state. But if all dogs come from wolves, can a DNA test actually tell us how much “wolf” and how much “dog” is in a hybrid?

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Beluga School
11:33 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Five Alaskan Students Visit Mystic Aquarium to Study Beluga Whales

Tiffany Terry Creative Commons

A group of Native American students from Alaska visited Mystic Aquarium this week as part an academic exchange program studying beluga whales.

The five high schoolers are from Point Lay, an Inupiat Native American village of about 250 people on Alaska's northern coast. They're on the second leg of a two-part academic exchange program. 

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The Grey
6:50 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Mysterious "Wolfdogs" Roaming Southeastern Connecticut Will Be Genetically Tested

An Arctic wolf/Alaskan malamute hybrid from Lobo Park, Antequera.
Creative Commons

State officials said DNA tests will be conducted on seven animals to determine if they are hybrid "wolfdogs." The animals, which are illegal to own in Connecticut, have allegedly threatened several people in the southeastern part of the state.

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Science Education
2:29 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Physics 101: Why Did the Universe Blow Up?

Credit STILLFX/iStock / Thinkstock

Recent observations of so-called "gravitational waves" are providing astronomers with the strongest confirmation yet of cosmic inflation, a theory that says the universe rapidly expanded following the Big Bang.

Why, exactly, did the universe balloon by 100 trillion trillion times, in less than the blink of an eye, 13.8 billion years ago?

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Suing Connecticut
2:56 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Charla Nash Seeks $150 Million in Damages From State

Credit Chris Reed/iStock / Thinkstock

As a matter of law, citizens can't sue the state, in order to protect taxpayer money. That's why there is a Claims Commissioner -- a government appointee tasked with deciding when it's "just and equitable" to waive state immunity.

Last June, the Commissioner decided immunity shouldn't be waived for Charla Nash, who is seeking $150 million in state damages.

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Gone Solar
11:59 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Bridgeport Town Council Gives OK to Solar Project

After the solar project works its way through PURA, construction should begin. Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch estimates the project will bring about $7 million to the city over the next 20 years.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

With a 15-5 vote, Bridgeport's City Council approved a massive solar energy project this week that could bring thousands of solar panels to a former city landfill. Since dumps are no longer allowed in Connecticut, that's left a lot of city leaders wondering what to do with that old space. 

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Medicine
8:07 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Cancer Treatments Could Hurt Your Heart

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for cancer survivors. A relatively new scientific field called "cardio-oncology" is working to change that.

Chemotherapy and radiation may save you from cancer, but they can also do a lot of damage to your heart. 

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Wildlife
5:43 am
Tue March 18, 2014

For Connecticut Deer, Sunday May No Longer Be a Day of Rest

A new proposal is floating the idea of bow hunting on Sundays.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / jonnnnnn

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection hasn't done a statewide estimate for about five years, but at last count, there were around 120,000 deer in Connecticut, with the largest concentrations in Fairfield County.

DEEP officials said the numbers are getting out of control, and voiced their support for a legislative proposal that would expand deer hunting in Connecticut. 

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Tree Trimming
2:10 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Despite PURA Request, Utilities Want to Keep Trimming

A resident holds up a "Trees Please" sign during a public hearing on "enhanced tree-trimming" earlier this month.
Credit Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Last week, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority called for a "voluntary suspension" of so-called "enhanced tree-trimming" around the state. United Illuminating and CL&P quickly filed formal responses and -- surprise -- they both want to keep trimming.

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Chemicals and Kids
4:37 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

A Call for Pesticide-Free Town Greens

A new bill could extend the state's pesticide ban to public parks, playgrounds, and town greens.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / jetsandzeppelins

Connecticut lawmakers are once again eyeing restrictions on pesticides. A new proposal would ban their use at public parks and town greens.

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Tree Trimming
4:30 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

For Tree-Trimming Opponents, a Victory, at Least for Now

A well-loved tree in Hamden, Conn.
Credit Contributed Photo

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is calling for a suspension of "enhanced tree trimming" around the state. It's a decision following months of public outcry.

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Spring Forward
2:47 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Hate Daylight Saving Time? Blame the Man From Filene's Basement

If you think about why you fiddle with your clock twice a year, there are probably two things that spring to mind: farmers and energy savings. Neither are the reasons why we have Daylight Saving Time, so I called Michael Downing, the author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, and asked him why these myths persist.

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Drug Free Schools
11:40 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Around Schools, a Potential Drawback for "Drug Enforcement" Zones

A new proposal aims to draw back the drug enforcement zones around schools from 1500 to 200 feet.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

A new law proposes making drug enforcement zones around schools smaller. It's a measure aimed at giving teeth to a law that's been on the books since 1987.

Currently, if you're convicted of possessing or selling drugs within 1500 feet of a school, you're subject to mandatory jail terms. But in urban areas, especially, that 1500-foot area encompasses vast areas of residential space.

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Resilient Bugs
3:23 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Invasive Bugs in Connecticut May Be Adapting to Extreme Winters

A live hemlock woolly adelgid in the spring. This winter's extreme cold has reduced population numbers statewide, but there is evidence that bugs in the northwest corner of the state are becoming more cold-weather resistant.
Credit Carole Cheah / Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Scientists say this winter's extreme cold is having a limited impact on the state's invasive bugs, and it may even be making one insect stronger. It's called the hemlock woolly adelgid, and it was first identified in Connecticut in 1985.

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Spider Venom
11:43 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Could Tarantula Venom Cure Your Aches and Pains?

Researchers at Yale have identified what they say is a more efficient way to screen thousands of spider neurotoxins against different pain receptors in the body. Above, the Peruvian Green Velvet tarantula.
Credit Yale University

Spider venom could be the next big thing to cure pain, according to research reported in the March issue of Current Biology from Yale University.

There are a lot of different components in venom. And here’s a cheery thought: not every part is out to kill you. 

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Natural Gas
6:23 am
Tue March 4, 2014

A Fracking Conundrum in Connecticut: What to Do With All That Waste

A well head after fracking equipment has been taken off location.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

As America witnesses a record boom in gas production, Connecticut lawmakers are once again trying to figure out what to do with fracking waste.

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Tracing Your Roots
6:39 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Proposal Could Allow Adoptees to Access Birth Certificates

The legislation would allow adopted adults to access their birth certificate.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / Katelyn Kenderdine

A proposal that went before the Public Health Committee could allow adopted children access to their birth certificate if they are age 21 or older.

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Moving Violations
1:28 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

State Police to Motorists: Back Off

Credit John Steven Fernandez / Creative Commons

Connecticut State Police are launching an "educational" campaign targeting tailgating motorists on highways.

The program will run throughout March in the areas of Hartford, New Haven, Meriden, Middletown, and Old Saybrook. That includes interstates 84, 91, 95 and 691 and routes 8,9, and 15. 

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Prison Health Care
3:46 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Connecticut Parolees May Receive Easier Access to Health Care

A new budget proposal could allow certain parolees to sidestep a federal law and access health care in the community.
Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images News / Thinkstock

When Milton Vereen got out of jail, he went to a halfway house. The idea was simple. He'd find a job. He'd look for housing. He'd reintegrate into his New Haven neighborhood and cut his ties to prison.

Except one tie was holding him back: his medical care.

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Chemicals At School
8:45 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Is Connecticut's Pesticide Ban on School Grounds Too Restrictive?

Legislators are considering adding an exception to Connecticut's 2010 ban on pesticide use at schools.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / Valley_Photographs

Legislators are considering a change to a statewide ban of pesticide use on school grounds. It's the first of several proposed challenges to a law that's been in effect since 2010.

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Drones
4:32 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Connecticut Lawmakers Consider Limiting Drone Use By Police

Legislators are considering a proposal to limit drone activity by police.
Credit Baton72/iStock / Thinkstock

State lawmakers heard public testimony Monday afternoon on a bill concerning drones. Next year, the FAA is expected to widely deregulate drone usage, which is leaving many states scrambling to control the technology.

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