WNPR

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. 

He writes about science for The Beaker. 

Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. 

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.

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

Heather Brandon / WNPR

Representatives from the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA), a trash agency responsible for waste management in more than 50 Connecticut municipalities, said they're facing a $7.6 million budget gap for the next three fiscal years. The gap was revealed to members of a state task force on Tuesday. The reveal comes on the heels of a state-sponsored audit of CRRA released earlier this month that projects a much bigger shortfall: around $23 million. 

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

The town of Tolland said two of its schools will switch to geothermal technology in the coming months. According to the Connecticut Geothermal Association, that project will join a list of nearly 60 active projects in Connecticut.

One of those projects is in South Windham, at Horizons, a camp for developmentally disabled children and adults. I met up with Guy Wanegar, President of the Connecticut Geothermal Association, as a crew dug a hole for geothermal piping outside a new dining hall. The ground was muddy, and gallons of water spewed up as the drill worked its way vertically through hundreds of feet of dirt and bedrock.

Solar Dynamics Observatory / NASA

It started several months ago -- sunspots flickered, more and more solar flares arched out into space, and a ripple of changing current made its way past Pluto to the outer reaches of our solar system.

The sun was flipping its magnetic polarity -- an event that happens every 11 years. 

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

In October, seven current and former UConn students took federal action against the University of Connecticut, saying the school failed to adequately respond to claims of sexual assault. Lawmakers heard testimony from four women on Wednesday as part of a broader effort to address sexual assaults on college campuses across Connecticut. 

The Connecticut Mirror

Connecticut is the only state that has so far enrolled more people in private insurance plans than Medicaid since open enrollment began on October 1. Access Health CT has signed up about 6,000 people in private plans, and about 4,700 in government-funded Medicaid coverage, according to the Associated Press.

Flickr Creative Commons, angeloangelo

As concerns over the security of America's electrical infrastructure continue to grow, Connecticut Light & Power and the United Illuminating Company said they will both take part in a multi-national security exercise this week. The drill will be run by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (also known as NERC) and will include Homeland Security, FBI officials, and hundreds of utilities. 

Wikimedia Commons

A new species of 17-year cicada has been discovered in Connecticut. According to a report in The Hartford Courant, credit for the discovery goes to Chris Maier of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

The bug, dubbed magicicada septendecula, was found in North Branford. It's smaller than Connecticut's other 17-year cicada species, magicicada septendecim, which gained fame this summer for its emergence (or lack of emergence) around the state.

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

What can religion say about climate change? It turns out a lot. Take for example, the Old Testament story of Noah and the flood. You remember how it goes: people behaving badly, Noah building an ark, God sending a flood, and, eventually, a Rainbow covenant formed between God and man. Except, said Terri Eickel, the covenant was larger than that. 

NASA/Bill Ingalls

Rick Mastracchio completed his fourth successful trip into space yesterday. He launched aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket, and was carrying some special cargo -- geocaching tags from the Waterbury Police Activity League and the 2014 Winter Olympic torch.

National Cancer Institute

Students at the Yale School of Medicine spent time last week delivering bad news to patients. Their task was grim: one student told a woman she had breast cancer while another broke the news to a professional athlete that he blew out his knee and would never play football again.

Except there was one catch. The patients were actors, responding in real time to medical students as part of a "bad news" seminar aimed at teaching the skills of patient-centered interviewing

Lara Maltz Rozza

Hartford broke ground on a new skate park this week. Skaters have dubbed it "Heaven" and say it will be a space for skaters, bikers, and artists.

The park is located just above the I-84 tunnel a few blocks from the XL Center. For years it's been an informal hangout spot for skaters and artists. And now, Hartford is ready to formalize "Heaven" as the city's first official skate park.

Flickr Creative Commons, jerry mercier

If you're driving through Connecticut, you've probably noticed a lot of colors on your commute. Fall foliage has been on full display these last few weeks, with reds, oranges, and yellows covering trees all over New England. You may even have spent your weekend raking leaves up. But have you ever stopped to consider why leaves change color? Or how they fall off trees? 

Flickr Creative Commons, rfranklinaz

Update 2:37 pm: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) informed Access Health CT that the outage has been addressed and the system is again operating normally.

1:14 pm: The federal data hub that verifies information for Connecticut residents seeking health care coverage crashed for the second time this week. That meant state customers who were enrolling for health coverage couldn't complete the process. 

Demolition has begun at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman killed 20 students and six adults last December. Bricks will be pulverized, steel melted down and a new school built at the same location.

Allison Hornak attended Sandy Hook Elementary School as a kid. After college, she returned home to Newtown, Conn., and opened an art gallery that's within walking distance of where the mass killing took place.

Hornak says she has a lot of fond memories of Sandy Hook — like a teacher who let her chew gum in class, and the pathways through the school.

Flickr Creative Commons, angeloangelo

The electrical grid has been described as the glass jaw of American industry. According to some reports, we’re just one solar flare or cyber-attack away from massive, cascading power failures. This has happened before. In 2012, a cascading power failure in India plunged around 680 million into darkness. And in 2011, some Connecticut residents found themselves without power for more than a week thanks to a freak October snowstorm. We’ll chat with energy experts about how to strengthen the electrical grid.

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