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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Native Plants
11:45 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Woodbury Couple Uses Native Plants To Rebuild Forests, Backyards

Lisa and Kyle Turoczi are co-owners of Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery in Woodbury. Lisa is a landscape architect. Kyle is a soil scientist. (Their four dogs love the property.)
Patrick Skahill / WNPR

When you buy plants at a big box store, a lot of the plants aren't from Connecticut. Some are even invasive. Lisa and Kyle Turoczi are working to change that. As co-owners of Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery in Woodbury, they've even been contracted to rebuild a forest. 

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Fracking
11:40 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Connecticut's Complicated Relationship With Natural Gas

A fracking site in Warren Center, Pennsylvania.
Credit Fracking Lawyer / Creative Commons

More than half of Americans surveyed by a new Yale study reported knowing little to nothing about hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking." Minimal shale deposits mean fracking wells aren't likely to come to Connecticut, but the state is facing another concern: what to do with fracking waste.

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Why Not Just Charge It?
3:42 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

New Round of Incentives Aims to Bring More Electric Vehicle Charging Stations to Connecticut

Governor Dannel Malloy addresses reporters outside the 2013 Connecticut International Auto Show in Hartford. He announced a new round of incentives for building additional electric vehicle charging stations around the state.
Credit Patrick Skahill / WNPR

When you drive an electric car, you have to charge it, but sometimes finding those charging stations can be hard. Drivers call that "range anxiety" and it's stopped some consumers from going electric. Now, the state is looking to change that. Earlier this month, it announced more than $135,000 in grants to assist in the construction of 56 new, publicly available charging stations. 

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Juvenile Law
4:45 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Connecticut Panel Resurrecting Juvenile Sentencing Bill

The proposal would loosen restrictions on parole hearings for criminals sentenced for crimes committed before they were 18. It would also eliminate life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / seantoyer

A state commission discussed legislation today that could give juvenile offenders an earlier opportunity for parole. The proposal would also eliminate life sentences without parole for inmates convicted of a crime committed when they were under the age of 18.

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Call Bruce Willis
11:49 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Deflecting An Asteroid, With Paintballs

This artist's conception shows how families of asteroids are created. Over the history of our solar system, catastrophic collisions between asteroids located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter have formed families of asteroids in similar orbits.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

When you think about ways to deflect an asteroid, your mind probably immediately jumps to heavy artillery. Things like lasers. Or Bruce Willis-style nuclear bombs. But Sung Wook Paek is working on a much lower-key approach to preventing Armageddon: paintballs.  

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Environment
9:29 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

CRRA Claims Multimillion-Dollar Deficit

CRRA said it's facing a revenue gap of $7.6 million over the next three years, but a state audit said that number was a lot higher - 23 million. CRRA management met with state officials on Tuesday to discuss the agency's plans moving forward.
Credit 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. 

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Drillin' Holes
11:30 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Geothermal Projects Expand Across Connecticut

Workers drill a hole into the ground in advance of installing geothermal piping. Geothermal technology uses ambient ground temperatures to heat and cool buildings.
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.

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Polarity Fields
5:36 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Sun's Magnetic Field Poised to Flip

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a solar flare in the early hours of Nov. 10, 2013. The northern hemisphere has already changed polarity. Scientists say the southern could flip in the coming days.
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. 

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Assault on Campus
5:28 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Lawmakers Hear Testimony on UConn Sexual Assaults

Legislators heard testimony from four UConn women on Wednesday about sexual violence on college campuses.
Credit 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. 

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Health Care
10:34 am
Wed November 13, 2013

More People Enroll in Private Insurance Than in Medicaid in Connecticut

Connecticut is the only state in the country to have enrolled more people in private insurance than Medicaid. Above is a picture of the Access Health CT Enrollment Center in New Britain.
Credit CT 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.

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Pull The Plug
3:11 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Drill Simulates Crippling Blow to Power Grid

Connecticut Light and Power will participate in a two-day drill simulating attacks on the power grid. The exercise is being staged by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and will include hundreds of utilities from across North America.
Credit 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. 

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Buggin'
7:00 am
Tue November 12, 2013

New Species of 17-Year Cicada Discovered in Connecticut

A new species of 17-year cicada, dubbed "magicicada septendecula" was discovered in North Branford this summer.
Credit 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.

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Environment
1:35 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Faith Drives Discussion of Environment in Day-Long Summit

Participants in a "Climate Stewardship Summit" wave flags during an interfaith worship service at Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford.
Credit 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. 

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Kick The Tires, Light The Fires
1:54 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Waterbury Native Carries Olympic Torch Into Space

The Soyuz TMA-11M rocket is launched with Expedition 38 Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos, Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA and Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
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.

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Medical Education
7:51 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Medical Students in New Haven Learn How to Deliver Bad News

Periods of silence between doctor and patient can be a sign of respect and care.
Credit 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

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Downtown 720
11:55 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Hartford Breaks Ground on City's First Skate Park

"Heaven," Hartford's first skate park, is located just blocks from the XL Center.
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.

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Nice Carotenoids, Bro
7:00 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Why Do Leaves Change Color and Fall Off Trees?

New England's red and yellow leaves are a great opportunity to talk about carotenoids, anthocyanins, and the chemistry in your backyard.
Credit 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? 

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Pingless In Hartford
1:14 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Federal Data Hub Vital for Health Care Enrollment Crashes (Again), Then Recovers

The federal data hub used to verify application information for customers searching for health insurance crashed for the second time this week.
Credit 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. 

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Sandy Hook
6:26 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Newtown Residents Demolish A School, And Violent Memories

In June, people gathered in Newtown, Conn., to remember the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 9:55 am

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.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:36 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Why You Should Be Really Afraid of the American Power Grid Going Dark

Credit 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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The Colin McEnroe Show
12:32 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

We're Swimming in Garbage

Michael Paine is the president of Paine's Recycling and Rubbish Removal
Chion Wolf

It's hard to believe that each one of us throws away over seven pounds of trash every day, adding up to about 102 tons over a lifetime. In part, that's because we're used to having our garbage whisked away while we sleep, waking to an empty barrel and a license to buy some more.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
12:03 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

The Nose: Why We Love It When Actors Break Character

Jacques Lamarre talked about Oreos and other foods of obsession on today's Nose.
Credit Chion Wolf

A popular video this week was a highlight reel of Stephen Colbert being unable to stay in character as a pompous, self-pleased right wing blowhard. Instead, Colbert is swept up in the hilarity of the material. One of his adorable tricks is to hide the lower half of his face behind something, allowing us to see only his laughing eyes.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
4:38 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

America's Greatest Living Film Critics Round Up Fall Movies From "Gravity" to "Rush"

Sandra Bullock plays Ryan Stone, an astronaut stuck in space, in Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity."
Credit Warner Bros.

Watching the movie "Captain Phillips" -- in which Tom Hanks plays a commercial freighter captain kidnapped by Somali pirates -- I had a sense of deja vu. Movies like this are becoming a type. They're about the interaction between the U.S. and people who don't like us. In "Zero Dark 30" and "Captain Phillips," a crack Seal team shows up, so much better equipped and trained than our adversaries that the whole thing feels like an overmatch.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
3:25 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

What Urinals, Jock Straps, Flip Shades and Eye Black Teach Us About Baseball

Eddie Plank, Philadelphia
Library of Congress

It's become a cliché to say everything has a story, but in baseball, you could make the argument that everything really does. Even the baseball itself is a story -- one of geography and symbolism -- an almost holy relic of American culture. Sportswriter Steve Rushin tells the story of these objects in his latest book, The 34-Ton Bat.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
9:50 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Here's How to Feel Less Guilty When You Buy Stuff

Credit Flickr Creative Commons, AndrewBrownNWA

Consumer activism is older than the nation. The colonists’ rejection of British imports started a tradition of voting with your knife, fork, teacup and credit card. But it’s complicated! Whole Foods isn’t perfect. And maybe you should reward Wal-Mart for at least trying to improve.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
12:08 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

"The System" of College Football and the NFL's Concussion Crisis

Credit Flickr Creative Commons, janie.hernandez55

At the heart of a new Frontline documentary is a simple question - does playing football expose you to life-threatening brain damage?

It's a question putting America's most popular sport on notice - raising concerns for moms, players' wives, and all of us who love football. Today we talk with Jim Gilmore, producer for Frontline's new documentary "A League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis."

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The Colin McEnroe Show
9:19 am
Mon October 7, 2013

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:

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The Colin McEnroe Show
9:13 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Why Beauty and Politics Are So Hard To Marry

Heath Fahle is the Policy Director for the Yankee Institute for Public Policy
Chion Wolf

As Slate embarks on a quixotic search for the "most beautiful woman in the world," The Nose will examine how feminine beauty plays a role in American politics. Earlier this week, a U.S. Representative from Indiana dissed a CNN anchor saying, "You're beautiful, but you have to be honest."

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The Colin McEnroe Show
6:01 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Naked, Afraid, and At The Mercy of Producers

Connecticut resident Shane Lewis starred in "Naked and Afraid" a reality television show on the Discovery Channel.
Credit Discovery Channel

"Reality TV" is perhaps the biggest misnomer in the entertainment industry today. A better name would probably be "scripted unscripted television." It's not catchy, but at least it's accurate.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
9:54 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Leaning Left

Dr. Brendan Killory is the Director of Epilepsy and Functional Neurosurgery at Hartford Healthcare Medical Group.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

David Wolman visited a Scottish castle designed for left-handed sword fights, and a Paris museum to inspect 19th century brains. He observed chimps with a primatologist who may help unravel the mysteries of handedness. He met with a left-handed satanist, an amputee whose left hand was reattached to his right arm. He's part of a left-handed episode of The Colin McEnroe Show

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