Patrick Skahill


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 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:

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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.

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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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The number of farms in Connecticut is growing. That's according to a new census report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In 2012, nearly 6,000 farms were operating in Connecticut -- that's up from about 4,900 just five years ago.

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Oyster theft isn't new. "It's probably been a problem since colonial days," said George Krivda with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, "but now is when we're dealing with it." 

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As United Illuminating continues revisions on its ambitious tree-cutting plan, a group of scientists at UConn is studying why trees fail, and how they can be made stronger.

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Drug companies like operating in the shadows, but a recent move by Johnson and Johnson may change all that. In collaboration with Yale University's Open Data Access Project (YODA), the pharmaceutical giant will now share its clinical trial data with researchers. 

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A new bill is proposing a major overhaul to the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, which handles waste for more than 50 towns.

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A recent move by 17 foundations to stop investing in fossil fuels has added to a growing debate about "green portfolios."

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A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine says that hospital stays may be getting safer, at least if you're admitted for a heart condition. 

Researchers used medical record data for more than 61,000 patients from 2005 to 2011. They studied more than 20 common problems patients typically encounter after admission to a hospital -- things like drug reactions, bed sores, and infection.

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If you've looked out on the Connecticut River this winter, you may have seen something a bit unexpected: a Coast Guard cutter. It's called the USCG Bollard, and it's been on the river for weeks, dutifully breaking up ice.

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Lawmakers have drafted legislation to address sexual assault on college campuses. It will be the first bill heard by the Higher Education Committee when it convenes next month.

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According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, PURA will now delay their decision on United Illuminating's ambitious tree-cutting plan past Wednesday, January 29, due to a public hearing request from UI to discuss "technical issues."

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If you think Connecticut's roughly 270,000 acres of forests and parks are protected forever, you're wrong. That's according to a new report from Connecticut's Council on Environmental Quality claiming state conservation lands aren't always preserved forever.

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Robert Klee, a lawyer who served as chief of staff to Dan Esty, will take over as the new commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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Patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder usually have two treatment options: medication or counseling. But new research underway at Hartford Hospital is looking to add a third choice -- magnets.