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 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.

USFWS Headquarters / Creative Commons

The Northern Long-eared bat is now a protected animal under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the move on Wednesday, saying the designation will come with a special interim rule aimed at relieving regulatory burdens on local land owners and government agencies in the bat's range.

Ryan King / WNPR

It all starts with a sugar bush. While that sounds like something out of the board game Candy Land, it's actually another name for a stand of sugar maples -- one of the trees that gives us maple syrup.

lolo-38 / Creative Commons

You may leave the radio or the TV on for your kitty when you head off to work, but new research is saying that might not be the best idea. Instead, why not try out a few of these songs, composed specifically for your cat master?

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Residents on Connecticut's coast continue to underestimate the economic and physical dangers posed by severe weather, according to a new survey out of Yale.

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A high school science club wants Connecticut lawmakers to name titanium as the state’s official element.

dailyjoe / Creative Commons

Ask an environmental regulator what they do -- and they're likely to say this: making sure people don't break the law and don't pollute. But as a WNPR investigation found out, getting people to obey environmental rules can be tricky.

c-hit.org

New research out of Yale says doctors should accept more types of kidneys for organ transplant. The study comes at a time when there's a growing need for kidneys.

Flickr Creative Commons / marc falardeau

Should employers be able to get access to a worker's personal email or their social media account? That's the question at the center of a legislative proposal being discussed in Hartford, which begs the bigger question: do any employers actually do this? 

The bill would make it illegal for employers to force workers or job applicants to share passwords to their personal online accounts

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A group representing automotive dealers in Connecticut said it will continue to oppose Tesla selling its cars directly to customers, but if the legislature does decide to move forward with a bill allowing direct sales, car dealers are calling for a two year moratorium on it.

NASA Goddard Photo and Video / Flickr Creative Commons

High levels of carbon dioxide are putting creatures in Long Island Sound at risk. That's the finding of a new study examining the economic impact of climate change on our shoreline.

Flickr Creative Commons / Don McCullough

Once again, state lawmakers are considering if police should be allowed to conduct surveillance using remote controlled aerial vehicles, commonly known as "drones."

The law would require police to register drones and create publicly-available information about their use. It would also, in some cases, call for them to get a warrant before using a drone. 

Ryan King / WNPR

Whether growing blood vessels for human transplant or looking out into the cosmos through precision telescopes, so much of what happens in science relies on glass.

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The head of a state-funded watchdog agency is wondering what proposed budget cuts could mean for the future of environmental oversight in Connecticut. In question is the future of the Council on Environmental Quality, which for more than 40 years, has monitored everything from air to wildlife conditions in the state.

It's a relatively small line item in the budget: about $180,000. That money funds two full-time paid positions at the CEQ. There's also a nine-member board that collects no salary.

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Temperatures have plummeted in Connecticut, with the wind chill nearly 20 degrees below zero. But how is wind chill actually calculated? To answer that question, I learned about the number's colorful -- and changing -- history.

It was the 1940s. Two scientists were in the Antarctic; it was windy -- and they decided to try an experiment.

Hazel Motes / Creative Commons

State environmental officials are setting out their legislative priorities for 2015, and there's at least one unexpected issue that's being addressed: jet packs.

The legislative proposals are wide-ranging, covering everything from stricter labeling requirements on farm products made in Connecticut to a program requiring that tire companies assume more responsibility for disposing of their products after consumer use.

Then there are water jet packs. "It's basically a James Bond-style jet pack that uses the thrust of a personal watercraft to send the rider 20 or 30 feet in the air," said Rob Klee, head of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Olivia Drake / Wesleyan University

You may not think there are a lot of stellar wonders visible from Middletown, but astronomer and professor Wesleyan Univeresity Meredith Hughes disagrees.

"It's actually pretty amazing that in the middle of a city, we can see a ton of beautiful things in the night sky," Hughes said. Her observatory, located on a hill at Wesleyan, is now opening its telescope to the public every Wednesday night.

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Imagine Connecticut: mountains as high and as sharp as the Himalayas, volcanic activity, and ancient earthquakes shaking the ground -- much more powerful than those we feel today. To understand how this happened, we need to dial the clock back just a little bit... about 300 million years.

That's when the supercontinent of Pangea was taking shape, and an ancient landmass housing modern-day Africa and South America had slammed into Connecticut's coast. 

Flickr Creative Commons, Pink Sherbet Photography

Let's take a frozen cheese pizza. We'll add a little pepperoni to it -- and ship it off to a supermarket. Now, the question: who makes sure that pizza is safe to eat?

"As soon as you add the pepperoni, you introduce the Department of Agriculture," said reporter Wil Hylton. "Otherwise it will be under Health and Human Services and the FDA."

Flickr Creative Commons / DNA Art Online

Precision medicine includes all the stuff that makes you, you -- your DNA, the stuff inside your gut, your family history -- into medical care.

Now, President Barack Obama wants to funnel $215 million into a "Precision Medicine Initiative," with the hope of one day incorporating things like a person’s genome into everyday medical treatment. 

ramseybuckeye / Flickr Creative Commons

The state is proposing changes to how towns and cities deal with storm water that runs into rivers and streams. The rules would change requirements for some towns around things like street sweeping and catch basin cleanups.

Connecticut Innocence Project

The state of Connecticut has awarded $6 million to a man who was wrongfully imprisoned. Kenneth Ireland served more than two decades in prison --- for a rape and murder that he did not commit.

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Yale researchers have developed a new way to biologically contain genetically modified organisms, a finding that could have future impacts in agriculture and medicine.

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When Art Linares wanted to buy a Tesla, it wasn't as easy as walking into a store and taking a test drive. Instead, he had to go to New York -- because in Connecticut, it's illegal for a car manufacturer to sell directly to a customer.

"It prevents companies like Mercedes and BMW from creating their own stores, so they have to go through a dealership," said Linares, who's no ordinary customer -- he's a state senator for the 33rd District.

Linares wants to change those dealership laws for at least for one company, Tesla, which has a world-wide policy of selling directly to customers. "What we're trying to do here in Connecticut is make an exemption for Tesla to be able to open up their own stores and sell their cars," he said.

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Plum Island, an 840-acre land mass in Long Island Sound, is becoming a focal point for environmentalists. That's because of government plans to sell the island to fund the construction of a new USDA animal-testing center. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

When it comes to space, there’s a lot to be excited about. Telescopes are scanning the farthest reaches of our galaxy and we’re learning more than ever before about the origins of planets.

Kaiser Health News

Open enrollment for the second year of the Affordable Care Act ends in one month, but how many people have signed up so far? 

Weston Observatory / Twitter

Have you been feeling the earth move?

In what's becoming a daily event, a minor earthquake has shaken parts of eastern Connecticut.

Guido Gerding / Wikimedia Commons

Back in 2011, a few things changed for PURA, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. Its staff was cut, and it developed a closer relationship with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Some of PURA's budget and its hiring authority shifted over to DEEP, and the move changed the way the board does its main job: reviewing the performance of power companies.

Mara Lavitt / WNPR

A member of the Kennedy family will now be heading up the state's environment committee. In the upcoming legislative session, Ted Kennedy, Jr., a newly-elected Senator from Branford, said he'll be tackling everything from pesticide use to pollution in Long Island Sound.

Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology / Creative Commons

The reform is the first of its kind in the nation, and it works like this: every time police fire a Taser, they'll have to file a "use of force report."

"It's a very thorough report," said David McGuire with the ACLU of Connecticut. "It goes through the person's race, their age, their height, their weight; how the Taser was used; what mode it was used in; how many times it was fired; whether the person had an injury; whether medical assistance was provided."

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