Rebecca Hersher | KUOW News and Information

Rebecca Hersher

Rebecca Hersher is a reporter on NPR's Science Desk, where she reports on outbreaks, natural disasters, and environmental and health research. Since coming to NPR in 2011, she has covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, embedded with the Afghan army after the American combat mission ended, and reported on floods and hurricanes in the U.S. She's also reported on research about puppies. Before her work on the Science Desk, she was a producer for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered in Los Angeles.

Hersher was part of the NPR team that won a Peabody award for coverage of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and produced a story from Liberia that won an Edward R. Murrow award for use of sound. She was a finalist for the 2017 Daniel Schorr prize; a 2017 Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting fellow, reporting on sanitation in Haiti; and a 2015 NPR Above the Fray fellow, investigating the causes of the suicide epidemic in Greenland.

Prior to working at NPR, Hersher reported on biomedical research and pharmaceutical news for Nature Medicine.

Updated at 8:40 a.m. ET on Jan. 24

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released crisp, color images of Earth from its newest orbiting weather satellite.

A federal judge has ruled against the proposed acquisition of the health insurance company Humana by its larger rival, Aetna.

The decision is a victory for former President Obama's Justice Department, which sued Aetna last year to block the $34 billion merger, NPR's Yuki Noguchi reported.

The suit alleged that the merger would hurt competition in the health care market, leading to higher prices for consumers and fewer services for Medicare patients.

Seventy-five people have been arrested across Europe for allegedly trafficking stolen art and archaeological relics, according to Spanish police who led the investigation.

Interpol and the U.N.'s culture agency, UNESCO, helped in the investigation, as did the European policing agency Europol and the World Customs Organization, according to a statement by UNESCO.

Multiple destructive storm systems damaged property and killed at least 19 people over the weekend, and continued to batter much of the U.S. with rain, snow and wind today.

All 19 reported deaths were in the South, where apparent tornadoes ripped through towns over the weekend, damaging and destroying buildings in multiple states.

"Trailers are just flat, just laid on top of people," Debbie Van Brackel, a volunteer EMT in Adel, Ga., told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. "You need a bulldozer to pull it off. Trailers are upside down."

The global money service company Western Union has admitted it helped people commit wire fraud, among other criminal violations, and agreed to pay $586 million.

The settlement is the result of an investigation that found Western Union was "willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program," the Justice Department said in a statement.

Later today, six people will enter a dome on a volcano in Hawaii that will be their home for the next eight months, as they simulate a future mission to Mars.

It is the fifth such experiment run by the University of Hawaii and funded by NASA. The latest mission on Mauna Loa, which ended in August 2016, lasted a full year. It is known as the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS.

Noor Salman, the wife of the man who killed 49 people last June at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., has pleaded not guilty to two federal charges.

Salman was arrested earlier this week and charged with providing material support to a terrorist and obstruction of justice for allegedly knowing about Omar Mateen's plan to slaughter people at the nightclub.

It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Mateen was killed by police.

Sotheby's says a 16th century Italian painting sold by the auction house for $842,500 in 2012 is actually a modern fake, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in New York on Tuesday.

A partial repeal of Obamacare could leave 18 million people who have insurance today with no coverage one year later, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The report estimates that 32 million people would lose their insurance over 10 years.

The number of people 60 and older with student loan debt has quadrupled in the past decade, and older Americans now represent the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. student loan market, according to a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

As of 2015, more than 2.8 million Americans over 60 had outstanding student loan debt — up from some 700,000 in 2005.

Britain's prime minister said Tuesday that the United Kingdom will walk away from the European Union's single market and unified court system, making a sharp break with its largest trading partner.

In a speech delivered about six months after voters passed a referendum requiring Britain to leave the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May laid out a plan for what that split would look like, emphasizing limits on migration into the country.

The Japanese air bag manufacturer Takata has reached a $1 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over a deadly defect in its air bags that led to a massive recall.

At least 16 deaths, 11 of them in the U.S., have been linked to the defect.

The Justice Department says an investigation has found Chicago police are systematically violating the civil rights of people in the city through excessive use of force, poor oversight and inadequate training of officers.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the investigation's findings on Friday, saying the DOJ had concluded there was ample evidence the Chicago Police Department "engages in a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force," in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

A storm system that dumped precipitation on multiple states in the West appears to be easing, but rivers have yet to crest and many communities are still digging out from record snowfall.

There's a new jungle Jedi out there.

Scientists who discovered a new primate, which lives in eastern Myanmar and southwestern China, are such big Star Wars fans, they named the ape after Luke Skywalker.

They also chose the name, skywalker hoolock gibbon, because the Chinese characters mean "Heaven's movement," according to the BBC. The new species is also known as the Gaoligong hoolock gibbon, named for Mt. Gaoligong on the border between China and Myanmar.

A federal judge in South Carolina formally sentenced Dylann Roof to death on Wednesday, one day after a jury recommended that he be executed for murdering nine people in a Charleston church.

Under federal sentencing laws, the death penalty can be imposed only if all 12 jurors agree on it, and the judge cannot overrule the jury's decision.

Updated at 6:55 p.m. ET

A jury has sentenced to death the man who murdered nine people in a Charleston church basement in 2015.

The twelve jurors deliberated for about three hours before sentencing Dylann Roof, 22, to die. To impose the death penalty, they had to reach a unanimous decision.

Dylann Roof murdered nine people in a church basement in Charleston in 2015.

He confessed to the massacre shortly after he was arrested. He didn't testify at trial and no witnesses were called on his behalf before he was convicted of federal hate crimes.

The most emphatic statements on Roof's behalf came from defense attorney David Bruck. For weeks, the prosecution had presented evidence that Roof is a white supremacist whose violent racism drove him to kill black people. Bruck asked the jury to consider how the 22-year-old came to believe the things he did.

The online classified website Backpage.com said it has suspended its adult ad pages, citing government pressure about the content being shared there.

A 2016 Senate report called the website the "largest commercial sex services advertising platform in the United States" and said that "Backpage officials have publicly acknowledged that criminals use the website for sex trafficking, including trafficking of minors."

It's still unclear whether Verizon will follow through on a $4.8 billion deal to buy Yahoo's core internet business, but if the sale is finalized, there's a name for what will be left behind.

A police officer in Fort Worth, Texas, has been suspended for 10 days after an inquiry into his forceful arrest of a woman and her two daughters in December.

The arrest was recorded and streamed live on Facebook, as The Two-Way reported at the time:

Mothers should feel comfortable breast-feeding infants in public, Pope Francis said on Sunday, even if they are in one of the most sacred spaces in Catholicism.

Speaking at an annual ceremony to commemorate the baptism of Jesus, the pope addressed the families of 28 infants who were to be baptized in the Sistine Chapel. Some of the babies began to wail as the ceremony wore on, according to Vatican Radio:

Updated at 8:00 p.m. ET Saturday

The U.S. Attorney has charged Esteban Santiago, the man in custody for carrying out the deadly shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida on Friday afternoon.

At least five people were killed and six others were injured in the shooting, according to the Broward County Sheriff's Office.

Officials in the West African nation of Ivory Coast say soldiers have overrun police stations and seized the country's second-largest city, Bouake.

It has been six years since the West African nation emerged from a civil war, during which Bouake was the headquarters of the rebellion.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton said there were also reports of gunfire in two other cities, Daloa and Korhogo, and that it wasn't clear whether the attacks were a mutiny by current or former troops.

As Ofeibea reported for NPR's Newscast unit:

Former MF Global Chief Executive Jon Corzine will pay a $5 million penalty for his role in the company's collapse, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

MF Global collapsed in 2011, and hundreds of millions of dollars in customer money disappeared, as we reported.

After multiple recent studies showing that feeding peanut-containing foods to infants can reduce the risk of peanut allergies, there are new federal guidelines for parents about when to start feeding their infants such foods.

The judge has declared a mistrial in the corruption trial against former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

The jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked after three days of deliberations, according to The Associated Press. It is now up to prosecutors from the U.S. attorney's office about whether to retry Baca.

Baca had initially pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about corruption and prisoner abuse in the county jail he oversaw, but this summer he changed his mind and rejected a plea deal.

A New York art dealer has been arrested and charged with possessing and selling stolen artifacts from countries throughout Asia.

Nancy Wiener is accused of using her gallery in New York City, called Nancy Wiener Gallery, to "buy, smuggle, launder and sell millions of dollars' worth of antiquities stolen from Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, India, Pakistan, and Thailand," according to a complaint filed in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Pope Francis has outlined more reforms to the Roman Catholic Church, including elevating more women and lay people to leadership positions and focusing more on the multicultural nature of the modern church.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reported that it's the third year in a row the pope has used his Christmas address to Vatican employees to lecture them about how they must change:

Two Brazilian companies accused of a massive bribery scheme will pay more than $3.5 billion in fines to U.S. and Brazilian authorities.

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