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.

It was a familiar scene for many in New Orleans East, part of the city's Ninth Ward.

"As helicopters hovered overhead and emergency response vehicles streamed into neighborhoods, it reminded them of [Hurricane] Katrina," reported Tegan Wendland of member station WWNO in New Orleans. "The area was hit hard by that storm, and now many families will have to rebuild again."

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted an easement allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, paving the way for construction of the final 1.5 miles of the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline.

In doing so, the Army cut short its environmental impact assessment and the public comment period associated with it.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards was sued Monday over his state's public defender system, which plaintiffs say violates the U.S. and Louisiana Constitutions by denying effective representation to poor people accused of crimes.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

A wall of dangerous storms is moving across the South, threatening communities in their path with high winds, severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes.

A French judge has ordered former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to stand trial over allegations that he violated France's campaign finance laws during his failed 2012 bid for re-election.

Sarkozy was eliminated from this year's presidential election in November when Francois Fillon defeated him in the first round of the primary for France's conservative party, as The Guardian reported.

Track and field's world governing body decided Monday to maintain Russia's suspension from international competition.

During a meeting of the International Association of Athletics Federations, or IAAF, the governing body's president, Sebastian Coe, told the AFP that Russia "could not be reintegrated into the sport before November."

In Afghanistan, the number of civilian casualties reached an all-time high in 2016, the United Nations reported Monday.

Nearly 11,500 civilians were killed and wounded in the country last year — including more than 3,500 children. It is an overall increase of 3 percent compared with 2015, which was the previous record-high since the U.N. began systematic documentation in 2009.

Among children, the latest numbers represent a staggering 24 percent increase in injuries and deaths.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet says wildfires that killed at least 11 people and caused more than $300 million in damage are mostly under control.

"[These are] the worst wildfires that Chile has suffered in its history ... [but] are now mostly under control," Bachelet said over the weekend, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. "That doesn't mean, however, that we are letting down our guard."

Afghan officials say more than 100 people died in avalanches over the weekend, after nearly 10 feet of snow buried some parts of the country around Kabul and east to the Pakistan border.

Dozens of houses were destroyed and "people were reported to have frozen to death, trapped in cars," according to the BBC.

Updated at 4:30 a.m. ET Saturday

A federal judge in Seattle has issued a nationwide temporary stay against President Trump's executive order that prevented citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Judge James Robart acted to stop implementation of the order while a case brought by the states of Washington and Minnesota is heard.

The White House issued a statement Friday night, saying the Justice Department will appeal the Seattle judge's action:

One of the problems with bats, if you're a robotics expert, is that they have so many joints.

That's what robotics researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Caltech quickly learned when they set out to build a robot version of the flying mammal.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

The U.S. Treasury Department announced additional sanctions on Iran on Friday, less than a week after a ballistic missile test prompted the Trump administration to accuse Iran of violating an international a weapons agreement.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he would be in favor of additional sanctions on Iran, one day after National Security Adviser Michael Flynn admonished Iran for a ballistic missile test it conducted on Sunday.

"I'd like to put as much toothpaste back in the tube as possible. I think the last administration appeased Iran far too much," Ryan said at a news conference.

On Wednesday, Flynn said "we are officially putting Iran on notice," but declined to elaborate.

The U.S. Treasury Department has modified sanctions against Russia, allowing U.S. companies to interact with Russia's domestic intelligence agency, the FSB.

The sanctions were imposed by the Obama administration on Dec. 29 in the wake of Russia's meddling in the U.S. presidential campaign, and were meant to deprive the FSB of access to some technologies.

More than 70 people were arrested on Wednesday afternoon near the proposed route of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, as Western lawmakers expressed opposing views on the future of the $3.8 billion project.

The remains of the world's most destructive stone marten are now on display at a museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

On Nov. 20, 2016, the animal hopped over a fence at the $7 billion Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, touched a transformer and was electrocuted by 18,000 volts.

The marten died instantly. The collider, which accelerates particles to near the speed of light to study the fiery origins of the universe, lost power and shut down.

The U.S. Embassy in Chile says it is sending an additional $740,000 for protective equipment and firefighting tools, as the country continues to battle more than 70 active wildfires that have killed at least 11 people in the past two weeks.

French authorities are investigating allegations that conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon hired his wife for what was essentially a sham position.

He is accused of putting his wife, Penelope, on his parliamentary office payroll and paying her about $900,000 of taxpayer money over a 15-year period, according to the satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaine. Fillon also reportedly hired two of his children.

Hiring one's spouse is not illegal, reports NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, but "there's little evidence she actually worked."

An archaeologist has launched a citizen science project that invites anyone with an Internet connection to help look for evidence of archaeological site looting.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

U.S. officials say Iran test-fired a ballistic missile on Sunday, the first known test since President Trump took office — which could provide an early assessment of how the new administration will interpret and enforce the terms of the international deal to curb Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities.

For years, the satellites of America's Global Positioning System have been carrying sensors that measure the weather in space.

The information has been kept by the military, which manages the satellites, because solar storms and other space weather can damage satellites.

Today, as the result of an executive order signed last October, the government released 16 years of that space weather data to the public for the first time.

The leader of the Philippine National Police said Monday that the agency's anti-drug units would be shut down and the deadly crackdown on people who use and sell drugs would be suspended.

Instead, the crackdown will temporarily shift to inside the police force itself.

"We will cleanse our ranks ... then maybe after that, we can resume our war on drugs," police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa said, according to the BBC.

Leaders of several American companies have announced plans to hire, house or otherwise support people affected by President Trump's sweeping freeze on people seeking asylum in the U.S. or traveling from seven largely Muslim countries.

NPR's Carrie Johnson breaks down the president's executive order on immigration here.

President Trump spoke by phone to President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico for an hour on Friday, according to statements by both leaders.

Peña Nieto was scheduled to visit the White House on Jan. 31. But on Wednesday Trump signed an order to move forward with a wall along the Mexican border and insisted that Mexico would eventually pay the bill.

On Thursday, Peña Nieto canceled his planned visit to the U.S. without giving a reason.

President Trump met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader since he took office a week ago.

With the United Kingdom preparing to leave the European Union, May is looking for a trade deal with the U.S.

The government of Chile says wildfires that have killed at least 10 people are the worst blazes in the country's history.

Several firefighters are among the dead.

"We have never seen anything on this scale, never in the history of Chile," President Michelle Bachelet said earlier this week, after her administration declared a state of emergency. "The truth is that the forces are doing everything humanly possible and will continue until they can contain and control the fires."

Esteban Santiago Ruiz, the 26-year-old man arrested shortly after the shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Jan. 6, has been indicted on 22 counts by a federal grand jury.

Santiago allegedly killed five people in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2 after retrieving a weapon from a checked bag and loading it in the bathroom.

Mary Louise Amzibel, Michael John Oehme, Olga M . Woltering, Shirley Wells Timmons and Terry Michael Andres all died, according to the indictment.

A federal judge in Ohio has rejected the state's three-drug lethal injection protocol on the grounds that one of the drugs, the sedative midazolam, is not sufficiently humane in its effects.

The drug has been used during multiple botched executions in Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma and Alabama, as The Two-Way has reported.

An underground pipeline that runs through multiple Midwestern states has leaked an estimated 138,000 gallons of diesel fuel, according to the company that owns it, Magellan Midstream Partners.

Clay Masters of Iowa Public Radio reported diesel leaking from a 12-inch underground pipe was initially spotted in a farm field in north-central Worth County, Iowa, on Wednesday morning. Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Iowa Department of Natural Resources joined representatives of Magellan and other local officials at the site, Masters reported.

On Tuesday night, President Trump threatened to intervene in Chicago's law enforcement, citing the number of shootings and murders there in 2016 and 2017.

It wasn't clear what type of intervention the president was referring to in a tweet he sent out Tuesday evening saying he "will send in the Feds!" if Chicago "doesn't fix the horrible 'carnage' going on."

Pages