Kate O'Connell

Reporter, Innovation Trail, Finger Lakes

WXXI/Finger Lakes Reporter for the Innovation Trail

Kate O’Connell comes to WXXI from Melbourne, Australia, and studied journalism at Royal Melboure Institute of Technology.

During her studies, Kate was a freelance journalist, reporting from Nepal and Haiti, and worked with the media team of the United Nations partner group, International Organization for Migration.

Kate's experience also includes work for the Shepparton News, Australian Broadcasting Company, Melbourne’s Channel 31, RRR radio and WIN television.

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6:03am

Thu April 17, 2014

3:35pm

Wed March 26, 2014
Business

Kodak puts Eastman Business Park on the market

Eastman Business Park
wxxi file photo

The Eastman Business Park (EBP) in Rochester is officially up for sale, Kodak announced Tuesday.

Company spokesman Chris Veronda says it’s the right time to hand development of the industrial and technology park over to a new entity.

"Kodak believes the site can best continue its transformation under the ownership of a firm that’s focused on its redevelopment. And, at the same time, the sale of EBP will allow Kodak to focus on its customers in the commercial imaging business."

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8:32am

Sat March 8, 2014
Environment

Who is making sure school buildings are health environments?

A new book is shining a spotlight on the environmental issues within our nation’s schools.

"Toxic Schoolhouse," is an anthology that raises a number of issues including the absence of oversight of schools by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Madeleine Scammell, co-editor of the compilation, says the EPA has no regulatory authority in the local school, so watchdog responsibilities too often fall to teachers and parents.

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7:08am

Fri March 7, 2014
Environment

Water sale ban appealed

Painted Post, Corning aquifer
GDACC

Environmental groups won a court injunction last year against the village of Painted Post, preventing them from continuing water shipments for fracking operations in Pennsylvania.

The case was brought before the State Supreme Appellate Division Court in Rochester recently, with officials from the town in Steuben County vying for a different outcome.

The village of Painted Post has a five-year contract with Shell Oil subsidiary SWEPI LP. The deal calls for up to a million gallons of water a day to be shipped by rail to supply gas fracking operations in Pennsylvania.

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7:49am

Wed March 5, 2014
Health

EPA finalizes standards to reduce car emissions

Some rights reserved by Antonio Garcia.

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized its federal emission standards for cars and gasoline Monday, putting them in line with programs already in place in California.

The cleaner fuel and car standards will be rolled out starting in 2017. Once fully in place, the EPA estimates they’ll lower overall pollution levels and help avoid up to 2,000 early deaths per year.

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7:04am

Tue March 4, 2014
Health

Low radiation imaging comes to upstate New York

Golisano Children's Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center

Young patients with spinal problems in upstate New York now have local access to imaging technology that substantially decreases their exposure to radiation.

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8:05am

Mon February 24, 2014
Environment

University at Buffalo to tackle global environmental issues

University at Buffalo geology professor Jason Briner conducting climate change research in Canada.
Jason Briner

A new institute designed to tackle complex environmental issues across the globe has been launched in upstate New York. This month, the University at Buffalo announced the launch of the RENEW (Research and Education in Energy, Environment, and Water) program.

Alexander Cartwright, vice president of research and economic development at the university, says an emphasis has been placed on assembling an interdisciplinary and unbiased team to tackle controversial issues.

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8:19am

Wed February 19, 2014
Energy

Potential flood risk causes citation at upstate nuclear plant

United States Government Work

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a citation to the owners of the Ginna nuclear power plant in upstate New York. Preliminary inspection findings released Tuesday cited the plant for failure to address a long-standing flood risk. The issue is considered a low-to-moderate level safety concern.

It all comes down to an improperly sealed manhole at the plant, which could have allowed flood waters to breach the rooms housing emergency batteries.

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7:58am

Fri February 14, 2014
Business

On-the-job injuries higher for public sector

Some rights reserved by tehusagent

New data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows New York state and local government employees experienced a much higher rate of injury and illness than workers in any other industry during 2012.

It may not be something you’ve ever considered, but a lot of the time, there’s an inherent risk associated with jobs in the public sector.

And, according to Nellie Brown, director of the workplace health and safety program at Cornell University, that has a big impact on statistics like these.

The BLS report states:

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7:07am

Thu February 13, 2014
Health

Possible treatment for Parkinson's developed upstate

Some rights reserved by ZEISS Microscopy

Researchers in upstate New York have developed a new cell therapy that could treat Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder which affects motor function. The study from the University of Rochester Medical Center suggests this new approach could not only halt progression of the disease, but also reverse its impact on the brain.

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3:42pm

Tue February 11, 2014
Health

Study finds healthcare providers overlooking costs

A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that, despite healthcare spending that has reached nearly $3 trillion each year in the U.S., few general medicine programs around the country are teaching new physicians to practice cost-conscious care.

A survey of nearly 300 residency programs around the U.S revealed that the vast majority of healthcare providers believe it’s their responsibility to help decrease rising costs.

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8:25am

Tue February 11, 2014
Health

Stem cell discovery sets science community abuzz

A researcher working at the University of Rochester Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Institute.
Kate O'Connell WXXI

The science community was buzzing this week with news of a breakthrough in stem cell research. Stem cells have the potential to transform into any tissue in the body, and are being explored as treatment options for trauma and degenerative diseases.

When we’re born, our cells are programmed to carry out a specific role. They automatically become muscle cells, skin cells, nerve cells, and that role can’t be changed.

But stem cells can be manipulated to become any kind of cell, offering the potential for regeneration in the body.

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2:59pm

Fri February 7, 2014
Environment

Upstate communities tackle pollution in the Genesee River

Algae on Ontario Beach outside of Rochester on Lake Ontario
Center for Environmental Initiatives

Community members from across western New York came together in Rochester Thursday to address the issue of pollution in the Genesee River, and create an action plan for the immediate future.

The summit, run by the Center for Environmental Initiatives, was spurred by a new study which suggests human activity along the Genesee River Basin is having a direct impact on the water quality in Lake Ontario.

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7:49am

Thu January 30, 2014
The Upstate Economy

Biden promotes reinvention of workforce training upstate

Vice President Joe Biden speaks to a crowd gathered at Monroe Community College in Rochester Wednesday.
Jim Day WXXI

In his State of the Union address President Barack Obama tapped Vice President Joe Biden to lead a reform of the country’s training programs to ensure the skills in the workforce match employers’ needs.

Biden traveled to upstate New York Wednesday promoting the President’s agenda. Speaking at Monroe Community College (MCC) in Rochester, he said community colleges are a vital part of the process of reinventing the nation’s workforce training.

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8:00am

Wed January 29, 2014
Health

Researchers pinpoint where in the brain Alzheimer's begins

Columbia University Medical Center researchers have used high resolution imaging to show that Alzheimer’s begins in a specific part of the brain, known as a gateway to the hippocampus.

Dr. Scott Small, co-author of the study, says this particular area plays a vital role in consolidating long term memories. The discovery could help with early diagnosis of the disease, and that, he says, could lead to more effective intervention.

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3:22pm

Mon January 27, 2014
Politics and Government

Investigation launched into student debt relief industry

Some rights reserved by Marsmettnn Tallahassee

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s newly formed Student Protection Unit has launched an investigation into the student debt relief industry.

Led by the state Department of Financial Services (DFS), it’s designed to be a consumer watchdog for New York students. And, one day after being established in the 2014 Executive Budget address, the unit issued subpoenas to 13 companies in its first official action.

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8:34am

Sat January 25, 2014
Health

FDA reviews antibacterial soaps and washes

Some rights reserved by Arlington County

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started a review of the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial products across a range of industries.

The first stage of the process will focus on antibacterial soaps and body washes. Despite some heavy marketing, FDA officials say very little is known about the long-term effects of these products.

In December, the administration gave manufacturers a year to prove their antibacterial soaps and washes are safe for long term daily use, and are more effective than regular soap and water in preventing illness.

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7:37am

Fri January 24, 2014
Technology

Antimicrobial glass for smart devices created upstate

Corning Inc Gorilla Glass

Upstate glass manufacturer Corning Inc. has developed the first antimicrobial glass for our proliferating smart devices, lap tops, and TVs. The glass is more resistant to bacteria but, doubts are emerging about the benefits of antibacterial products.

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8:02am

Wed January 22, 2014
Technology

Budget paves way for statewide information sharing for police

Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Tuesday’s executive budget proposal address included a $10 million initiative from the Cuomo administration to create a statewide police information database.

The New York State Protection Cloud is designed to make it quicker and easier for local police departments to share information across jurisdictions.

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10:13am

Mon January 20, 2014
Regional Coverage

Sheriff's departments air concerns over SAFE Act

Ken Hawkins Flickr

One year after the passage of the New York SAFE Act, sheriff’s departments across the state are still struggling to wrap their heads around the law, and some have gone so far as expressing personal opposition to the new laws.

Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn says there are facets of the law that make sense, but that there are many problems. These problems, according to many upstate New York sheriffs, could have been avoided if they'd been more involved from the start.

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8:34am

Sat January 11, 2014
Science

Experiment developed by upstate students heads to International Space Station

A water bear, or tardigrade
Some rights reserved by Goldstein Lab

High school students in upstate New York watched as a rocket carrying one of their science experiments was launched Thursday. Its destination is the International Space Station orbiting the earth over 200 miles above us.

Vicki Aman and Cheyanne Jeffrey are in their senior year at Rochester Early College International High School (RECIHS). The team is hoping their research will contribute to our growing knowledge of life in space.

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3:47pm

Thu January 9, 2014
Politics and Government

Cuomo outlines emergency preparedness initiative

Carlet Cleare/WXXI

In his annual State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a major initiative to ramp up New York’s capacity for dealing with natural disasters.

Part of the multi-million dollar proposal involves installing a state-of-the-art weather detection system to provide more accurate, real time warnings.

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5:36am

Wed January 1, 2014
Technology

Smartphone app can check cholesterol in 60 seconds

Cornell University

Researchers in upstate New York have created an app that will allow users to test their cholesterol levels through a blood sample that’s analyzed directly through their smartphone.  

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7:06am

Wed December 25, 2013
Business

Refugee communities diversify upstate business environment

Somali Community in Western New York

The desire for familiar food, clothing, and other products from home is spurring refugee communities in upstate New York to start their own businesses. In response, a group in Rochester has organized a six-week startup business training course to help the Somali refugee community navigate the process.

“They can actually create their own little local economy where they can exchange, similar to what they had in Somalia,” says David Dey, president and CEO of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship.

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12:37pm

Fri December 20, 2013
Energy

Public Service Commission to be sued over withheld information

The state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) is coming under fire yet again with claims that the body’s proceedings lack transparency.

A group of elected officials, ratepayers, and environmental groups announced Thursday that they’re filing a lawsuit in state Supreme Court against the PSC in an attempt to gain access to documents relating to the future of two power plants in upstate New York.

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8:28am

Fri December 20, 2013
Energy

Dunkirk power plant to switch to natural gas

File photo
Kate O'Connell Innovation Trail

Many of New York’s power stations are reaching the end of their operating lives, with coal-fired plants becoming less viable from both a business and environmental standpoint.

This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $150 million deal that will see the coal-fired power plant in Dunkirk converted to burn natural gas.

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7:58am

Thu December 19, 2013
Health

Fracking chemicals can disrupt hormones

File photo
Bosc d'Anjou Flickr

Chemicals used in the process of hydraulic fracturing can disrupt the body’s normal hormone function according to new research published recently in the Journal of Endocrinology.

The study looked at Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) involved in drilling. Results showed that hormone disrupting activity was higher in water samples taken from drill sites where spills had occurred, compared to sites where little or no drilling had occurred.  

At certain levels of exposure, EDCs have been associated with cancer and infertility in adults.

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7:57am

Fri December 13, 2013
Health

Human-on-a-chip

Researchers at the ECBC look at results from human-on-a-chip testing.
ECBC

In a handful of labs around the U.S., researchers are creating human tissue from stem cells and manipulating them to replicate the functions of human organs, all on platforms about the size of a thumb drive. This research platform is known as a "human-on-a-chip," and it has the potential to change the nature of medical treatment.

Dr. Harry Salem has been involved in his fair share of exciting scientific breakthroughs, including the creation of the breathalyzer, the infant incubator, and Nyquil.

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3:15pm

Tue December 10, 2013
The Upstate Economy

State subsidy system lacks transparency at regional level

Snapshot of IDA performance in central New York.
ALIGN

New York state’s economic development programs lack transparency and accountability at a regional level, according to a new report released Monday by the left-leaning Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN).

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8:25am

Mon December 9, 2013
Environment

Researchers investigate link between water pollution and NY property values

Property values may be connected to the presence of the Common Loon.
Shawn McCready Flickr

Researchers from Clarkson University are gearing up to study the impacts of water pollution on property values across 26 counties in upstate New York.

Funded by a two year NYSERDA grant, researchers will study water quality data and correlate that with property sales over the past decade. And there’s already evidence of a relationship between the two.

In a recent study, economics professor Martin Heintzelman - who’ll be working on the new study – found that high water acidity lowered property prices in the Adirondacks by up to 24 percent.

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