Elaine Taylor

5:30 News Co-host / Reporter

After graduating with a B.S. in Anthropology from the University of Utah, Elaine developed a love of radio while working long hours in remote parts of Utah as an archaeological field technician. She eventually started interning for the radio show Science Questions and fell completely in love with the medium. Elaine is currently taking classes at Utah State University in preparation for medical school applications. She is a host of UPR’s 5:30 Newscast and a science writer for the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station. Elaine hopes to bring her experiences living abroad in Turkey and Austria into her work.


A new study from polling site FiveThirtyEight and the U.S. Census Bureau has confirmed what state democrats say they already know—despite increased talk about education in the state, funding is dwindling.

Image of skulls from the study.
Biological Reviews journal

A new study from researchers at the University of Utah suggests Homo sapiens’ ancestors evolved to take a punch to the face.

The research suggests that violence stemming from male competition for access to mates millions of years ago has influenced the shape of the hominin skull, making it robust in areas it wouldn’t need to be if it had evolved only for eating.

“The face and the head are the most commonly struck targets and those areas of the face that are hit the most are the areas that show the most increase in robustness throughout our evolution,” said author Michael Morgan, an emergency medicine resident at the University of Utah.

Map of road closures
National Park Service

After years of growing visitation numbers, Arches National Park near Moab will be expanding one of its largest parking lots.

The Devils Garden parking lot will be closed for construction for 10 days in June. Between the 16th and the 26th visitors to the park won’t be able to access one of the most popular trails that features land marks such as Landscape Arch, Double O arch and the Primitive Loop Trail.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The number of cases of measles in the United States in 2014 has already doubled compared to the total number of cases seen during 2013. On Tuesday, Utah’s first case of the respiratory illness was confirmed by the Utah Department of Health, adding to the growing number of cases seen since the illness was eliminated from the U.S. 14 years ago.

Women entering college tend to face an increased risk of eating disorders, especially those who are Caucasian, religious and achievement orientated. Though these risk factors describe many students at Brigham Young University, new research from the school shows women there are bucking the national trend.

Researchers from BYU conducted a longitudinal study, tracking hundreds of women’s responses to eating disorder questionnaires over three years.


Two and a half weeks after a federal judge ordered the state of Utah to recognize the 1,300 same-sex marriages performed in Dec. and Jan., the state has announced its plan to appeal the ruling.

On Wednesday, Gov. Gary Herbert and State Attorney General Sean Reyes filed a notice of appeal in federal court saying they would challenge U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball’s May 19 ruling.


A new report released by the Beer Institute, the national beer industry representative, shows the growing economic impact beer brewing has on the state’s economy. According to the report, beer brings in a total of $179 million in local, state and federal taxes, with a total economic impact of over $1 billion.

Logan Canyon

A rescue effort was underway Wednesday in Logan Canyon. Two women, who claim to have been stranded for multiple days in the canyon, contacted another hiker in the area around 10 a.m. who called for help.

Medical and search and rescue crews were dispatched to Logan Canyon where they assisted the 19- and 46-year-old women down the mountain. However, the case has taken a criminal turn since the rescue.


Earthlings may finally get a glimpse of a meteor shower hundreds of years in the making on Friday, that’s if the comet called 209P/LINEAR left enough space dust in its trail to be visible in Earth’s night sky.

“If, 200 years ago when nobody knew it existed, it was a really active comet that threw off a bunch of stuff, we’re in for a great show. If, however, it was not an active comet, we may be just standing out there watching the sky and not seeing much,” said Utah's NASA Ambassador Patrick Wiggins.


A federal judge has ordered that the state of Utah must recognize same-sex marriages performed during the 17-day window following the Dec. 20 ruling that struck down a same-sex marriage ban in the state. 1,300 couples were issued licenses in the time between the ruling and the Supreme Court’s temporary halt of the marriages.

In his ruling Monday, federal Judge Dale Kimball wrote that the state has placed the couples in “legal limbo with respect to adoptions, child care and custody, medical decisions,” and other rights associated with marriage.

Scientists have long wondered if a species would evolve in the same way if you were to go back in time and start its evolution over; or if nature would take a different course the second time around.

Utah State University Assistant Professor of biology Zach Gompert had wondered this too. So, using walking stick insects that call different plants home, he set out to find an answer.

The renegotiation of the joint agreement between the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune is once again making news. The new agreement, which was put in place at the beginning of the year, changed the Trib’s portion of the two newspapers’ shared revenue from a long-term 58 percent to 30 percent.

Utah Senator Jim Dabakis said the Trib is likely to go under in the next two months, thanks to what he calls an illegal agreement between the Deseret News and Tribune owner Alden Global Capital.

LGBT rainbow flag

A federal judge has refused to put gay marriages on hold in Idaho pending an appeal from the state’s governor.

U.S. District Magistrate Judy Candy Dale wrote Wednesday morning that Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s appeal isn’t likely to succeed, so there’s no reason to keep same-sex couples from seeking marriage licenses or marrying.

Same-sex couples in Idaho will be able to begin marrying at 9 a.m. Friday.

Aspen trees on a hillside
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service

Utah’s new official tree, the aspen, may possibly be the largest of all state trees if you look at it like scientists do—as a clone colony, which can grow to weigh 13 million pounds.

The aspen trees you see above the ground are better thought of as stems of a much larger underground organism, according to Utah State University extension agent Jody Gale.

Karl Beckstrand

National Astronomy Day is on Saturday. The holiday marks a day that professional and amateur astronomers gather to enjoy the night sky together. The Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City is hosting an event in celebration of Astronomy Day, including a book signing by Karl Beckstrand, author of Bright Star, Night Star: An Astronomy Story.

“It’s kind of a primer for kids who are getting their first exposure to astronomy and the night sky,” Beckstrand said.

The University of Utah

A new star discovered by a team from the University of Utah, in collaboration with astronomers in China, makes the star at the center of our solar system seem a bit boring.

Part 6: Aging Alone

May 7, 2014
woman stands in front of house
Utah Public Radio, Elaine Taylor

"My Address Is" is a Utah Public Radio series exploring Utah issues associated with how and where we live. This is part six of six.

“My name is LaRue, and that's L-a capital R-u-e. It means ‘the street’ and I always figured it meant I’d been walked on all my life [laughter], which is not true. Anyways, my address is ‘home.’”

As baby boomers hit retirement and the U.S. population ages, more and more people are left living alone in their later years. And more are choosing to stay at home.

LaRue Willis was born in Idaho in 1928. She married her husband in 1953 and together they had eight children. Three years ago her husband passed away, leaving LaRue to forge a new life for herself – alone. On the day I met with LaRue in her ranch-style house in northern Cache Valley, she described how hard the last few years had been.

“The hardest part is the loneliness. Sometimes I get panic attacks when I am alone and it’s really difficult.”

As many college students graduate around the state this weekend, another May tradition will be underway as well. Free Comic Book Day takes place on the first Saturday of May each year. I called up one local comic book store to learn a little about the holiday.

*Rinnnggg*… “Death Ray Comics, *pew*, *pew*”

Death Ray Comics is a small store in downtown Logan that sells comic books and other nerd-friendly merchandise. Trent Hunsaker is the owner, though he prefers to go by a different title.

The international language of science is English, but for the large number of researchers who don’t speak the language, making their work accessible to the international community can be a challenge.

A new book titled Dinosaurs and Other Reptiles from the Mesozoic of Mexico was edited by Utah State University Paleontologist Ken Carpenter. In the book, researchers who work across Mexico translated their work to English. Carpenter then edited the information.

crow flying
National Park Service

Hunters in Utah may get a chance to pursue a few new kinds of birds this coming season. Biologists from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will be sharing proposals to allow the hunting of crows and turkeys, and increasing the bag limits on other currently hunted birds.

Division of Wildlife Resources Migratory Game Bird Coordinator Blair Stringham says many western states already allow crow hunting.

A problem that has been brewing in a southern Nevada city for years may finally be addressed after residential outcry.

Residents of the Highland Hills neighborhood in Mesquite say their homes were built within a 200-foot buffer zone that supposedly surrounded a preexisting landfill.

Now, residents are sometimes able to hear their homes crack as the landfill settles and shifts beneath their feet.

Mesquite city manager Andy Barton said the city is aware of the issue and is currently investigating.

Golden eagle sits in tree.

Wyoming wildlife authorities said an electrocuted golden eagle found last month is the second-oldest of the species discovered in North America.

Wyoming Fish and Game Department Biologist Tim Thomas said the bird was banded — or given a special ID number — more than 30 years ago in the northeastern portion of the state. 


“This particular bird was banded in the nest, so we know it was the young of that year in 1983,” Thomas said. “It was part of a study to look at the ability to move nests in the Powder River Basin ahead of coal mining.”

American Atheists

This weekend, as thousands of Utahns celebrate Easter and Passover, hundreds of people will gather at the American Atheists national conference in Salt Lake City.

According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, 16 percent of Americans identify as atheist, agnostic or “nothing.” 

pink dinosaur in sunset

Dinah is Utah’s pinkest dinosaur, and she may soon become the state’s prettiest now that the city of Vernal has approved a makeover for her. Dinah the dinosaur is a 40-foot-tall Brontosaurus (scientifically known as “Apatosaurus”) that sits on the east end of Vernal City. Originally built in 1958 as part of the Dine-A-Ville Motel, Dinah was given to the city in the 1990s.

organic food store checkout
Elaine Taylor / Utah Public Radio

Organic foods used to be reserved for Chaco-wearing granola types, but these days the industry is growing quickly. New organic grocery stores have opened across the state in the past year. Logan saw the grand opening of Natural Grocers on Tuesday, a chain store that has seen success in less urban areas.

Utah State University professor Tamara Steinitz says people are becoming more interested in knowing their food’s history.

“It’s one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the food industry. People are more interested in knowing where their food comes from, how it’s grown, what’s put into it or not put into it, care of the animals, use of pesticides, hormones, things like that,” Steinitz said.

The new store was busy Tuesday afternoon, with many families and college students wandering the aisles. Many shoppers said they were excited to have a wider organic selection available. A few, like Evan, a shopper who we caught up with outside of the store are still a bit skeptical of organics.