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.

Current ozone standards are set at 75 parts per billion.
April Ashland, UPR

The United States Environmental Protection Agency is set to propose lower standards for ozone levels. The proposal comes after health studies showed detectable negative health impacts from ozone at the current level of 75 parts per billion.

Utah Division of Air Quality Director Bryce Bird said the state would have to develop a new plan to regulate air standards if the proposal is approved.

Wasatch Brewery's new beer was developed in support of same-sex marriage.
Wasatch Brewery

Wasatch Brewery isn’t known for shying away from political issues. The Park City-based brewery and pub has come out with such beers as the 1st Amendment Lager, produced in protest of a beer tax, and Evolution Amber Ale, aimed at the teaching of intelligent design in the state’s classrooms.

Now, a new beer in support of gay marriage is available, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Wasatch Founder and President Greg Schirf, said the new beer, titled “Live and Let Live”, is a pale ale with pairings of two types of malts, hops and yeasts.

Primary Mirror Segment testing for James Webb Telescope

Though the James Webb Space Telescope is not set to launch for another four years, NASA is preparing to assemble and test the device that will be used to observe distant objects in the universe.

Engineers at the Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan have made their final delivery of elements that will be used to direct heat away from vital instruments within the telescope.

Director of Civil Space at SDL, Jed Hancock, says the equipment must be both lightweight and flexible to be inserted into the intricate part of the telescope.

Many feet of new snow fell on top of a shallow and weak preexisting snow layer over the weekend.
Utah Avalanche Center

Avalanche danger across the state remains high after a wet weekend.

Extremely dry powder fell on top of old, faceted snow late last week. Then, over the weekend, heavy, wet snow and rain fell across the Northern portion of the state, creating dangerous conditions.

A Ferron man died in a Sunday avalanche in Sanpete County and a woman who was studying at Brigham Young University was caught in an avalanche in American Fork Canyon on Saturday and later died.

Utah Avalanche Center forecaster Toby Weed said conditions remain dangerous.


Two Utah lawmakers generated outrage on Monday after jokingly commenting about changing genders on Twitter. Monday morning State Rep. Jacob Anderegg posted to the social media site said he was "strongly considering a gender identifying change" so that he could use the women’s restroom because the men’s was occupied.

"Switching your gender identity? Just can’t keep up with you. You’re a new man! Erm…woman," said State Sen. Wayne Neiderhauser via Twitter in response to Anderegg's comment.

St. George residents will see a four to seven dollar monthly rate increase.

The price of electricity for some St. George residents is set to increase starting Feb. 1. The St. George City Council approved a 7 percent across-the-board rate increase on Thursday.

Phillip Solomon is the city’s energy services director. He says PacifiCorp unexpectedly raised the cost of transporting the power by 46 percent in September. Higher scheduling rates and a boost to the cost of electricity also prompted the decision, which occurred in the middle of the city’s fiscal year.

Undergraduate researchers from Utah State University and the University of Utah will gather at the rotunda in the State Capitol Thursday to present their research to state legislators.

Research on Capitol Hill was founded 14 years ago as a way for universities to showcase undergraduate research.

Scott Bates is involved with deciding which USU students present at the capitol. He calls the event a distinct experience for undergraduates and lawmakers, some of whom are in charge of state funding for research grants.

A 12-year-old northern Utah girl passed away on Saturday at Primary Children’s Medical Center from bacterial meningitis. Faith Hunter was a 6th grader at Mount Logan Middle School in Logan.

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. According to the Centers for Disease Control, bacterial meningitis can be caused by many types of bacteria, though most of them, including the type Hunter died from, are not easily contracted or transmissible.

SNOTEL collects precipitation data from around the state to help with water management.
Natural Resource Conservation Service

It has been a dry winter so far for Utah, and new data from the precipitation measuring system SNOTEL confirms that the state, and much of the West, is in for a dry year.

Federally run SNOTEL sensors are distributed around the state. They take measurements on things like snow depth and soil moisture levels, which can be used to help water managers decide how to allocate water.

Wednesday marked the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade. UPR spoke with two Utah organizations located on different sides of the discussion and found  both are concerned about the future of women’s healthcare.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision has become a divisive political issue in the state and around the nation in the 40 years since the court ruling legalized some forms of abortion.

Issenberg spoke about his new book "Victory Lab" on Wednesday.

Elections are still a ways off, but things are getting political at Utah State University. A brand new series titled “Foxley Forums”, named after USU alumn and political advisor, Douglas Foxley, kicked off Wednesday with author Sasha Issenberg.

Issenberg spoke about his book, "The Victory Lab — The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns."

The digital currency bitcoin can now be used to pay for goods on Overstock.com, a Salt Lake City based company.

Bitcoin users can exchange traditional currency, like dollars, for the online currency or “mine” money, by allowing their personal computer to act as a server for the cryptocurrency in exchange for a reward or service fee paid in bitcoins.

ExoMars is scheduled to launch in 2018.

An upcoming mission to Mars will have the help of one Utah company that will be providing some of the technology to find chemical evidence of life beneath the iron oxide that gives the “Red Planet” its nickname.

Wasatch Photonics makes high-tech refraction gratings and spectrometers that will be used by the ExoMars Mission. Developed by the European Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency, ExoMars is an astrobiological mission to find biosignatures of life.

Wasatch Photonics C.E.O. Gerald Heidt explains.


This year’s Grammys are on the 26th and featured on a recording nominated for “Best Instrumental Arrangement” and “Best Instrumental Composition” is a professor from Utah State University.

Guitar Studies Director Corey Christiansen plays on famous jazz musician Chuck Owen’s latest album, River Runs.

tesla motors, electric charging,

Tesla Motors opened its first charging station in Utah for its electric cars on Tuesday, but its placement in Blanding has left more than a few people shaking their heads.

Janet Bradford works at the Blanding Visitors Center, which shares property with the station. She said she hasn’t seen anyone charge up yet.

“The station’s there and it could be used, there’s still some fencing around part of it…I haven’t even seen anything in town that could use it,” Bradford said.

Chase Fine Arts Center, Design competition

Construction on the courtyard outside of Utah State University’s Chase Fine Arts Center began earlier this fall, but it wasn’t until Monday that a final design was selected for the space.

The new design was chosen through a student competition held by the Caine College of the Arts and the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. After an anonymous first round, judges narrowed the field from 34 to 6 designs.

Monday the judges met to hear presentations from each of the finalists and choose a winner. Before the presentations began, finalists excitedly paced the performance hall in suits, talking about their designs with faculty and friends.

Cold air from the polar vortex will not reach Utah.
National Weather Service

Temperatures across much of the eastern U.S. are hitting record lows this week, but meteorologists say the arctic air won’t be reaching Utah.

Air flow at the poles creates year-round vortices, also known as an arctic cyclone. A weakening of the North American winter jet stream can lead to distortions in the shape of the polar air mass and allow for cold air to push southward, like what’s happening now.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Larry Dunn explained it’s not the vortex itself that’s reaching much of the eastern U.S.

sunset, sun

Saturday is the day the Earth will be closest to the sun this year, but don’t expect a heat wave. NASA Ambassador Patrick Wiggins said the change is such a small percentage of the total distance to the sun that mere earthlings like us won’t notice any difference.

“At closest, like now, we’re about 147 million kilometers out. At the furthest, it’s about 152 million,” he said.
What does make a difference to Earth’s temperatures and seasons, Wiggins said, is the 23.4 percent tilt of our planet on its axis.

“This time of year we here in the northern hemisphere are tilted away from the sun which means the sun is lower in the sky, it hits us at a much lower angle and it’s also in the sky for much less time than it is when we’re tilted toward the sun, so all of that works together to make it cold,” Wiggins said.

A new report shows there were 22 domestic violence related deaths in 2013, down from 30 the year before. Utah Domestic Violence Coalition Director Peg Coleman said the number is still too high, but does show that progress has been made.

“The good news is that the number of fatalities did go down and I think it is because more systems this past year really have started to work together more closely and understand the intersections of domestic violence with other issues,” Coleman said.

Domestic violence is often paired with factors such as substance abuse, mental health issues, and suicide. Coleman said one of the coalition’s objectives is to bring together domestic violence fighting non-profits with service providers in these areas.

The H1N1 influenza strain is behind the majority of flu related hospitalizations in the state this season.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Salt Lake County Health Department has confirmed the first influenza deaths of the season. Two Salt Lake County residents between the ages of 35 and 64 died in the second half of December. 

According to officials at the Utah Department of Health, the number of flu related hospitalizations statewide this season is closely tracking last year’s higher than average numbers. Salt Lake County saw 21 deaths last year compared to 6 the year before, said Nicholas Rupp of the Salt Lake Health Department.

27 bald eagles have died across the state in the past month.
Phil Douglass, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Utah wildlife officials say the mystery deaths of more than 25 bald eagles across the state have been solved. Laboratory results have confirmed that West Nile Virus was the cause of illness, ruling out lead, toxic chemicals and bacterial infections.

West Nile is typically seen during the summer when mosquito populations, which carry the virus, are high.

Assistant State Veterinarian Warren Hess said the eagles may have been sickened by eating the carcasses of eared grebes, a small water bird that lives on the Great Salt Lake. 

Jacob Anderegg

State Rep. Jacob Anderegg is proposing a new state amendment that would ask Utahns to once again vote on the issue of marriage. The amendment, which Anderegg said is still in the works, would protect religious clergy from being required to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs or doctrine.

Anderegg (R-Lehi) said the proposal is a response to the Federal Government, not to the recent decision by Judge Robert J. Shelby.

Five eagles from across northern Utah have died from a mystery illness.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reports that another bald eagle has died from the mysterious illness that has caused the deaths of multiple birds across the state in the past two weeks.

By Monday four birds held in rehab facilities had died and one was in stable condition after showing symptoms including paralysis and tremors. However, after experiencing worsening symptoms the surviving bird was euthanized.

15 super-volcanoes similar in size to the one located beneath Yellowstone National Park today erupted 30 million years ago in Utah.

After nearly 30 years of geological research, a team from BYU said they have found evidence of some of the largest volcanic eruptions in the history of the planet.

Around 30 million years ago, when large mammals roamed North America, Utah was the site of 15 super eruptions. Head researcher Eric Christiansen said one of the largest eruptions happened near Wah Wah Springs in central Utah.

“Compared to what erupted out of Mount St. Helens in 1980, it’s about 5,000 times bigger,” Christiansen said.

The Utah Food Bank has seen more online donations this holiday season than in years past.

Increased need during the government shutdown in October led many Utah food banks to voice concerns over reduced food supplies for the upcoming holiday season. Jeanette Bott from the Utah Food Bank said Utahns have reached out with donations, keeping pantries across the state stocked. 

Bott said the portion of donations made online has grown this year, while typical food donations are down statewide.

The pantry said donations of high protein foods like tuna and beef stew are always needed, as well as kid-friendly products like mac and cheese.