Catherine Shaffer | Michigan Radio

Catherine Shaffer


Catherine Shaffer joined Michigan Radio in 2014. She works in the newsroom and specializes in stories related to the life sciences, health, and technology. Catherine earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Michigan State University and a Master’s from University of Michigan. Prior to Michigan Radio, Catherine has worked as a freelance writer, mainly in focusing on biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry, since 2001. She is also an award-winning fiction writer. When not at work, Catherine enjoys being in the outdoors and practicing yoga.

prison bars
Thomas Hawk / Flickr -

A class action lawsuit has been filed against the Michigan Department of Corrections, alleging medical negligence and unhygienic conditions at Michigan's only women's prison. 

The lawsuit claims that prison officials failed to diagnose and treat a scabies outbreak for two years. It also says that the facility is not cleaned properly, resulting in a black mold infestation in the shower area.

Elissa Slotkin
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

An amendment added by Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of a campaign finance and government accountability reform bill. The bill is aimed at reducing the role of big money in politics, ensuring fair elections, and strengthening ethics standards. It would make election day a holiday for federal workers, create a public financing system for congressional campaigns, bar voter roll purges, and restore voting rights for ex-prisoners.

A wind turbine above a barn
jettajet / Flickr

DTE Energy's Pine River wind park became operational this week. The utility now has 14 wind parks and 31 solar projects in Michigan.

Dave Harwood is with DTE. He says Pine River is the latest addition to DTE's renewable energy porftolio. "Here in Michigan we're doing our part to transition our generating fleet from fossil fuels to renewable sources," says Harwood.

Bee on a flower
Paul Glaum

Urbanization appears to be decreasing the number of females in some wild bee species. That's according to a study from the University of Michigan. 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan will deliver his sixth State of the City speech on Tuesday, March 5. Duggan's office has not released any details of the planned speech, but in the past, he has focused on issues like affordable housing, jobs, and education. 

Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Michigan has received a dizzying number of different weather-related warnings over the past two months, ranging from severe cold to freezing rain--and now, snow squalls. Most of these warnings are related to travel conditions. But what do they really mean?

person smoking a marijuana pipe

Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs wants input on its rulemaking process for marijuana. The agency is setting up work groups to give suggestions on topics like licensing and allowing new facilities in communities.

medical marijuana application
Doug Tribou / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order abolishing the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board.  It creates a new marijuana regulatory agency within the Department of Licensing and regulatory affairs. The functions of the licensing board will be taken over by that agency, and the board itself is abolished.

Catherine Shaffer

In Michigan, police can seize your property if they believe it’s involved in a crime. And they can auction it off before you’re convicted of anything. Actually, before you’re even charged with a crime.

PDru2014 /

A spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit has responded to comments by attorney general Dana Nessel about ongoing sexual abuse investigations. Nessel called on the church to stop its internal investigations so that police could handle sexual abuse complaints.

Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton

Two U.S. Representatives from Michigan made an appeal for more cooperation between political parties at a forum hosted by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Catherine Shaffer

Activists gathered in Lansing, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Ferndale to protest President Trump's national emergency declaration. Following months of clashes with Congress, and a 35-day partial government shutdown, the President declared a national emergency in order to access about $8 billion in funds to build a southern border wall. 

Protesters say the declaration is an abuse of executive power and that there is no real emergency. 

prison bars
Flickr /

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has canceled the pending sale of a former correctional facility in Ionia to a private prison company, Immigration Centers of America, for use as an immigrant detention center.  

She says she could not get an assurance from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that the facility would not house parents who were separated from their kids.

LisaW123 / Flickr

Power outages for more than one hundred thousand Michiganders could continue for several more days. Authorities are scrambling to respond to a growing emergency.

The Red Cross has opened shelters in West Michigan for people who can't stay in their homes, and they're warning people to be careful with alternative heat sources like kerosene heaters if they hunker down in their homes. Improperly vented heaters can release dangerous fumes. Electric heaters, fireplaces, and candles could start a fire if left unattended.

Judge's gavel with books

The Department of Homeland Security set up a fake university in Farmington Hills to uncover what it describes as a nationwide illegal immigration scheme. Eight individuals from around the country were charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harboring aliens for profit.

An aerial view of Downtown Detroit with other part of the city in the distance.
Robert Thompson / Wikimedia Commons

A merger between Chemical Bank and TCF is expected to add more jobs and lending resources to the Detroit-area economy. The new bank will have $45 billion in assets, and is expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the area.

Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria
Kris Grogan / U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Federal aid was slower and less generous in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria than comparable disasters in Texas and Florida. That's according to a new University of Michigan study.

Three hurricanes occurred within a period of just over a month. Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25, 2017, near Rockport, Texas. Hurrican Irma hit the Florida keys on September 10. And Maria began its sweep through Puerto Rico on September 20.

injured piggy bank
Ken Teegardin /

U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin is co-sponsoring a bill that would allow federal workers to borrow money from their retirement accounts without penalty during the partial government shutdown.

Rashida Tlaib
Rashida Tlaib for Congress Facebook page

A Republican congressman from Texas wants Democrats to block an official trip to Palestine being planned by U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib for herself and some congressional colleagues.

People who live in Adrian are raising concerns about their drinking water. Residents say they've been complaining to the city for months about the taste and smell of the water.

A group of Adrian residents has obtained independent lab results showing cyanobacteria in some drinking water samples.

But the city says its tests show the water is safe. 

prison bars
Flickr /

The Ionia City Council is considering whether to approve the sale of a former correctional facility to a private prison company to use as an immigrant detention center. Immigration Centers of America made their pitch to Ionia's City Council Tuesday night.

Rachel Kramer /

Authorities are testing surface water from the Grand River after an abandoned plating facility in Jackson was found to have high levels of PFAS chemicals. Michner Plating joins the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's list of more than two dozen industrial sites with high levels of PFAS contamination.

deer in snowy woods
Flickr user rkramer62

Ann Arbor's deer management program is in the fourth and final year of operations approved by the city council. The deer cull starts Jan. 2.

The City of Ann Arbor has updated its deer management program to allow culling of deer on private property with written consent of the owner.  Owners of neighboring properties have already been notified. The city says residents of the area can go about their normal daily activities.


Women and scientists are making gains in the Michigan legislature in the new session starting January 1. Women are going from 34 seats to 42 in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, women gain seven seats, going from four to eleven.

A silver carp laying on top of a cooler.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner declined an offer $8 million to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp. Governor Snyder offered the funds to support construction of high-tech, anti-carp features at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois.

Governor Rick Snyder
Michigan Municipal League / FLICKR -

Lawmakers sent more than 400 bills to Governor Rick Snyder during the lame-duck session. But Snyder's office will no longer be taking comments on those bills from constituents by phone or through its website.

President Donald Trump.
user Gage Skidmore / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

A partial federal government shutdown is expected beginning Saturday unless the U.S. Senate can pass a bill that includes President Trump's demand for more than $5 billion dollars in funding for a border wall. In Michigan, that would mean some federal employees will work without pay, and others could be furloughed.

michigan state capitol building
Brian Charles Watson / wikimedia commons

Eighty employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality wrote a letter asking Governor Snyder to veto a bill changing how Michigan handles hazardous substances. The group says they're concerned citizens who happen to be employees of the DEQ.

Laura D'Alessandro /

Huntington Woods has been targeted by an anti-LGBTQ group over their library's Drag Queen Storytime for children.

The program started last year as a way to provide children with queer role models. It was so popular it overflowed its original room at the library and is being held off-site. Now, an anti-LGBTQ group from Massachusetts is trying to stop storytime with a phone and email campaign.

Anders Adermark /

The Detroit Archdiocese has responded to criticism of its move to transfer property into a holding company. The church is being accused of trying to shield assets from potential lawsuits by victims of sexual abuse.