WBUR Staff

Deborah Becker

Host/Reporter, WBUR

Deborah Becker is a Senior Correspondent and Host at WBUR.  Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.

Deb is also a substitute host on several WBUR programs and helps produce and report for various WBUR special projects. Deb also worked on the launch of WRNI, Rhode Island’s NPR News Station, where she served as Morning Edition host and host of the weekly show “Focus Rhode Island.”  Before coming to WBUR, she worked at Monitor Radio, the broadcast arm of The Christian Science Monitor newspaper. She also worked at several Boston area radio stations. Deb has received numerous awards for her hosting, newscasts, reporting, and investigative reporting from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTNDA), Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, National Education Writers Association, Associated Press, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Parent/Professional Advocacy League and United Press International. She has also completed several fellowships on addiction, mental health, juvenile justice and journalism and the law.

Deb studied journalism at St. Bonaventure University. She lives with her family in central Massachusetts.

Recent stories

Next Steps In Tsarnaev Case: Mass. Attorney On What’s To Come

May 18, 2015

Northampton Attorney David Hoose, who successfully argued to spare the life of a nurse convicted of fatally poisoning VA patients, talks about the appeal process in death penalty cases.

Attorney Talks On Process Behind Tsarnaev Jurors’ Deliberations

May 15, 2015

The jury in the case of convicted marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev today enters the second full day of deliberations on whether Tsarnaev should be sentenced to death or imprisoned for the rest of his life.

New Boston School Chief: District Should Partner With Private Organizations

May 14, 2015
Incoming Superintendent Tommy Chang listens to the Boston International High School headmaster Nicole Bahnam on Wednesday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Incoming Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang joined WBUR Thursday morning to talk about his vision.

Family Of Patient Who Died At Bridgewater Hospital Calls On Healey To Investigate Plymouth DA

May 13, 2015

Newly released testimony from a judicial review of Joshua Messier’s 2009 death quotes a state medical examiner as saying that Plymouth DA Timothy Cruz misrepresented her comments about Messier’s death.

Expert Talks Influence Of Sports Culture In Wake Of ‘Deflate-Gate’

May 13, 2015
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady speaks during an event at Salem State University last week. (Charles Krupa/AP/Pool)

Dan Lebowitz, the executive director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University, analyzes what all the coverage surrounding the Patriots’ under-inflated balls says about society’s culture.

Colleges Work To Prevent Suicide And Fight Stigma Around Mental Health On Campus

May 11, 2015
A training session for WPI’s Student Support Network. The group has more than 400 members, trained and known around campus for their ability to intervene and help students dealing with mental health issues. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

With suicide the second-leading cause of death for people of college age, many schools are trying to determine what additional steps they can take to try prevent suicide among students.

Sudders: State Seeks To Use New Data To Ease Opioid Crisis

April 29, 2015
Marylou Sudders (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The state secretary of health and human services discusses steps officials are taking to improve treatments for opioid addiction following a report that more than 1,000 people died last year from overdoses.

The Defense Perspective On The Tsarnaev Penalty Phase

April 27, 2015

Persuading a jury that life in prison is a more just sentence was a challenge also faced by Northampton lawyer David Hoose.

A 123-Year-Old Women’s Club Keeps Tradition Alive Over Tea In Stockbridge

April 21, 2015
Tuesday Club members Alice Wilmont (left) and Karen Fulco (right) prepare tea and traditional tea sandwiches. (Shannon Dooling/WBUR)

A social networking group that began in 1892 is still meeting today, with its members still gathering face-to-face over formal tea.

DYS Facility In Boston Closed Over Allegations Staff Mistreated Youth

April 01, 2015
The Long Island Bridge (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A state program on Boston’s Long Island that housed 14- to 19-year-old males sent there by juvenile courts closed in August amid allegations workers mistreated the young clients.

Writing To Heal From Trauma: Women Pen Memoirs With Help From Michael Patrick MacDonald

March 27, 2015
Four of the women who took part in the "Close to Home" memoirs project, including Jennifer McCall, left. (Courtesy Crittenton Women's Union/Richard Howard Photography)

A program at Crittenton Women’s Union in Boston is helping women write their own memoirs as a form of healing.

Attorney Paul Ware Talks Possible Renewed Investigation Into Probation Hiring Scheme

March 26, 2015

Former Massachusetts Probation Commissioner John O’Brien reportedly is being pressured to testify before a grand jury into what appears to be a renewed investigation into whether politicians took part in the hiring scheme he faces an 18-month prison sentence for running.

Cambridge Choir School Charting High With Christmas CD

December 23, 2014
Practice at St. Paul’s Choir School (Courtesy of AimHigher Recordings)

“Christmas In Harvard Square,” by the St. Paul’s Choir School, is near the top of the classical Billboard chart.

‘Selma’ Is About ‘The Power Of Voice,’ Director Ava DuVernay Says

December 10, 2014
This photo released by Paramount Pictures shows David Oyelowo, center, as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Carmen Ejogo, right, as Coretta Scott King in the film, "Selma." (Atsushi Nishijima/Paramount Pictures)

In 1965 in Selma, Alabama, news cameras captured police using tear gas and billy clubs on civil rights demonstrators. Now that story is being told on the big screen for the first time.

Baker Taps Marylou Sudders To Lead Health And Human Services Department

November 21, 2014
Marylou Sudders (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Several groups are praising his choice, citing Sudders’ work as the former state mental health commissioner and former head of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

New MGH-MIT Partnership Marries Medicine And Tech

November 19, 2014
MIT graduate student Matthew Li, MIT engineering professor Michael Cima, and MGH nephrologist Dr. Herbert Lin with the portable device they’re developing to measure hydration state and blood volume using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

MIT and MGH are partnering with the goal of developing better technologies and methods to diagnose and treat disease.

UMass Medical School Sending Team To Fight Ebola In Liberia

November 10, 2014
Dr. Rick Sacra, a UMass Medical School faculty member who contracted the Ebola virus in Liberia, walks out of a media availability with Chancellor Michael Collins Sept. 4 in Worcester. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

The school recently received a $7.5 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to send doctors and nurses to help care for Ebola patients and reopen health care facilities.

Study Raises Questions About Military Service Causing Chronic Suicidal Tendencies

October 23, 2014

A new study commissioned by the U.S. Army has found that the mental health of soldiers isn’t as different from civilians as the researchers previously thought.

Surgeon General Nominee Murthy Loses Support Of Key Backers

October 22, 2014
Dr. Vivek Murthy is an internist at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His nomination for U.S. surgeon general has stalled, largely due to his advocacy of gun control. (Charles Dharapak/AP/File)

One of the country’s leading medical journals is withdrawing support for a Brigham and Women’s Hospital physician President Obama nominated to become the next surgeon general.

Listen: MGH Chief Of Infectious Disease Discusses Ebola Preparedness

October 16, 2014

How prepared is Massachusetts for Ebola? That was the question during a hearing at the State House Thursday.

It’s Not Business As Usual In Ferguson, Missouri

August 26, 2014
Ferguson police are visiting businesses in an effort to communicate more. (Deborah Becker)

From barber shops to bike shops, WBUR’s Deborah Becker looks at what the protests have meant for businesses.

As Mass. Lawmakers Take Up Addiction Bill, What’s Most Effective Treatment?

July 29, 2014
Hydrocodone pills, also known as Vicodin. (Toby Talbot/AP)

As Massachusetts lawmakers take up the $20 million bill aimed at addressing the state’s opioid crisis, questions about the best treatments remain.

How Addiction Can Affect Brain Connections

July 10, 2014
Untitled-1

A growing body of research shows that addiction is a complex brain disease that affects people differently. But the research also raises hopes about potential treatments.

Could Medical Marijuana Help Stem The Opiate Addiction Crisis?

June 11, 2014
medical marijuana sign

Marijuana is touted as a treatment for chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and anxiety — and some say it may be a way to help alleviate Massachusetts’ opiate crisis. But that idea is causing some tension in the addiction treatment community.

Dookhan Was Drug Lab’s ‘Sole Bad Actor,’ Report Says

March 04, 2014
Annie Dookhan, in late 2012 (Steven Senne, Pool/AP)

“However … deficiencies at the Drug Lab created an atmosphere that allowed for [Annie] Dookhan to commit her crimes,” the state inspector general wrote in his review.

Boston Doctor Chosen For New National Effort To Reform Forensic Testing

February 21, 2014

With the Massachusetts Inspector General expected to release his report on the state drug lab crisis any day now, a local doctor is part of a new national effort to reform forensic testing.

How Mass. Should Deal With Convictions Affected By Dookhan

January 10, 2014
Annie Dookhan leaves Suffolk Superior Court after being arraigned Dec. 20, 2012. (Joe Spurr/WBUR)

Matt Segal of the Massachusetts ACLU discusses the criminal cases that linger as the state investigates the drug lab scandal.

ACLU Asks Mass. High Court For ‘Comprehensive Remedy’ For Drug Lab Cases

January 09, 2014

The court is again being asked for guidance on how to deal with criminal convictions thrown into question by the state drug lab crisis.

Forensic Testing A Problem In Several States

December 31, 2013

Congress could take up legislation in 2014 aimed at improving oversight of the nation’s crime labs. Critics say lawmakers need to take action after several lab scandals.

Reviewing The Annie Dookhan Drug Lab Crisis

December 26, 2013

WBUR’s Deborah Becker, who has been reporting on the drug lab scandal all year, looks back on the case and at the unresolved legal ramifications of chemist Annie Dookhan’s actions.

Dookhan’s Lawyer: She Had A ‘Lapse In Judgment’

November 29, 2013

Convicted former chemist Annie Dookhan has never spoken publicly about the drug lab crisis. We speak with her lawyer, now that she’s in prison.

Forensic Testing Questions Remain After Dookhan Sentence

November 23, 2013

Former chemist Annie Dookhan began her first full day in prison Saturday, but lingering questions persist about state oversight of forensic testing.

Dookhan Pleads Guilty, Gets 3-5 Years In Prison

November 22, 2013
Annie Dookhan, in late 2012 (Steven Senne, Pool/AP)

Disgraced former state chemist Annie Dookhan is on her way to prison for a drug lab crisis that’s created turmoil throughout the Massachusetts criminal justice system.

Date Set For Dookhan To Change Plea

October 29, 2013

A former state chemist is expected to plead guilty to charges of falsifying thousands of drug tests and throwing the entire Massachusetts criminal justice system into a tailspin.

Portraits Of Boston: A Different Way To See Strangers

August 09, 2013
portraits of boston

Photographer Ivan Velinov says he looks for interesting Bostonians who look open to sharing their stories on his blog Portraits of Boston.

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