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Richard Harris 2010
Doby Photography/NPR

Richard Harris

Correspondent, Science Desk

Award-winning journalist Richard Harris has reported on a wide range of topics in science, medicine and the environment since he joined NPR in 1986. In early 2014, his focus shifted from an emphasis on climate change and the environment to biomedical research.

Harris has traveled to all seven continents for NPR. His reports have originated from Timbuktu, the South Pole, the Galapagos Islands, Beijing during the SARS epidemic, the center of Greenland, the Amazon rain forest, the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro (for a story about tuberculosis), and Japan to cover the nuclear aftermath of the 2011 tsunami.
In 2010, Harris' reporting revealed that the blown-out BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was spewing out far more oil than asserted in the official estimates. That revelation led the federal government to make a more realistic assessment of the extent of the spill.

Harris covered climate change for decades. He reported from the United Nations climate negotiations, starting with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and including Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009. Harris was a major contributor to NPR's award-winning 2007-2008 "Climate Connections" series.

Over the course of his career, Harris has been the recipient of many prestigious awards. Those include the American Geophysical Union's 2013 Presidential Citation for Science and Society. He shared the 2009 National Academy of Sciences Communication Award and was a finalist again in 2011. In 2002, Harris was elected an honorary member of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society. Harris shared a 1995 Peabody Award for investigative reporting on NPR about the tobacco industry. Since 1988, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has honored Harris three times with its science journalism award.

Before joining NPR, Harris was a science writer for the San Francisco Examiner. From 1981 to 1983, Harris was a staff writer at The Tri-Valley Herald in Livermore, California, covering science, technology, and health issues related to the nuclear weapons lab in Livermore. He started his career as an AAAS Mass Media Science Fellow at the now-defunct Washington (DC) Star.

Harris is co-founder of the Washington, D.C., Area Science Writers Association, and is past president of the National Association of Science Writers. He serves on the board of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

A California native, Harris returned to the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2012, to give a commencement address at Crown College, where he had given a valedictory address at his own graduation. He earned a bachelor's degree at the school in biology, with highest honors.

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Michelle Flandez's son Inti Perez — pictured at home in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, in 2016 — was born with microcephaly linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Carlos Giusti/AP hide caption

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A 4-year-old regulation in New York state requires doctors and hospitals to treat sepsis using a protocol that some researchers now question. Getty Images/iStockphoto hide caption

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Are State Rules For Treating Sepsis Really Saving Lives?

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Turns out humans are better at smelling than you might think. CSA Images/ Color Printstock Col/Vetta/Getty Images hide caption

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Why Your Sense Of Smell Is Better Than You Might Think

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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says the risks of screening for thyroid cancer in people without symptoms outweigh the benefits. kaisersosa67/Getty Images hide caption

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Don't Screen For Thyroid Cancer, Task Force Says

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Stories of outright misconduct are rare in science. But the pressures on researchers manifest in many more subtle ways, say social scientists studying the problem. Eva Bee/Getty Images hide caption

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How A Budget Squeeze Can Lead To Sloppy Science And Even Cheating

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The new report from leading U.S. scientists shines a spotlight on how the research enterprise as a whole creates incentives that can be detrimental to good research. Robert Essel NYC/Getty Images hide caption

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Top Scientists Revamp Standards To Foster Integrity In Research

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Drugs That Work In Mice Often Fail When Tried In People

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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray reads a statement to media members Friday, in Seattle. A lawsuit filed Thursday accuses Murray of sexually molesting a teenage high-school dropout in the 1980s. Elaine Thompson/AP hide caption

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A well-regarded intensive care doctor in Virginia says he has had good success in treating 150 sepsis patients with a mix of IV corticosteroids, vitamin C and vitamin B, along with careful management of fluids. Other doctors want more proof — the sort that comes only via more rigorous tests. Sukiyashi/Getty Images/iStockphoto hide caption

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Why The Newly Proposed Sepsis Treatment Needs More Study

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Nearly two-thirds of cell mutations that cause cancer are caused by random error, a study found. Steve Gschmeissner/Science Source hide caption

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Cancer Is Partly Caused By Bad Luck, Study Finds

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Of the million or so Americans a year who get sepsis, roughly 300,000 die. Unfortunately, many treatments for the condition have looked promising in small, preliminary studies, only to fail in follow-up research. Reptile8488/Getty Images/iStockphoto hide caption

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Doctor Turns Up Possible Treatment For Deadly Sepsis

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Sometimes fast-acting chemotherapy can help slow an aggressive cancer — and give the slower-acting immunotherapies a chance to work. UIG Platinum/UIG via Getty Images hide caption

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Old-Style Chemo Is Still A Mainstay In The Age Of Targeted Cancer Therapy

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