Richard Harris 2010
Doby Photography/NPR
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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Study Of Breast Cancer Treatment Reveals Paradox Of Precision Medicine

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Scientists with the international scientific collaboration known as the "Walk Again Project" use noninvasive brain-machine interfaces in their efforts to reawaken damaged fibers in the spinal cord. AASDAP and Lente Viva Filmes, São Paulo, Brazil/Nature hide caption

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Medical Studies Involving Children Often Go Unpublished

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Low-carb diet or low-fat one? Either diet will trigger the body to burn off fat, a new study finds. Mahafreen H. Mistry/NPR hide caption

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You Don't Need To Go Low-Carb To Burn Body Fat, Study Says

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We all get by better with a little help from our tunes. iStockphoto hide caption

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Sutures With A Soundtrack: Music Can Ease Pain, Anxiety Of Surgery

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Parents of children who are extremely finicky may find it useful to seek help, psychologists say, because some kids won't outgrow the behavior on their own. But don't make the table a battlefield. Chad Springer/Corbis hide caption

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Could Your Child's Picky Eating Be A Sign Of Depression?

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When A Child's Picky Eating Becomes More Than A Nuisance

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A Yale University study analyzed the experience of 60 million Americans covered by traditional Medicare between 1999 and 2013, and found "jaw-dropping improvements in almost every area," the lead author says. Ann Cutting/Getty Images hide caption

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Happy 50th Birthday, Medicare. Your Patients Are Getting Healthier

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For best quality of life, many cancer patients who can't be cured might do best to forgo chemo and focus instead on pain relief and easing sleep and mood problems, a survey of caregivers suggests. iStockphoto hide caption

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What If Chemo Doesn't Help You Live Longer Or Better?

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National Institutes of Health funding has been flat for years. iStockphoto hide caption

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Bill To Boost Medical Research Comes With A Catch

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