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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Steve Gschmeissner/Science Source

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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UIG Platinum/UIG via Getty Images

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

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This computer-enhanced barium contrast X-ray shows colon cancer in red. Researchers have been trying to figure out what looks to be a decade-long rise in colon cancer among people younger than 50. Scott Camazine/Science Source hide caption

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Scott Camazine/Science Source

Nancy Roach at a conference in 2016. She's long worked as a patient's advocate and recently teamed up with scientists to help improve the design of studies, as well as to improve clinical care. Andrew Wortmann/Courtesy of Fight Colorectal Cancer hide caption

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Andrew Wortmann/Courtesy of Fight Colorectal Cancer

Advice From Patients On A Study's Design Makes For Better Science

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Anemic patients did not know about their condition during a testosterone trial. Renphoto/Getty Images hide caption

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Renphoto/Getty Images

Researchers Failed To Tell Testosterone Trial Patients They Were Anemic

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Biotechnologist Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute (a joint venture of MIT and Harvard University) was awarded a patent for CRISPR gene-editing technology in 2014. But two other scientists — Jennifer Doudna, of the University of California, Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, then of the University of Vienna — published their description of the underlying biology first. Susan Walsh/AP hide caption

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Susan Walsh/AP

Broad Institute Wins Big Battle Over CRISPR Gene-Editing Patent

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About a quarter of people between the ages of 20 and 69 have some hearing loss, typically from everyday noises like lawn mowers and music. vitranc/Getty Images/iStockphoto hide caption

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Think Your Hearing's Great? You Might Want To Check It Out

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The hemoglobin A1C test for blood sugar, a standard assay for diabetes, may not perform as well in people with sickle cell trait, a study finds. fotostorm/Getty Images/iStockphoto hide caption

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The A1C Blood Sugar Test May Be Less Accurate In African-Americans

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Which Genes Make You Taller? A Whole Bunch Of Them, It Turns Out

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A color-enhanced spiral CT image of the chest shows a large cancerous mass (in yellow) in the left upper lobe. Medical Body Scans/Science Source hide caption

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Medical Body Scans/Science Source

Lung Cancer Screening Program Finds A Lot That's Not Cancer

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Research with living systems is never simple, scientists say, so there are many possible sources of variation in any experiment, ranging from the animals and cells to the details of lab technique. Tom Werner/Getty Images hide caption

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Tom Werner/Getty Images

What Does It Mean When Cancer Findings Can't Be Reproduced?

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Study Reveals Potential Conflict Of Interest In Patient Advocacy Funding

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