Joe Palca Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR.
Doby Photography/NPR
Joe Palca 2010
Doby Photography/NPR

Joe Palca

Correspondent, Science Desk

Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, "Joe's Big Idea." Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors.

Palca began his journalism career in television in 1982, working as a health producer for the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC. In 1986, he left television for a seven-year stint as a print journalist, first as the Washington news editor for Nature, and then as a senior correspondent for Science Magazine.

In October 2009, Palca took a six-month leave from NPR to become science writer in residence at the Huntington Library and The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Palca has won numerous awards, including the National Academies Communications Award, the Science-in-Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers, the American Chemical Society James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Prize, and the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Writing.

With Flora Lichtman, Palca is the co-author of Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us (Wiley, 2011).

He comes to journalism from a science background, having received a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz where he worked on human sleep physiology.

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Story Archive

NASA's Cassini probe has orbited Saturn for over a decade. This Friday, scientists will steer it into the gas giant's atmosphere. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini Spacecraft Prepares For A Fiery Farewell In Saturn's Atmosphere

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Lineman and Electricians train with the APA-5 Atlas Powered Ascender to recover rescue dummy prior to the onset of suspension trauma. Courtesy of Nate Ball/Atlas Devices hide caption

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Courtesy of Nate Ball/Atlas Devices

The Army, The Inventor And The Surprising Uses Of A Batman Machine

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Avi Ofer for NPR

How Moldy Hay And Sick Cows Led To A Lifesaving Drug

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Millions Will See Total Solar Eclipse Sweep Across The U.S.

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Nisian Hughes/Getty Images

New Study Highlights Strong Link Between Basic Research And Inventions

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Erik Nelson Rodriguez for NPR

Syrian Refugee And German Scientist Make An Unlikely Team

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The MD Brush toothbrush forces users to hold it at the optimal angle relative to their gums. Shuyao Chen/NPR hide caption

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Shuyao Chen/NPR

Brush Yourself Off And Try Again: An Invention Story

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Flight engineer Kate Rubins checks out the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, which is attached to the International Space Station. NASA hide caption

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NASA

After A Year In Space, The Air Hasn't Gone Out Of NASA's Inflated Module

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Mary Anderson's illustration of her 1903 patented "window cleaning device." The United States Patent and Trademark Office hide caption

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The United States Patent and Trademark Office

Alabama Woman Stuck In NYC Traffic In 1902 Invented The Windshield Wiper

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Nedal Said risked everything to rejoin the scientific community. Erik Nelson Rodriguez for NPR hide caption

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Erik Nelson Rodriguez for NPR

Web Comic: A Scientist Runs For His Life And Finds His Dream

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Artist's impression of Jupiter's Great Red Spot heating the upper atmosphere. Karen Teramura with James O'Donoghue and Luke Moore/NASA hide caption

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Karen Teramura with James O'Donoghue and Luke Moore/NASA

NASA Spacecraft Gets Up Close With Jupiter's Great Red Spot

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A composite self-portrait of the Mars Pathfinder. NASA/JPL hide caption

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NASA/JPL

Another July 4th Anniversary: Pathfinder's Landing On Mars

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A brown dwarf can give off some light, allowing scientists — professional or volunteer — to search for the object as it moves across the sky. Chuck Carter and Gregg Hallinan/Caltech/NASA hide caption

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Chuck Carter and Gregg Hallinan/Caltech/NASA

Citizen Scientists Comb Images To Find An 'Overexcited Planet'

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