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 forScience 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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The huge sun shield of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope must be carefully folded to fit into a space about the size of a school bus before takeoff. Chris Gunn/NASA hide caption

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Chris Gunn/NASA

Some Assembly Required: New Space Telescope Will Take Shape After Launch

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Asteroids regularly pass by Earth, as depicted here. A new NASA system called Scout aims to identify the ones that will come closest to the planet. P. Carril/ESA hide caption

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P. Carril/ESA

NASA's New 'Intruder Alert' System Spots An Incoming Asteroid

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The Dark Energy Camera, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy to make a map of distant galaxies, is mounted on the Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in the Chilean Andes. Reidar Hahn/Courtesy of The Dark Energy Survey hide caption

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Reidar Hahn/Courtesy of The Dark Energy Survey

A Friend For Pluto: Astronomers Find New Dwarf Planet In Our Solar System

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A molecular biologist is studying how excess sugar might alter brain chemistry, leading to overeating and eventually, obesity. Veronica Grech/Ikon Images/Getty Images hide caption

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Veronica Grech/Ikon Images/Getty Images

This Scientist Is Trying To Unravel What Sugar Does To The Brain

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A single trip on the Morgantown, W.Va., PRT costs just 50 cents — and is free for students. The system provides about 15,000 rides a day (and double that when WVU has a home game). Joanne C. Sullivan/Flickr hide caption

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Joanne C. Sullivan/Flickr

A Revolution That Didn't Happen: Personal Rapid Transit

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Alex Longo makes a pitch at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, in October 2015. The Institute sponsored the conference to pick a landing site for the first human landing on Mars. Long has proposed a site for a different mission — a rover landing. Bill Ingalls/NASA hide caption

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Bill Ingalls/NASA

A Teen Might Pick The Landing Site For NASA's Next Mars Rover

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NASA's Juno spacecraft captured this view on Aug. 27 as it closed in on Jupiter's north pole, about two hours before the probe's nearest approach. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

NASA Probe Takes First-Ever Close-Up Images Of Jupiter's North Pole

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The Japanese Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii has the right attributes for searching for Planet Nine. National Astronomical Observatory of Japan hide caption

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National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Astronomers Are On A Celestial Treasure Hunt. The Prize? Planet Nine

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Christian Choe, Zach Rosenthal, and Maria Filsinger Interrante, who call themselves Team Lyseia, strategize about experiments to test their new antibiotics. Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News /Courtesy of Stanford University hide caption

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Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News /Courtesy of Stanford University

Young Inventors Work On Secret Proteins To Thwart Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

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The same word is used to describe light, a lively sea, or a ripple in the fabric of space-time. What's in a wave? Photo illustration by Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

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Photo illustration by Meredith Rizzo/NPR

How A Wave Is Unlike An Armadillo: One Reporter's Summer Puzzle

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Team Of Researchers Dig Up New Compound In An Unlikely Spot: Our Noses

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This illustration show's NASA's Juno mission approaching Jupiter. Juno used distant stars to chart its course across the void. NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech

'Star Trackers' Help Juno Find Its Way

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Launched from Earth in 2011, the Juno space probe has nearly reached Jupiter. If all goes as hoped, the probe will repeatedly dive between the planet and intense belts of charged particle radiation, in an orbit that will take it from pole to pole. JPL/NASA hide caption

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JPL/NASA

Juno Space Probe Is Set To Enter Jupiter's Orbit On Monday

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