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

Nobel Prize Came Quickly For 3 Physicists Who Discovered Gravitational Waves

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Left to Right: Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne, who won the Nobel Physics Prize 2017 for gravitational waves, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced October 3, 2017 in Stockholm. Molly Riley/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Molly Riley/AFP/Getty Images

3 Americans Win 2017 Nobel Prize In Physics

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Dola Sun for NPR

Breakthrough Pain Treatment Or Snake Oil? You Decide.

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An artist's depiction of two black holes colliding. NASA hide caption

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NASA

Gravitational Wave Detector In Italy Saw Wave Pass Through Earth In August

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An artist's depiction of Planet Nine. The object is thought to be gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune. Hypothetical lightning lights up the night side. Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC) hide caption

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Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)

Astronomers Search For Giant Planet On Outer Edges Of Solar System

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Artist's concept of Cassini diving between Saturn and its innermost ring. NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech

Cassini Plunges To Saturn

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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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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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