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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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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Mohammad Al Abdallah, the executive director of the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre, shows a video that was posted to YouTube of illegal cluster bombing in Syria. Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

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Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Activists Build Human Rights Abuse Cases With Help From Cellphone Videos

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This image shows Jupiter's south pole, as seen by NASA's Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles. The oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles in diameter. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles

Juno Spacecraft Reveals Spectacular Cyclones At Jupiter's Poles

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March For Science Organizers Work To Maintain Non-Partisan Position

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An artist's concept shows the WISE spacecraft in its orbit around Earth. NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech

Have Spare Time? Try To Discover A Planet

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Carmen Bachmann founded "Chance for Science," a website that connects refugee academics with scientists working in Germany. Thomas Victor for NPR hide caption

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Thomas Victor for NPR

While Others Saw Refugees, This German Professor Saw Human Potential

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Hanan Isweiri is a Ph.D. student at Colorado State University. She flew to Libya in January to visit with family after her father's death. She was able to re-enter the U.S. Saturday. Courtesy of Colorado State University hide caption

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Courtesy of Colorado State University

Travel Ban Keeps Scientists Out Of The Lab

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Researchers from the Max Planck Institute excavate the East Gallery of Denisova Cave in Siberia in August 2010. With ancient bone fragments so hard to come by, being able to successfully filter dirt for the DNA of extinct human ancestors can open new doors, research-wise. Bence Viola/Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology hide caption

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Bence Viola/Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Dust To Dust: Scientists Find DNA Of Human Ancestors In Cave Floor Dirt

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Having volunteers who are learning German answer questions about grammar and semantics of the language while inside an MRI machine might show particular patterns in brain changes, researchers say. They hope their study could offer clues to how the brain best learns a second language. selimaksan/Getty Images hide caption

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selimaksan/Getty Images

Learning German In The Name Of Science And Cross-Cultural Collaboration

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Astronomers searching for an undiscovered planet in the outer solar system hope to catch a glimpse of it Thursday through the Subaru Telescope located on top of Hawaii's Mauna Kea mountain. Courtesy of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan hide caption

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Courtesy of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Astronomers Seeking Planet 9 Hope To Soon Catch A Glimpse

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