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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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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Jonathan Coleman and his son compare graphene-infused Silly Putty (left) with the unadulterated kids stuff. Naoise Culhane/Amber Center, Trinity College Dublin hide caption

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Naoise Culhane/Amber Center, Trinity College Dublin

Adding A Funny Form Of Carbon To Silly Putty Creates A Heart Monitor

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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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