Joe Palca 2010 i
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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Joe Palca (left) with Jim Allison (second from right) and friends, circa 1975. Allison has gone on to make landmark discoveries in science, and is still passionate about outlaw country music. Joe Palca/NPR hide caption

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Jim Allison in his lab at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Scott Dalton for NPR hide caption

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A Scientist's Dream Fulfilled: Harnessing The Immune System To Fight Cancer

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Drs. Tessa Hill and Jessica Hellmann Morgan McCloy/NPR hide caption

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Click Below To Listen

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Sgt. Jessie Bacon uses the Tactical Communications and Protective System to relay information to his squad in Fort Bliss, Texas. About 20,000 of the devices have been deployed so far. Sgt. Betty Boomer/U.S. Army hide caption

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Army's Smart Earplug Damps Explosive Noise, But Can Enhance Whispers

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Sir Harold W. Kroto, a winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, gave a lecture on nanoarchitecture in May 2007, in Brussels. "Find something to do where only your best effort will satisfy you," he advised students. Sebastien Pirlet/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Listen: Sir Harry Kroto Was More Than A Nobel Prize Winner

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Zhenan Bao, a chemical engineer at Stanford University, is working to invent an artificial skin from plastic that can sense, heal and power itself. The thin plastic sheets are made with built-in pressure sensors. Bao Research Group hide caption

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Just Like Human Skin, This Plastic Sheet Can Sense And Heal

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An artist's rendering of the BEAM inflatable annex attached to the side of the International Space Station. Courtesy of Bigelow Aerospace hide caption

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NASA To Test Inflatable Room For Astronauts In Space

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Standing water and abandoned tires make Houston's Fifth Ward hospitable for mosquitoes. Courtesy of Anna Grove Photography hide caption

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Houston Prepares Now For Zika's Potential Arrival This Summer

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CSIRO's Australia Telescope Compact Array at the Paul Wild Observatory. Alex Cherney hide caption

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In A Far-Off Galaxy, A Clue To What's Causing Strange Bursts Of Radio Waves

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An artist's rendering shows gas falling into a supermassive black hole, creating a quasar. Dana Berry/SkyWorks Digital; SDSS collaboration hide caption

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Solving The Mystery Of The Disappearing Quasar

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Rice University's FlatCam is thinner than a dime. Jeff Fitlow/Rice University hide caption

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Bulky Cameras, Meet The Lens-less FlatCam

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