Joe Palca 2010 i 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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Larkin Carey, an optical engineer with Ball Aerospace, examines two test mirror segments designed for the James Webb Space Telescope. The mirror for the scope is extremely powerful, but heavy and pricey. NASA hide caption

itoggle caption NASA

A blast from the past: Using data from four telescopes, NASA created this image of the first documented sighting of a supernova, made by Chinese astronomers in 185 A.D. NASA/JPL-Caltech/B. Williams hide caption

itoggle caption NASA/JPL-Caltech/B. Williams

Norma Melendez, a community health worker with City Health Works, walks along Second Avenue on her way to meet a client. City Health Works is an organization that is attempting to bring an African model of health care delivery to the United States. Bryan Thomas for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Bryan Thomas for NPR

Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory say their new genetic toolkit to improve tomato yield without compromising flavor can be used in all varieties, from plum to cherry. Courtesy of Zach Lippman/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Zach Lippman/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues found an enzyme in bacteria that makes editing DNA in animal cells much easier. Cailey Cotner/UC Berkeley hide caption

itoggle caption Cailey Cotner/UC Berkeley

All folded up and ready to magnify: The Foldscope weighs less than two nickels, is small enough to fit in your back pocket and offers more than 2,000-fold magnification. TED/YouTube hide caption

itoggle caption TED/YouTube