Richard Harris Award-winning journalist Richard Harris reports on biomedical research for NPR's newsmagazines, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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Richard Harris 2010
Doby Photography/NPR

Richard Harris

Correspondent, Science Desk

Award-winning journalist Richard Harris has reported on a wide range of topics in science, medicine and the environment since he joined NPR in 1986. In early 2014, his focus shifted from an emphasis on climate change and the environment to biomedical research.

Harris has traveled to all seven continents for NPR. His reports have originated from Timbuktu, the South Pole, the Galapagos Islands, Beijing during the SARS epidemic, the center of Greenland, the Amazon rain forest, the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro (for a story about tuberculosis), and Japan to cover the nuclear aftermath of the 2011 tsunami.
In 2010, Harris' reporting revealed that the blown-out BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was spewing out far more oil than asserted in the official estimates. That revelation led the federal government to make a more realistic assessment of the extent of the spill.

Harris covered climate change for decades. He reported from the United Nations climate negotiations, starting with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and including Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009. Harris was a major contributor to NPR's award-winning 2007-2008 "Climate Connections" series.

Over the course of his career, Harris has been the recipient of many prestigious awards. Those include the American Geophysical Union's 2013 Presidential Citation for Science and Society. He shared the 2009 National Academy of Sciences Communication Award and was a finalist again in 2011. In 2002, Harris was elected an honorary member of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society. Harris shared a 1995 Peabody Award for investigative reporting on NPR about the tobacco industry. Since 1988, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has honored Harris three times with its science journalism award.

Before joining NPR, Harris was a science writer for the San Francisco Examiner. From 1981 to 1983, Harris was a staff writer at The Tri-Valley Herald in Livermore, California, covering science, technology, and health issues related to the nuclear weapons lab in Livermore. He started his career as an AAAS Mass Media Science Fellow at the now-defunct Washington (DC) Star.

Harris is co-founder of the Washington, D.C., Area Science Writers Association, and is past president of the National Association of Science Writers. He serves on the board of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

A California native, Harris returned to the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2012, to give a commencement address at Crown College, where he had given a valedictory address at his own graduation. He earned a bachelor's degree at the school in biology, with highest honors.

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"Everything is private information, stored on your computer or a computer you designate," says George Church, genetics professor at Harvard Medical School, about the approach of Nebula Genomics. Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The New Yorker hide caption

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A Search For New Ways To Pay For Drugs That Cost A Mint

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Cancer of the cervix is one of the most common cancers affecting women and can be fatal. Here, cervical cancer cells are dividing, as seen through a colored scanning electron micrograph. Steve Gschmeissner/Getty Images/Science Photo Library hide caption

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For Cervical Cancer Patients, Less Invasive Surgery Is Worse For Survival

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A major study published Monday finds that widely prescribed antipsychotic drugs like haloperidol are no more effective than a placebo for treating delirium. Nehru Sulejmanovski/Getty Images hide caption

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Antipsychotic Drugs Don't Ease ICU Delirium

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According to the law in most states, health care providers own patients' medical records. But federal privacy law governs how that information can be used. And whether or not you can profit from your own medical data is murky. alicemoi/Getty Images/RooM RF hide caption

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If Your Medical Information Becomes A Moneymaker, Could You Get A Cut?

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Randy and Karen O'Burke together at their son's home in Hendersonville, Tenn., last week. "Apparently, I'm pretty much of a miracle," Randy says. Morgan Hornsby for NPR hide caption

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How To Prevent Brain-Sapping Delirium In The ICU

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Richard Langford, at home in East Nashville, Tenn., still has significant trouble with mental focus and memory issues 10 years after a sudden and serious infection landed him in the hospital ICU for several weeks. Morgan Hornsby for NPR hide caption

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When ICU Delirium Leads To Symptoms Of Dementia After Discharge

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Dr. James P. Allison, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, poses for a photo in New York in 2015. Allison and Tasuku Honjo have jointly been awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology. Richard Drew/AP hide caption

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Scientists Who Sparked Revolution In Cancer Treatment Share Nobel Prize In Medicine

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2 Immunologists Win 2018 Nobel Prize In Physiology Or Medicine

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East Coast Scientists Win Patent Case Over Medical Research Technology

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It's a bacteria-eat-bacteria world, scientists say. Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, shown here in false color, attacks common germs six times its size, then devours them from the inside out. Alfred Pasieka/Science Source hide caption

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'Predatory Bacteria' Might Be Enlisted In Defense Against Antibiotic Resistance

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A tinted transmission electron micrograph of Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria (light purple/black) inside a cell. Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S., with more than 1.7 million reported cases in 2017. Biomedical Imaging Unit, Southampton General Hospital/Science Source hide caption

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Without including a "control group" of sepsis patients who get the usual mix of drugs and fluids, even a big study comparing two other experimental approaches won't deliver helpful answers, critics say. Portra Images/Getty Images hide caption

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Critics Trying To Stop A Big Study Of Sepsis Say The Research Puts Patients At Risk

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A researcher showed people a picture of The Thinker in an effort to study the link between analytical thinking and religious disbelief. In hindsight, the researcher called his study design "silly". The study could not be reproduced. Peter Barritt/Getty Images hide caption

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In Psychology And Other Social Sciences, Many Studies Fail The Reproducibility Test

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