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

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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 Star in DC.

Harris is co-founder of the Washington, DC, 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.

Harris' book Rigor Mortis was published in 2017. The book covers the biomedicine "reproducibility crisis" — many studies can't be reproduced in other labs, often due to lack of rigor, hence the book's title. Rigor Mortis was a finalist for the 2018 National Academy of Sciences/Keck Communication Award.

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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Google is looking to artificial intelligence as a way to make a mark in health care. Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

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Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Google Searches For Ways To Put Artificial Intelligence To Use In Health Care

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Gene Therapy Advances To Better Treat 'Bubble Boy' Disease

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Courtesy of IDx

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Hepatitis C Not A Barrier For Organ Transplantation, Study Finds

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Amir Kiani (from left), Chloe O'Connell and Nishit Asnani troubleshoot an algorithm to diagnose tuberculosis in computer lab at Stanford University. Richard Harris/NPR hide caption

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Richard Harris/NPR

How Can Doctors Be Sure A Self-Taught Computer Is Making The Right Diagnosis?

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"The optimist in me says in three years we can train this tool to read mammograms as well as an average radiologist," says Connie Lehman, chief of breast imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Kayana Szymczak for NPR hide caption

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Kayana Szymczak for NPR

Training A Computer To Read Mammograms As Well As A Doctor

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Statisticians say it may not be wise to put all your eggs in the significance basket. intraprese/Getty Images hide caption

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Statisticians' Call To Arms: Reject Significance And Embrace Uncertainty!

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Overlooked Ingredients In Medicines Can Sometimes Trigger Side Effects

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Science Source

Bone Marrow Transplant Renders Second Patient Free Of HIV

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A British study found that people who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking were more successful than those who tried nicotine patches and gum. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images hide caption

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Study Found Vaping Beat Traditional Smoking-Cessation Options

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A study found that parachutes were no more effective than empty backpacks at protecting jumpers from aircraft. There was just one catch. Michael Htten/EyeEm/Getty Images hide caption

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Researchers Show Parachutes Don't Work, But There's A Catch

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Vitamin Treatment For Sepsis Is Put To The Test

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Atorvastatin, the generic form of Lipitor, can reduce the chances of heart attacks and strokes in people at risk. Side effects, such as muscle pain, are uncommon but should be part of the conversation about starting the medicines, a study concludes. Visuals Unlimited/Getty Images/Visuals Unlimited hide caption

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Before Starting A Statin, Talk It Over With Your Doctor

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