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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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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Alfred Pasieka/Science Source

'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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Biomedical Imaging Unit, Southampton General Hospital/Science Source

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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Portra Images/Getty Images

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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Guidelines for cervical cancer screening have changed to allow HPV testing alone for women over 30. Science Photo Library/Getty Images hide caption

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Science Photo Library/Getty Images

For Cervical Cancer Screening, Women Over 30 Can Now Choose The HPV Test Only

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Generic Version Of The EpiPen Is Approved For Allergic Reactions

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Inducing labor at 39 weeks may involve IV medications and continuous fetal monitoring. But if the pregnancy is otherwise uncomplicated, mother and baby can do just fine, the latest evidence suggests. Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

Pregnancy Debate Revisited: To Induce Labor, Or Not?

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Lipitor, a best-seller as a cholesterol treatment, is being tested as a remedy for the flu. Mel Evans/AP hide caption

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Mel Evans/AP

Scientists Find New Tricks For Old Drugs

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Dr. Vinay Prasad is 35 and an assistant professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, where he researches health policy, the high cost of drugs and evidence-based medicine. He has more than 21,000 followers on Twitter. Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images hide caption

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Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Tweeting Oncologist Draws Ire And Admiration For Calling Out Hype

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In these two two-cell mouse embryos, the surface of the embryos is outlined in orange, the DNA in the nucleus is indicated in blue and the activity of the LINE-1 gene is indicated via bright red spots. Ramalho-Santos lab/UCSF hide caption

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Ramalho-Santos lab/UCSF

Some DNA Dismissed As 'Junk' Is Crucial To Embryo Development

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A genetic test could spare many women with a common form of breast cancer from receiving chemotherapy. SPL/Science Source hide caption

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SPL/Science Source

Doctors Scrutinize Overtreatment, As Cancer Death Rates Decline

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Katherine Streeter for NPR

When Scientists Develop Products From Personal Medical Data, Who Gets To Profit?

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