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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In an update on COVID-19 Wednesday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer discussed the state's efforts to expand the use of monoclonal antibody therapy to help those diagnosed with COVID-19 avoid hospitalization. Michigan Office of the Governor/AP hide caption

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Antibody Drugs For COVID-19 Are A Cumbersome Tool Against Surges

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'Monoclonal Antibodies' Can Keep Coronavirus In Check, But Won't Stem Michigan Surge

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Deaths from COVID-19 are often due to the immune system overreacting to the coronavirus. New drugs to suppress that reaction are showing promise, say researchers. Westend61/Getty Images hide caption

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Drugs Targeting Immune Response To COVID-19 Show Promise

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Sonia Sein with her surgeons and ICU team at The Mount Sinai Hospital. Claudia Paul/Mount Sinai Health System hide caption

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Woman Gets New Windpipe In Groundbreaking Transplant Surgery

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Drugs Targeting Immune Response To COVID-19 Show Promise

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Bad Batch Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccines Sets Back Production

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Vaccinated College Students Will Help Answer Critical Question About COVID Spread

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AstraZeneca's Latest Report Supports Effectiveness Of COVID-19 Vaccine

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Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic antibiotics were frequently prescribed to seriously ill patients, even though the disease is caused by a virus. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

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Antibiotic Use Ran High In Early Days Of COVID-19, Despite Viral Cause

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Melissa Cruz elevates her arm after donating COVID-19 convalescent plasma in April 2020 as phlebotomist Jenee Wilson shuts down the collection equipment at Bloodworks Northwest in Seattle. Karen Ducey/Getty Images hide caption

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Convalescent Plasma Strikes Out As COVID-19 Treatment

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A health care worker draws a dose of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe for an immunization event in the parking lot of the L.A. Mission on Feb. 24. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Could A Single-Dose Of COVID-19 Vaccine After Illness Stretch The Supply?

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Sepsis, which is sometimes called blood poisoning, is essentially the body's overreaction to an infection. Kateryna Kon/Science Source hide caption

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Vitamin C Fails Again As Treatment For Sepsis

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Vitamin C Apparently Not Useful For Sepsis After All

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Leyda Valentine, a research coordinator, takes blood from Lisa Taylor as she participates in a COVID-19 vaccination study at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Fla., in August 2020. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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Long-Term Studies Of COVID-19 Vaccines Hurt By Placebo Recipients Getting Immunized

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