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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Trump Administration's Efforts To Ban Most Flavored Vaping Products Have Stalled Out

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Attendees hold "We Vape, We Vote" signs ahead of a Trump rally last month in Dallas. The politics surrounding vaping and industry pushback against regulation appear to have derailed the Trump administration's plan to ban the sales of many vaping products. Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

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Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria — rod-shaped bacteria in this tinted, scanning electron microscope image — are found in soil, water and as normal flora in the human intestine. But they can cause serious wound, lung, skin and urinary tract infections, and many pseudomonas strains are drug-resistant. Science Photo Library/Science Source hide caption

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Science Photo Library/Science Source

How Best To Use The Few New Drugs To Treat Antibiotic-Resistant Germs?

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Nathaly Sweeney, a neonatologist at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and researcher with Rady Children's Institute for Genomic Medicine, attends to a young patient in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. Jenny Siegwart/Rady Children's Institute for Genomic Medicine hide caption

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Jenny Siegwart/Rady Children's Institute for Genomic Medicine

Fast DNA Sequencing Can Offer Diagnostic Clues When Newborns Need Intensive Care

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has mobilized more than 140 scientists and other staffers to investigate the causes of vaping-related lung injuries and deaths. Will & Deni McIntyre/Science Source hide caption

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Will & Deni McIntyre/Science Source

Behind The Scenes Of CDC's Vaping Investigation

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CDC Studying Tissue To Try And Track Down Root Cause Of Vaping-Related Lung Damage

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Alex, at 4 years and 11 months old, throws a toy football. Caroline Cheung-Yiu hide caption

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Caroline Cheung-Yiu

A Boy's Mysterious Illness Leads His Family On A Diagnostic Odyssey

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Jeri Seidman and her daughter Hannah lounge at their home in Charlottesville, Va. Hannah is a patient in a genetic risk study about Type 1 diabetes. Carlos Bernate for NPR hide caption

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Carlos Bernate for NPR

An Experimental Genetic Test Gives Early Warning For Kids At Risk Of Type 1 Diabetes

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3 Physician-Scientists Will Share 2019 Nobel Prize For Physiology Or Medicine

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3 Scientists Win Nobel Prize In Physiology Or Medicine

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Pharmacies Pull Zantac Over Concern That Contaminant Poses Cancer Risk

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CDC Zeroing In On THC-Based Vaping Products As A Major Source Of Lung Injuries

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FDA Sends Warning Letter To Vaping Company Juul

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UK Biobank has granted 10,000 qualified scientists access to its large database of genetic sequences and other medical data, but other organizations with databases have been far more restrictive in giving access. KTSDESIGN/Getty Images/Science Photo Library hide caption

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How Should Scientists' Access To Health Databanks Be Managed?

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