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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Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

Harvested Antibodies Now Being Tested As A Prevention Tool Against COVID-19

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Researchers have been investigating how long antibodies to the coronavirus last in people who have recovered from infections. Simon Dawson/Pool via AP hide caption

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Simon Dawson/Pool via AP

How Long Will Immunity To The Coronavirus Last?

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Dr. Glenn Lopez administered a standard test for the coronavirus to Daniel Contreras at a mobile clinic in South Los Angeles last week. Though highly accurate, such tests can take days or more to process. Mario Tama/Getty Images hide caption

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Rapid, Cheap, Less Accurate Coronavirus Testing Has A Place, Scientists Say

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Developments Are Encouraging In Race To Find Coronavirus Vaccine

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U.K. And China Report Preliminary Success Of Experimental Coronavirus Vaccines

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Scientists Discover Enzyme That Could Result In A Drug Substitute For Exercise

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Spike In Coronavirus Cases Overwhelms Testing Labs Across The U.S.

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A researcher at Peking University's Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics conducts tests on May 14. Scientists are confronting their biases and learning to engage with science from places they're unfamiliar with. Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

The Pandemic Is Pushing Scientists To Rethink How They Read Research Papers

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Specimens collected from multiple people can be combined into one batch to test for the coronavirus. A negative result would clear all the specimens. Nati Harnik/AP hide caption

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Nati Harnik/AP

Pooling Coronavirus Tests Can Spare Scarce Supplies, But There's A Catch

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White House Coronavirus Task Force Meets Again Amid Dramatic Coronavirus Case Surge

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The White House Coronavirus Task Force Gives Its 1st Public Briefing In Months

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CDC Says Real Coronavirus Cases Number Might Be Much Higher Than The Official One

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