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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Niticia Mpanga, a registered respiratory therapist, checks on an ICU patient at Oakbend Medical Center in Richmond, Texas. The mortality rates from COVID-19 in ICUs have been decreasing worldwide, doctors say, at least partly because of recent advances in treatment. Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

Advances In ICU Care Are Saving More Patients Who Have COVID-19

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English coronavirus patients George Gilbert, 85, and his wife, Domneva Gilbert, 84, were part of a clinical trial that included Eli Lilly & Co.'s baricitinib. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP hide caption

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Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Experimental Medicines For COVID-19 Could Help Someday, But Home Runs Not Guaranteed

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COVID-19 Medications Are In Development, But A True Cure Would Likely Take Years

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Studies of steroids, including the generic drug dexamethasone, have found that these drugs can reduce deaths in patients hospitalized with serious cases of COVID-19. Photo Illustration by Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images hide caption

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Photo Illustration by Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Inexpensive Steroids Can Save Lives Of Seriously Ill COVID-19 Patients

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Corticosteroids Can Be Used In COVID-19 Treatment, New Studies Show

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Public Health Authorities Face Credibility Crisis

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Testing contacts of those with confirmed cases of the coronavirus is a common public health practice. New CDC guidelines make it optional. David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images hide caption

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David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

CDC Changes Testing Guidelines To Exclude People With No COVID-19 Symptoms

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Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn drew a hailstorm of criticism from scientists this week for mischaracterizing a study's findings in a way that hyped the benefits of convalescent plasma. He later apologized, but critics say the damage was done. Kevin Dietsch/AP hide caption

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Kevin Dietsch/AP

Coronavirus Update: Convalescent Plasma Treatment And Risks Of Reinfection

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Are All Masks Created Equal? How To Find The Right Mask To Protect Against COVID-19

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Russia Says It Approved A Coronavirus Vaccine

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Blood plasma — the yellowish, cell-free portion that remains after red and white blood cells have been filtered out by a machine and returned to the plasma donor — is rich with antibodies. Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients might prove useful in preventing infection as well as in treatment, scientists say. Lindsey Wasson/Reuters hide caption

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

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Scientists Are Researching Ways To Transfuse Antibodies In Coronavirus Treatment

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