Joe Palca Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR.
Joe Palca, photographed for NPR, 17 January 2019, in Washington DC.
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Joe Palca

Mike Morgan/NPR
Joe Palca, photographed for NPR, 17 January 2019, in Washington DC.
Mike Morgan/NPR

Joe Palca

Correspondent, Science Desk

Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, "Joe's Big Idea." Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. Palca is also the founder of NPR Scicommers – A science communication collective.

Palca began his journalism career in television in 1982, working as a health producer for the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC. In 1986, he left television for a seven-year stint as a print journalist, first as the Washington news editor for Nature, and then as a senior correspondent for Science Magazine.

In October 2009, Palca took a six-month leave from NPR to become science writer in residence at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Palca has won numerous awards, including the National Academies Communications Award, the Science-in-Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers, the American Chemical Society's James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Prize, and the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Writing. In 2019, Palca was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for outstanding achievement in journalism.

With Flora Lichtman, Palca is the co-author of Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us (Wiley, 2011).

He comes to journalism from a science background, having received a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he worked on human sleep physiology.

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Then-Director of the National Institutes of Health Elias Zerhouni speaks with President George W. Bush during a round table discussion on cancer prevention at the NIH in Bethesda, Md., in 2007. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

A Look At The COVID-19 Vaccine Landscape

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A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate ready for a trial in May 2020. Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images

Blood Plasma Treatments Could Be Helpful For COVID-19 Patients

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Cows with genes from the human immune system make antibodies that may help people fight the coronavirus. Walter Portz/SAB Biotherapeutics hide caption

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Walter Portz/SAB Biotherapeutics

Cows Help With COVID-19 Treatment, No Bull

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A COVID-19 patient is attached to a ventilator in April in the emergency room at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Yonkers, N.Y. A steroid treatment is showing promise in reducing mortality for patients on ventilators. John Minchillo/AP hide caption

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John Minchillo/AP

Cows' Antibodies May Help Humans During Coronavirus Crisis

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A bottle of hydroxychloroquine tablets in Texas City, Texas. The Food and Drug Administration has rescinded its emergency use authorization for the drug. David J. Phillip/AP hide caption

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David J. Phillip/AP

A researcher at the German Center for Immunity Therapy holds a bag containing blood plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient at the University Hospital Erlangen on April 27, 2020 in Erlangen, Germany. This plasma could be used to treat people with COVID-19. Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images hide caption

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Five Coronavirus Treatments In Development

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Researchers Are Looking Into Alternatives To Remdesivir In The Coronavirus Treatment

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Cell culture operators prepare a 2000-liter single-use bioreactor to produce proteins used to make vaccines. Philip Taciak/Emergent Biosolutions hide caption

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Philip Taciak/Emergent Biosolutions

Vaccine Makers Hedge Bets On Which One Will Emerge As Effective And Safe

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President Trump announced in May that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure against COVID-19. But a study published Wednesday finds no evidence the drug is protective in this way. GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images

No Evidence Hydroxychloroquine Is Helpful In Preventing COVID-19, Study Finds

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What Happened Today: Boston Marathon Is Canceled, Vaccine Questions

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Dr. Jonas Salk, the scientist who created the polio vaccine, administers an injection to an unidentified boy at Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1954. AP hide caption

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The Race For A Polio Vaccine Differed From The Quest To Prevent Coronavirus

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What People Can Learn From The Discovery Of A Polio Vaccine

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