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

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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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A Newer, Faster Way To Detect Norovirus In Water Supplies

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Locusts swarm over Yemen's capital. Mohammed Huwais /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Mohammed Huwais /AFP/Getty Images

Maybe The Way To Control Locusts Is By Growing Crops They Don't Like

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These Engineers Have Found A Way To Use Sweat For Some Medical Tests

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A locust from the colony at the Arizona State University locust lab. Joe Palca/NPR hide caption

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Joe Palca/NPR

What To Feed Locusts

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One of the 54 steerable dishes that make up much of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile's Atacama Desert. This one is 39 feet in diameter. Kathy Hudson/Hudson Works hide caption

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Kathy Hudson/Hudson Works

Chile And Telescopes Are A Match Made In Heaven

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Large Synoptic Survey Telescope under construction on Cerro Pachón in Chile Joe Palca/NPR hide caption

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Joe Palca/NPR

New Telescope Promises To Revolutionize Astronomy

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CLASS Telescope Kathy Hudson/Hudson Works hide caption

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Kathy Hudson/Hudson Works

Telescope In Chile's Mountains Looks For Signals To Explain How The Universe Began

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This illustration shows NASA's Cassini above Saturn's northern hemisphere before making one of its "Grand Finale" dives. NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech

Robots, Not Humans, Are The New Space Explorers

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Sun over Pacific Ocean during total eclipse as viewed from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. Kahty Hudson/Hudson Works hide caption

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Kahty Hudson/Hudson Works

Total Eclipse Hits Chile, Home To Half Of World's Telescopes

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Sun over the Pacific Ocean during total eclipse viewed from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory Kathy Hudson/Hudson Works hide caption

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Kathy Hudson/Hudson Works

Path Of A Total Solar Eclipse Passes Over A Major Observatory In Chile

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Dawn on eclipse day at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. Joe Palca/NPR hide caption

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Solar Eclipse Will Pass Over A Major Observatory In Chile

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Scientists Study Human Cancer Genes In Plants

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This graphic shows the path of Tuesday's solar eclipse and how much you can see from different places. The yellow band represents the path of totality, or the areas in which a total eclipse will be visible. Other areas will be able to see a partial solar eclipse. Michael Zeiler, greatamericaneclipse.com hide caption

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Michael Zeiler, greatamericaneclipse.com

Support structure for the thermal probe called "the mole." NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA Engineers Try To Remedy Stuck Probe On Mars

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Some cottonwood trees are home to microorganisms that are known methane producers. Sean Bagshaw/Science Source/Getty Images hide caption

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Sean Bagshaw/Science Source/Getty Images

Getting Fire From A Tree Without Burning The Wood

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