Joe Palca Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR.
Joe Palca 2010
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Joe Palca

Doby Photography/NPR
Joe Palca 2010
Doby Photography/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 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 and 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 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.

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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CHIME Pathfinder prototype radio telescope Keith Vanderlinde/Dunlap Institute hide caption

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Keith Vanderlinde/Dunlap Institute

Astronomers' New Tool May Help Solve Intergalactic Mystery

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The Chinese lunar lander Chang'e 4 is headed to Aitken Basin, a large impact crater near the moon's south pole, pictured here in blue. The distance from the depths of Aitken Basin to the tops of the highest surrounding peaks is nearly twice the height of Mount Everest, according to NASA. NASA/Goddard hide caption

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NASA/Goddard

China's Lunar Lander To Explore Moon's Far Side

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A cubesat, like this briefcase-sized MarCO, was key to relaying telemetry during the recent InSight mission to Mars. It was the first time this kind of mini-spacecraft had flown into deep space. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

What's Next For Tiny Satellites?

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Tianjin, in northern China, is home to Tianjin University, an international research center that recently hired an American to lead its school of pharmaceutical science and technology. He recruits students from all over the world, he says, and the program's classes are taught in English. Prisma Bildagentur/UIG/Getty Images hide caption

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Prisma Bildagentur/UIG/Getty Images

China Expands Research Funding, Luring U.S. Scientists And Students

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New Probe Lands On Mars For Unprecedented Mission

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NASA's Mars Probe Is To Land Soon Near The Planet's Equator

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NASA engineers on the flight team celebrate the InSight spacecraft's successful landing on Mars at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., on Monday. Al Seib/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Al Seib/AFP/Getty Images

NASA Probe Lands Safely On Martian Surface

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People who are sensitive to the bitterness of caffeine tend to drink more coffee than others, while people sensitive to bitter flavors like quinine drink less coffee, according to a new study. Dimitri Otis/Getty Images hide caption

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Dimitri Otis/Getty Images

An artist's concept portrays a NASA rover exploring the surface of Mars. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

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Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Waiting For Opportunity To Get In Touch

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This October 2008 photo shows Mercury during the Messenger spacecraft's second flyby of the planet. The European Space Agency's BepiColombo will take seven years to reach the innermost planet in our solar system. NASA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington via AP hide caption

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NASA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington via AP

A Slow Trip To A Hot Planet: Spacecraft Launches For Mission To Mercury

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The orbits of the new extreme dwarf planet 2015 TG387 and its fellow inner Oort Cloud objects 2012 VP113 and Sedna as compared with the rest of the Solar System. 2015 TG387 was nicknamed ͞"The Goblin" by its discoverers, as its provisional designation contains TG and the object was first seen near Halloween. Illustration by Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard, courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science. hide caption

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Illustration by Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard, courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science.

A Small Planet With Big Implications

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The people-plaguing Asian tiger mosquito, or Aedes albopictus, typically lays its eggs in stagnant water. James Gathany/AP hide caption

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James Gathany/AP

Building A Better Mosquito Trap — One Scientist Thinks He's Done It

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Janjic found that playing the piano didn't make her pain go away completely, but it eased the pain she felt. Jeff Swensen for NPR hide caption

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Jeff Swensen for NPR

Inspired By Her Own Pain, A Researcher Explores Alternatives To Opioid Treatments

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Scientists find that the whiskers of harbor seals help them distinguish predator from prey — even from a distance. Douglas Klug/Images hide caption

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Douglas Klug/Images

Need To Track A Submarine? A Harbor Seal Can Show You How

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