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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Results Of Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Questioned After AstraZeneca Admits A Mistake

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3rd Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate Reported To Be Effective

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Coronavirus Update: Government Reaction To Latest Surges Across The U.S.

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Pfizer Concludes Coronavirus Vaccine Trial And Will Seek FDA Approval

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Pfizer plans to file within days with the Food and Drug Administration to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine. Bebeto Matthews/AP hide caption

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Bebeto Matthews/AP

Pfizer To Seek FDA OK For COVID-19 Vaccine 'Within Days'

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Clinical data for Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine showed it was nearly 95% effective in preventing disease, according to an interim analysis described in a company release Monday. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images hide caption

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Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Moderna's COVID-19 Vaccine Shines In Clinical Trial

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This taken in Oct. 2020 and provided by Pfizer shows part of a "freezer farm," a football field-sized facility for storing finished COVID-19 vaccines, in Puurs, Belgium. AP hide caption

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AP

The COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Results: What They Mean, What Comes Next

Interim results are in from a large trial of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Drug maker Pfizer, working with German company BioNTech, says its vaccine appears to be working really well--it was found to be more than 90 percent effective. Today on Short Wave, host Maddie Sofia talks to NPR science correspondent Joe Palca about what that efficacy number means, details of the study and what more information about the vaccine researchers are awaiting.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Results: What They Mean, What Comes Next

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Cicadas Might Help Humans Discover New Hydrophobic Materials

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Pfizer Releases Promising Vaccine News; Biden Announces COVID Taskforce

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As Coronavirus Cases Spike, Hopeful News On The Vaccine Front

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Pfizer said a clinical trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine found it to be more than 90% effective. Mark Lennihan/AP hide caption

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Mark Lennihan/AP

Pfizer Says Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective

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Group Of Independent Experts To Advise FDA On Coronavirus Vaccine Approval

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Britain Moves Toward Ethically Controversial COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

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U.K. Moves Toward Ethically Controversial Coronavirus Vaccine Trial

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Tobacco plants are being used in the development of COVID-19 vaccines. One is already being tested in humans. Rehman Asad/Barcroft Media via Getty Images hide caption

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Rehman Asad/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Tobacco Plants Contribute Key Ingredient For COVID-19 Vaccine

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