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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Potential COVID-19 vaccines are kept in a tray at Novavax labs in Maryland on March 20. The Novavax vaccine requires an immune-boosting ingredient called an adjuvant to be effective. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A scientist is pictured working during a visit by Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (unseen), to Oxford Vaccine Group's laboratory facility at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, west of London on June 24, 2020, on his visit to learn more about the group's work to establish a viable vaccine against coronavirus COVID-19. STEVE PARSONS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Biotech company Moderna, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., announced that it is beginning Phase 3 trials of its COVID-19 vaccine. It will enroll up to 30,000 volunteers Maddie Meyer/Getty Images hide caption

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U.S., Canada, Britain Say Russian Hackers Are After COVID-19 Vaccine Data

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The United Arab Emirates' Hope probe will launch from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan and will reach Mars in February 2021. Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre hide caption

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Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre

It's A Good Time To Head To Mars

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1st United Arab Emirates Space Mission Will Send Probe To Mars

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Federal Government To Invest Over $2 Billion Into Coronavirus Vaccine Development

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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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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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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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