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

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.

[+] read more[-] less

Story Archive

Johnson & Johnson Says Data Show COVID-19 Vaccine Appears Safe

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/956506278/956506279" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

An artist's rendering of the twin Mars Cube One (MarCO) spacecraft as they fly through deep space. The MarCOs will be the first CubeSats — a kind of modular, mini-satellite — attempting to fly to another planet. They're designed to fly along behind NASA's InSight lander on its cruise to Mars. NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

toggle caption
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Older adults and first responders wait in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine late last month at the Lakes Regional Library in Fort Myers, Fla. Octavio Jones/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Math Problem: What's The Best Strategy For COVID-19 Vaccination?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/955659213/955661606" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Math Can Help In Deciding How To Distribute The Vaccine

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/955384322/955384323" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Latest On COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/951548477/951548478" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

C.V. Vishveshwara in 2007 in Oak Park, Illinois. Namitha Vishveshwara hide caption

toggle caption
Namitha Vishveshwara

C.V. Vishveshwara's Revolutionary Black Hole Research Turns 50

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/911420063/951208182" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

What Does The New COVID-19 Variant In The U.K. Mean For Americans?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/950360046/950360688" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Moderna's COVID-19 Vaccine Await's Emergency Authorization From FDA

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/947940391/947943068" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

FDA Immunization Panel Assesses Moderna's Application For Its COVID-19 Vaccine

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/947693769/947693770" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Independent Panel To Give FDA Its Opinion On Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/947440062/947440063" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

What Scientists Think Of Moderna's COVID-19 Vaccine

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/946827280/946827281" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Analysis By FDA Of Moderna's COVID-19 Vaccine Finds It Effective, Safe

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/946654076/946670754" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Americans Await Distribution Of Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/945788766/945788767" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

FDA Advisory Committee Considers Authorization For Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/945136676/945136677" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

FDA Analysis Confirms That Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine May Be Effective

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/944337713/944337714" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript