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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Dr. Peter Hotez and Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi of Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine have developed a COVID-19 vaccine that could prove beneficial to countries with fewer resources. Max Trautner/Texas Children's Hospital hide caption

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Max Trautner/Texas Children's Hospital

A Texas team comes up with a COVID vaccine that could be a global game changer

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On Tuesday, engineers successfully finished deploying the James Webb Space Telescope's sunshield, seen here during testing in December 2020 at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif. Chris Gunn/NASA hide caption

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Chris Gunn/NASA

Zero-gravity ballet: James Webb Space Telescope deploys sunshield and mirror

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This new, low-cost COVID-19 vaccine could be a game changer for low-income countries

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NASA has successfully deployed the sunshield on the James Webb Space Telescope

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A health care worker holds doses of J&J vaccines at the Gandhi Phoenix Settlement in Bhambayi township, South Africa, on Sept. 24. A study of the J&J booster shot in the country had promising results against the omicron variant. Rajesh Jantilal/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Rajesh Jantilal/AFP via Getty Images

New COVID studies show promise for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine booster

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The James Webb Space Telescope is on its trek to a spot a million miles from Earth

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So far so good for the James Webb Space Telescope after its long-awaited launch

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The Webb Telescope, the most powerful ever put into space, launched successfully

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NASA prepares to launch the James Webb Space Telescope

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FDA authorizes a 2nd easy-to-use COVID treatment, Merck's antiviral pill

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A pill to treat COVID patients gets the FDA's emergency authorization

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Pfizer's antiviral drug to treat COVID has gotten Emergency Use Authorization

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Everyone 16- and 17-year-olds can now get a Pfizer COVID vaccine booster

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Dr. Naresh Aggarwal talks with Jennifer Bain, who volunteered for a study of Medicago's COVID-19 vaccine, in Toronto. More than 24,000 volunteers in six countries participated. Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images hide caption

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Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

A COVID vaccine grown in plants measures up

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