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. From 2011 to 2020 he produced stories that explored the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors as part of his series, Joe's Big Idea. 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.

Story Archive

Russia says it will pull out of the International Space Station after 2024

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What looks much like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals previously obscured areas of star birth. NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI hide caption

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NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

NASA's James Webb telescope will change how we view the universe

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The James Webb Space Telescope (shown here being tested on earth) is expected to reveal some of the most spectacular views of the Universe ever seen. Chris Gunn/Northrop Grumman, NASA hide caption

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Chris Gunn/Northrop Grumman, NASA

NASA's James Webb telescope reveals the universe as we've never seen it before

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NASA has lost contact with a small satellite called CAPSTONE

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Canada aims to provide medical technologies for deep space exploration

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The green boxes show portions of the audio spectrogram that artificial intelligence has identified as marine mammal calls. Ocean Science Analytics hide caption

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Ocean Science Analytics

A computer program designed to sort mice squeaks is also finding whales in the deep

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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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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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