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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Scientists at Pfizer's research and development laboratories in Groton, Conn., worked on the COVID-19 pill called Paxlovid. Stew Milne/AP hide caption

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How Pfizer developed a COVID pill in record time

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Researchers at the University of Washington Medicine Retrovirology Lab at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle process samples from Novavax's phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial in February 2021. Karen Ducey/Getty Images hide caption

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A different kind of COVID vaccine is about ready to roll

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What we know about the omicron variant

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A different type of COVID-19 vaccine is about to roll out around the world

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FDA authorizes COVID boosters for all adults

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Safeway pharmacist Shahrzad Khoobyari administers a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot to Chen Knifsend at a vaccination clinic in San Rafael, Calif., in October. The companies are seeking regulatory authorization to expand boosters to everyone 18 and older. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

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Pfizer and BioNTech ask FDA to authorize COVID vaccine booster for people 18+

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Gloria Clemons gives a COVID-19 vaccine to Navy veteran Perry Johnson at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Ill., in September. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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Breakthrough infections might not be a big transmission risk. Here's the evidence

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Breakthrough COVID may not be as threatening as scientists thought

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New antiviral drug from Merck could help reduce COVID hospitalizations and deaths

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Merck to seek emergency authorization for pill it says cuts COVID-19 effects

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The Pfizer Booster Shot Is Only Being Recommended For People 65 And Over

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FDA Advisers Endorse Pfizer COVID Booster Only For Those 65 And Over Or At Risk

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A Decision About Booster Shots To Fight COVID Could Be Coming Soon

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Pfizer Wants To Offer A 3rd COVID Vaccine Dose. Here Are The Pros And Cons

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