Richard Harris

Award-winning journalist Richard Harris reports on science issues for NPR's newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Harris, who joined NPR in 1986, has traveled to the ends of the earth for NPR. His reports have originated from Timbuktu, the South Pole, the Galapagos Islands, Beijing during the SARS epidemic, the center of Greenland, the Amazon rain forest and the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro (for a story about tuberculosis).

In 2010, Harris’ reporting uncovered that the blown-out BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was spewing out far more oil than asserted in the official estimates. He covered the United Nations climate negotiations, starting with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, followed by Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009. Harris was a major contributor to NPR’s award-winning 2007-2008 “Climate Connections” series.

Over the course of his career, Harris has been the recipient of many of the journalism and science industries’ most prestigious awards. The University of California at Santa Cruz awarded Harris the 2010-11 Alumni Achievement Award – the school’s highest honor. In 2002, Harris was elected an honorary member of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society. Harris shared a 1995 Peabody Award for investigative reporting on NPR about the tobacco industry.

As part of the team that collaborated on NPR's 1989 series “AIDS in Black America,” Harris was awarded a Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, a first place award from the National Association of Black Journalists and an Ohio State Award. In 1988, Harris won the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award for his report, “Anti-Noise: Can Technology Turn Noise into Quiet?” which explored a revolutionary technology that uses computer-generated noise to cancel out, not just mask, unwanted noise.

Before joining NPR, Harris was a science writer for the San Francisco Examiner. From 1981 to 1983, Harris was a staff writer at The Tri-Valley Herald in Livermore, California, covering science, technology, and health issues. Under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Harris spent the summer of 1980 as a Mass Media Science Fellow reporting on science issues for The Washington Star, in Washington, D.C.

Harris is co-founder of the Washington, D.C., Area Science Writers Association, as well as past president of the National Association of Science Writers.

A California native, Harris was valedictorian of his college graduating class at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1980. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology, with highest honors.

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9:18am

Thu May 12, 2011
Japan In Crisis

U.S. Looks To Reinforce Nuclear Safety

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission heard an update today about the situation at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.

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12:01am

Thu May 12, 2011
Science

A New, Somewhat Moldy Branch On The Tree Of Life

Two cells — one marked mostly in green, the other in blue — of a newly discovered organism that were found in water samples collected from the University of Exeter pond. Scientists think these "cryptomycota" use their tails to propel themselves while searching for food.
Meredith Jones Nature

If you think biologists have a pretty good idea about what lives on the Earth, think again. Scientists say they have just now discovered an entirely new branch on the tree of life. It's made up of mysterious microscopic organisms. They're related to fungus, but they so different you could argue that they deserve their very own kingdom, alongside plants and animals.

This comes as a big surprise. Just a few years ago, Prof. Timothy James and his colleagues sat down and wrote the definitive scientific paper to describe the fungal tree of life.

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7:30am

Sat May 7, 2011
Environment

World's Farmers Feel The Effects Of A Hotter Planet

Scientists have long predicted that — eventually — temperatures and altered rainfall caused by global climate change will take a toll on four of the most important crops in the world: rice, wheat soy and corn.

Now, as world grain prices hover near record highs, a new study finds that the effects are already starting to be felt.

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12:01am

Mon April 25, 2011
Environment

Losing, But Slowly, In Struggle To Fight Back The Sea

Some of the nation's richest and most important ecosystems lie where the ocean meets the land. It's these same coastal areas that are going to disappear as sea level continues to rise as a result of climate change.

But in one wildlife refuge in North Carolina, conservationists are attempting what would seem to be impossible: fighting back the sea.

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8:05pm

Mon April 11, 2011
The Science Of Japan's Nuclear Crisis

Cleaning Up Fukushima: A Challenge To The Core

The Japanese government raised its assessment of the crisis at the troubled nuclear power plant to the highest possible level.

The rating was bumped up from five to seven on an international scale used to evaluate the seriousness of nuclear incidents.

The move was based on new data on the amount of radiation released in the early days of the crisis, not on any recent change in the plant's status.

The accident in Japan is now in the same category as the Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union.

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