Award-winning journalist Richard Harris has reported on a wide range of topics in science, medicine and the environment since he joined NPR in 1986. In early 2014, his focus shifted from an emphasis on climate change and the environment to biomedical research.
Harris has traveled to all seven continents 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, the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro (for a story about tuberculosis), and Japan to cover the nuclear aftermath of the 2011 tsunami.
In 2010, Harris' reporting revealed that the blown-out BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was spewing out far more oil than asserted in the official estimates. That revelation led the federal government to make a more realistic assessment of the extent of the spill.
Harris covered climate change for decades. He reported from the United Nations climate negotiations, starting with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and including 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 prestigious awards. Those include the American Geophysical Union's 2013 Presidential Citation for Science and Society. He shared the 2009 National Academy of Sciences Communication Award and was a finalist again in 2011. 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. Since 1988, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has honored Harris three times with its science journalism award.
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 related to the nuclear weapons lab in Livermore. He started his career as an AAAS Mass Media Science Fellow at the now-defunct Washington Star in DC.
Harris is co-founder of the Washington, DC, Area Science Writers Association, and is past president of the National Association of Science Writers. He serves on the board of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.
Harris' book Rigor Mortis was published in 2017. The book covers the biomedicine "reproducibility crisis" — many studies can't be reproduced in other labs, often due to lack of rigor, hence the book's title. Rigor Mortis was a finalist for the 2018 National Academy of Sciences/Keck Communication Award.
A California native, Harris returned to the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2012, to give a commencement address at Crown College, where he had given a valedictory address at his own graduation. He earned a bachelor's degree at the school in biology, with highest honors.
At least 70% of people will need to be immune from the coronavirus before COVID-19 can recede through a process known as herd immunity. Vaccines can play a role. But reaching the goal won't be easy.
In a 17-4 vote, an expert committee concluded that the scientific evidence supports the authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use during the pandemic.
Eli Lilly's monoclonal antibody will be available to people 65 or older or those with underlying health conditions. Supplies will be short, and allocating the medicine will be a challenge.
Experimental medicines have the potential to help people with COVID-19 avoid hospitalization. The scarce supply of the treatments would have to be rationed, if regulators OK their use.
The move by Eli Lilly came less than 24 hours after Johnson & Johnson paused further dosing in all of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate clinical trials while it investigated a volunteer's illness.
One thing that has improved a lot over the course of the pandemic is treatment of seriously ill COVID-19 patients in intensive care units. Here's one man's success story.
The spate of more than 2,500 acute vaping-related lung injuries tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is on the decline, epidemiologists say, and the number of deaths has slowed.
People who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking have milder cravings. The act of vaping provides pleasure, which may contribute to its success as a tobacco-quitting aid, researchers say.
Harvard University researchers probed the way ADHD is assessed by taking advantage of a quirk found in many U.S. school systems that means some kids are a year younger their classmates.
James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo were cited for their work in harnessing the immune system to arrest the development of cancer.