Christopher Joyce

Christopher Joyce is a correspondent on the science desk at NPR. His stories can be heard on all of NPR's news programs, including NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Joyce seeks out stories in some of the world's most inaccessible places. He has reported from remote villages in the Amazon and Central American rainforests, Tibetan outposts in the mountains of western China, and the bottom of an abandoned copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Over the course of his career, Joyce has written stories about volcanoes, hurricanes, human evolution, tagging giant blue-fin tuna, climate change, wars in Kosovo and Iraq and the artificial insemination of an African elephant.

For several years, Joyce was an editor and correspondent for NPR's Radio Expeditions, a documentary program on natural history and disappearing cultures produced in collaboration with the National Geographic Society that was heard frequently on Morning Edition.

Joyce came to NPR in 1993 as a part-time editor while finishing a book about tropical rainforests and, as he says, "I just fell in love with radio." For two years, Joyce worked on NPR's national desk and was responsible for NPR's Western coverage. But his interest in science and technology soon launched him into parallel work on NPR's science desk.

In addition, Joyce has written two non-fiction books on scientific topics for the popular market: Witnesses from the Grave: The Stories Bones Tell (with co-author Eric Stover); and Earthly Goods: Medicine-Hunting in the Rainforest.

Before coming to NPR, Joyce worked for ten years as the U.S. correspondent and editor for the British weekly magazine New Scientist.

Joyce's stories on forensic investigations into the massacres in Kosovo and Bosnia were part of NPR's war coverage that won a 1999 Overseas Press Club award. He was part of the Radio Expeditions reporting and editing team that won the 2001 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University journalism award and the 2001 Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Joyce won the 2001 American Association for the Advancement of Science excellence in journalism award.

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12:01am

Fri May 20, 2011
Research News

Mammals Smelled Their Way To Bigger Brains

CT scans of fossil Hadrocodium skulls allowed scientists to reconstruct its brain. The olfactory bulbs, located at the front of the brain, grew steadily larger as millions of years passed.
Matt Colbert University of Texas at Austin

We humans can brag about our large brain, but in fact most mammals — from aardvarks to zebras — have big brains for their body size. For years, scientists have wondered what evolutionary forces pumped up the mammal brain so much, and now they may have an answer.

Mammals needed a better sense of smell.

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4:55pm

Thu May 19, 2011
Science

Giant Quake Reveals Japan's Other Unstable Faults

Geologists drop an acoustic transponder into the Pacific Ocean to measure movements on the seafloor.
Courtesy of Japan Coast Guard

The March 11 earthquake just off the coast of Japan surprised many experts. Geologists say they didn't expect that big a quake in that spot.

But they do fear that more big quakes may be in the offing in or near Japan. Scientists can't tell when, but they're trying to narrow down where.

The answers lie amidst the huge plates that make up the Earth's crust. Think of them as like floating ice sheets on a lake.

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12:01am

Mon May 16, 2011
Energy

Nuclear Nations Turn To Natural Gas And Renewables

Engineers probing the ruined nuclear reactors at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant are finding yet more damage. Not only did fuel melt in three reactors, they've just discovered a hole in one reactor vessel. And radioactive water continues to leak at the site. That mess in Fukushima has led several governments to reassess nuclear power.

Japan was planning 14 new reactors. Germany, famously anti-nuclear, had approved several new plants. Utilities in the U.S. had plans for new reactors as well.

Now?

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8:13pm

Mon April 25, 2011
World

Challenges Loom Large, 25 Years After Chernobyl

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:57 am

A technician checks a spot with a Geiger counter in a forest that burned in 1992. The wildfire released radioactive particles into the air that were deposited there during the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl. Experts worry nearby forest, which is becoming overgrown, could again be ripe for a blaze.
Patrick Landmann Getty Images

The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant 25 years ago not only changed the lives of people in Ukraine; it also put a radioactive stain on the continent. And it showed just how far-reaching the ramifications of a serious nuclear accident could be.

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4:44pm

Wed April 20, 2011
The BP Oil Spill, One Year Later

'Quagmire Of Bureaucracy' Stifles Gulf Spill Research

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:58 am

Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace USA, inspects oil-covered reeds while visiting the disaster site on May 20, 2010 south of Venice, Louisiana. A year after the spill, BP has yet to distribute $450 million dollars to scientists studying the disaster.
John Moore Getty Images

Although images of dead birds and blackened marshes in the Gulf of Mexico are gone, many scientists say it's too early to declare a recovery. They suspect there could be hidden damage to the Gulf's marine life and marshes. And some of these scientists say research on the effects of the spill has been delayed or kept secret.

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