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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Shots - Health News
1:47 am
Thu July 30, 2015

Close Listening: How Sound Reveals The Invisible

Hanna Barczyk for NPR

Originally published on Fri July 31, 2015 9:21 am

Over the years, scientists have mostly interpreted the world through what they can see. But in the past few decades, a culture of listening has blossomed, especially among biologists who seek to understand how animals communicate. This week Morning Edition embarks on a weekly summer series called Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound. We begin with an innovation that transformed medicine by searching sounds for clues to illness and health.

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Science
9:19 am
Tue July 28, 2015

Bones In Church Ruins Likely The Remains Of Early Jamestown's Elite

3-D renderings of four skeletons found buried near the altar of an early church in the Jamestown settlement in Virginia.
Smithsonian X 3D

Originally published on Wed July 29, 2015 4:22 pm

Jamestown, Virginia — the first successful English colony in North America — was a difficult place, to say the least. Most of the colonists who arrived in 1607 died shortly thereafter.

Now archaeologists have discovered the remains of some of the colony's first leaders — Jamestown's elite.

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Shots - Health News
12:45 pm
Tue July 21, 2015

2 Gene Studies Suggest First Migrants To Americas A Complex Mix

The area around the confluence of the Silverthrone and Klinaklini glaciers in southwestern British Columbia provides a glimpse into how the terrain traveled by Native Americans in Pleistocene times may have appeared.
David J. Meltzer/Science

Originally published on Wed July 22, 2015 11:42 am

The first people to set foot in the Americas apparently came from Siberia during the last ice age.

That's the conventional wisdom.

But now there's evidence from two different studies published this week that the first Americans may have migrated from different places at different times — and earlier than people thought.

The human race has walked or paddled or sailed until it covered the globe. Scientists can trace those migrations from the stuff these people left behind: tools, dwellings or burial grounds.

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Science
2:09 am
Fri July 17, 2015

Science Confirms 2014 Was Hottest Yet Recorded, On Land And Sea

Floodwaters from rising sea levels have submerged and killed trees in Bedono village in Demak, Central Java, Indonesia. As oceans warm, they expand and erode the shore. Residents of Java's coastal villages have been hit hard by rising sea levels in recent years.
Ulet Ifansasti Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 17, 2015 7:14 am

For the past quarter-century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been gathering data from more than 400 scientists around the world on climate trends.

The report on 2014 from these international researchers? On average, it was the hottest year ever — in the ocean, as well as on land.

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Science
3:24 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Rules In Industry's Favor. What's EPA's Next Move?

A plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. in January 2015.
Jim Cole AP

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 3:37 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency made a mistake when it told electric power plants to reduce mercury emissions. The high court says the EPA should first have considered how much it would cost power plants to do that.

The decision comes too late for most power companies, but it could affect future EPA regulations.

Mercury in the air is a health risk. When you burn coal or oil, you create airborne mercury that can end up in fish we eat and cause serious health problems.

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Shots - Health News
11:41 am
Thu June 18, 2015

DNA Confirms Kennewick Man's Genetic Ties To Native Americans

This clay facial reconstruction of Kennewick Man, who died about 8,500 years ago in what's now southeast Washington, was based on forensic scientists' study of the morphological features of his skull.
Brittney Tatchell/Smithsonian Institution

Originally published on Thu June 18, 2015 6:07 pm

New genetic evidence suggests that Kennewick Man, an 8,500-year-old skeleton found in Washington state, is related to members of a nearby Native American tribe.

The DNA may help resolve a long-running scientific mystery, while at the same time reigniting a debate over who should have custody of the remains.

Kennewick Man was discovered accidentally in the mud flat along the Columbia River in 1996. He's caused a ruckus ever since.

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The Salt
2:59 pm
Mon June 15, 2015

Scientists, Fishing Fleet Team Up To Save Cod — By Listening

Chris Tremblay, a member of the Passive Acoustics group at NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center, deploys an underwater recording device along the Eastern Seaboard to listen for the mating sounds of Atlantic cod.
Courtesy of Chris Tremblay

Originally published on Mon June 15, 2015 4:50 pm

In the ocean off of Massachusetts, an unlikely alliance of scientists and fishermen is on a quest. They're looking for mating codfish. The goal is not only to revive a depleted fish population but to save an endangered fishing community as well.

Cod were once so plentiful in New England waters that people used to say you could almost walk across their backs. Cod fueled a huge fishing industry. But now they're scarce, mostly from overfishing.

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The Salt
12:55 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Revealed: The Ocean's Tiniest Life At The Bottom Of The Food Chain

Plankton collected in the Pacific Ocean with a 0.1mm mesh net. Seen here is a mix of multicellular organisms — small zooplanktonic animals, larvae and single protists (diatoms, dinoflagellates, radiolarians) — the nearly invisible universe at the bottom of the marine food chain.
Christian Sardet/CNRS/Tara Expeditions

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 2:54 pm

What's at the bottom of the bottom of the food chain? Well, think small ... smaller than you can see.

Tiny life forms in the ocean, too small for the naked eye to see.

There are (and scientists have done the math) trillions of microorganisms in the ocean: plankton, bacteria, krill (they're maybe bigger than "micro," but not by much), viruses, protists and archaea (they're like bacteria, but they aren't bacteria).

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The Two-Way
2:28 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

New Discovery Of World's Oldest Stone Tools

This undated image provided by the journal, Nature, shows an archaeological site, near Lake Turkana in Kenya.
Rhonda L. Quinn/Nature AP

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 7:35 am

Scientists working in East Africa say they've unearthed the oldest stone tools ever found. They were apparently made 500,000 years before the human lineage evolved.

A team led by Sonia Harmand from Stony Brook University in New York found the tools in Kenya, near Lake Turkana. It's an area that's yielded numerous fossils and tools from early humans.

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Science
3:01 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Big Shelves Of Antarctic Ice Melting Faster Than Scientists Thought

A 2008 view of the leading edge of the Larsen B ice shelf, extending into the northwest part of the Weddell Sea. Huge, floating ice shelves that line the Antarctic coast help hold back sheets of ice that cover land.
Mariano Caravaca Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 5:01 pm

The Antarctic is far away, freezing and buried under a patchwork of ice sheets and glaciers. But a warming climate is altering that mosaic in unpredictable ways — research published Thursday shows that the pace of change in parts of the Antarctic is accelerating.

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