March 28, 2005
National Public Radio science correspondent
Richard Harris to speak at UCSC on April 6
By Tim Stephens
Award-winning journalist Richard Harris, science correspondent
for National Public Radio, will speak at UCSC on Wednesday,
April 6, as part of a distinguished lecturer series. Harris,
a UCSC alumnus, will give a talk entitled "Telling Tales
Out of School: How One Reporter Cracks the World of Science."
Richard Harris will spend three days at UCSC as part of
the Cowell College Distinguished Visiting Professor program.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin
at 7:30 p.m. in the Stevenson Event Center on the UCSC campus.
Harris, who joined NPR in 1986, reports on science issues for
the NPR programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered,
and Weekend Edition. He has traveled throughout the world
to report on stories, including trips to Antarctica, the Galapagos
Islands, Beijing during the SARS epidemic, the center of Greenland,
and the Amazon rain forest.
He has earned numerous awards for his reporting and was elected
an honorary member of the scientific research society Sigma
Xi in 2002.
Harris will spend three days at UCSC as part of the Cowell
College Distinguished Visiting Professor program, funded by
a UCSC Alumni Association endowment that supports visiting professors
at each of the campus's colleges on a rotating basis. The Cowell
College program, focusing on public communication about issues
relating to science and technology, includes four public lectures
in 2005 and 2006.
Harris will meet with a broad range of faculty and students
during his visit, including the current class of students in
UCSC's Science Communication Program. He will also visit the
studios of local public radio station KUSP.
A California native, Harris was valedictorian of his Crown
College graduating class at UCSC in 1980. He earned a B.A. in
biology, with highest honors, and went straight into journalism,
working as a newspaper reporter before joining NPR.
Harris had the instincts of a good reporter even as a student,
said John Wilkes, who taught a science writing course Harris
took. Wilkes, now director of the Science Communication Program,
recalled that when a major wildfire erupted on the Big Sur coast,
Harris jumped in his car and drove down to get interviews.
"He talked to everyone--firefighters, forestry officials,
residents--and he got all sides of the story, from the people
who said it was a natural event that wouldn't hurt anything
to those who said it was devastating," Wilkes said. "When
we published his story in our Science Notes magazine,
we got more letters on that story than we'd ever gotten. There
were complaints from both sides about the story's balance, but
the letters came in from both sides in equal numbers."
Among the many awards Harris has received during his career
as a journalist are the Sagan Award for improving the public
understanding of science from the Council of Scientific Society
Presidents and the Walter C. Alvarez Memorial Award from the
American Medical Writers Association, both awarded in 1999.
In 1995, he earned the Science Journalism Award from the American
Association for the Advancement of Science for his coverage
of endocrine disrupters.
Also in 1995, Harris shared a Peabody Award for investigative
reporting about the tobacco industry. He also won the 1994 Aviation/Space
Writers Association Gold Award for his coverage of the first
Hubble Space Telescope repair mission. He received the 1994
Cindy Award from the Association of Visual Communicators for
a story on the ecological impact of non-native species coming
to North America.
Harris is cofounder of the Washington, D.C., Area Science Writers
Association and past president of the National Association of
Harris's public lecture is sponsored by Cowell College and
the Alumni Association, with additional support from KUSP. For
more information, contact Cathy Shender at (831) 459-2251.
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