2013 Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture: 
Joe Palca

Joe Palca

Joe Palca (Photo credit: ©2010 NPR, by 
Doby Photography).

Date: November 21, 2013
Time: 6:00 p.m. lecture, 7:00 p.m. reception

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Event Type: Open to the Public
Fee: Free
RSVP Online: Online registration is now closed.

The Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture emphasizes the positive role that the chemical and molecular sciences play in our lives.

This year’s speaker, Joe Palca, will present “Covering Complex Science, or How I Explained a Frank-Kasper σ Phase in Sphere-Forming Block Copolymer Melts to a Radio Audience.”

Watching remotely? Visit chemheritage.org/live at 6:00 p.m. to view the live webcast.

Coming in person? Use the registration links above.

Are some science topics too complicated to explain to a nonscientific audience? Joe Palca says the answer is no. According to Palca, any scientific topic can be explained to at least some level of abstraction. The explanation might not satisfy a scientist, but that’s not the goal of popular media. And besides, what scientific topic can be fully explained in a three-and-a-half-minute radio story?

About the speaker

Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR and a guest host for Talk of the Nation Science Friday. Since joining NPR in 1992 he has reported on a range of science topics—everything from biomedical research to astronomy.

Palca began his journalism career in television in 1982, working as a health producer for the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C. In 1986 he left television for a seven-year stint as a print journalist, first as the Washington news editor for Nature and then as a senior correspondent for Science.

In October 2009 Palca took a six-month leave from NPR to become science writer in residence at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California.

Palca has won numerous awards, including the National Academies Communications Award, the Science-in-Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers, the American Chemical Society James T. Grady−James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Prize, and the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Writing.

Palca is the coauthor (with Flora Lichtman) of Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us (Wiley, 2011) and the creator of the NPR online project “Joe’s Big Idea,” which looks at the origins of big ideas and how those ideas become important discoveries.

He comes to journalism from a science background, having received a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he worked on human sleep physiology.

More information

For more information about this event, please contact Sarah Reisert at 215.873.8263 or sreisert@chemheritage.org.


The Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture is presented in partnership with the Philadelphia and Delaware sections of the American Chemical Society, the Department of Chemistry of the University of Pennsylvania, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, and the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

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