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News Release 12-063

The National Science Board Announces NPR Science Desk as 2012 Public Service Award Recipient

Award recognizes impact of NPR stories on the public understanding of science

NPR logo.

NPR Science Desk receives 2012 Public Service Award

March 30, 2012

View Joe Palca in a video interview and presentation to the National Science Board.

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Board (NSB) announced today that National Public Radio (NPR) Science Desk, a dedicated group of reporters, editors and producers who are committed to deep, thoughtful and engaging coverage of science news, is the recipient of its 2012 Public Service Award.

The NPR Science Desk "tells a story" about science research advances or controversies in a way that is compelling to a broad audience. It offers listeners clear, incisive explanations of important and complex developments.

These passionate science storytellers have done an outstanding job of packaging science information for the public in a manner that makes it just as interesting and fun as stories about popular culture.

The audience for NPR Science Desk expanded greatly during recent years and now reaches more than 26 million listeners each week. The range of listeners speaks volumes for the NPR Science Desk story selection, research, editing, writing and presentation.

The NPR Science Desk began its full range science reporting in 1980 with a small group of men and women determined to report the facts accurately but also to tell the story in accessible and engaging ways.

Today, that group consists of nearly 30 highly trained and much-honored journalists whose expertise ranges from health and space policy to microbiology and infectious diseases. NPR science journalism is an integral part of the news demanded by its listeners--it is central to NPR's public service mission.

The NPR Science Desk has covered everything from its pioneering reporting on AIDS in the 1980s to its coverage of the recent nuclear catastrophe in Japan to the groundbreaking coverage of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The reporting is calm, explanatory and descriptive of some of the most complex subjects in an understandable and entertaining manner.

"The commitment displayed by the NPR Science Desk in reporting science in a compelling and engaging style is outstanding, and the Board appreciates all their efforts to communicate the importance of science so effectively," said NSB Chairman Ray Bowen.

The NSB Public Service Award honors individuals and groups that have made substantial contributions to increasing public understanding of science and engineering in the United States. These contributions may be in a wide variety of areas that have the potential of contributing to public understanding of and appreciation for science and engineering--including mass media, education, training programs and/or entertainment.

At an awards ceremony and dinner on May 3 at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC, the NPR Science Desk will receive the NSB Public Service Award for a group medal and certificate. Recipients of the Vannevar Bush Award, the NSB Public Service Award for an individual and National Science Foundation's Alan T. Waterman Award will also be recognized.

About the National Science Board

The NSB is the 25-member policymaking body for the National Science Foundation and advisory body to the president and Congress on science and engineering issues.  Drawn primarily from universities and industry, and representing a variety of science and engineering disciplines and geographic areas, NSB members are selected for their eminence in research, education or public service and records of distinguished service. The NSB has 24 members that serve six-year terms. The 25th member is the NSF director, an ex officio member of the NSB.  Visit the National Science Board's Web site for more information.


Media Contacts
Deborah Wing, NSF, (703) 292-5344, email:

Program Contacts
Ann Ferrante, NSF, (703) 292-4520, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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