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.

The illegal trade in ivory from African elephants has tripled in the past 15 years, to the extent that biologists fear for the creatures' future existence. Most of the ivory is sold in China and Vietnam, and these days the U.S. government and international conservation groups urge those countries to arrest the traffickers . But for the better part of a century, from 1840 to around 1940, the U.S. was the world's biggest buyer of ivory. Hunters killed hundreds of thousands of elephants, and...

The world's oceans are changing — chemically changing. As people put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the oceans absorb more of it, and that's making the water more acidic. The effects are subtle in most places, but scientists say that if this continues, it could be a disaster for marine life. In fact, some scientists have taken a glimpse of what a more acidic ocean might look like. Kristy Kroeker , a marine biologist at the University of California, Davis, has dived down to vents in...

A trio of anthropologists has decided it's time to rewrite the story of human evolution. That narrative has always been a work in progress, because almost every time scientists dig up a new fossil bone or a stone tool, it adds a new twist to the story. Discoveries lead to new arguments over the details of how we became who we are. But anthropologists generally agree on this much: A little more than 2 million years ago in Africa, the human lineage emerged. Smithsonian anthropologist Rick Potts...

If you go to a zoo on a cold day and watch the snakes, you'll see what it means to be coldblooded . Not much action going on — most reptiles and other coldblooded creatures take on the temperature of their surroundings, so they tend to be most sluggish when the outside temperature is cool. The monkeys, however, act like they've had one too many cappuccinos. That's largely because they're warmblooded — their bodies have lots of tricks for actively generating heat and losing it, so they're...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EkEsTafD38 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kjh7bQSc8ag Some of the toughest stuff in nature is spider silk — as strong, ounce for ounce, as nylon. And a silk web makes a great trap for prey, as well as a nice place for a spider to live. But scientists have learned that spiders can do something else quite extraordinary with their webs: They can "tune" them, like musical instruments. This revelation comes from a scientific team in England called the Oxford Silk...

Wildlife biologists have discovered the longest known terrestrial migration in Africa: some 350 miles across southern Africa by huge herds of zebras. Large mammal migration in Africa has generally been hindered by the subdivision and fencing of land. However, this one remains possible because it takes place in a unique, multi-country wildlife corridor. Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Many parts of the U.S. have been getting warmer over the past several decades, and also experiencing persistent drought. Wildlife often can't adjust. Among the species that are struggling is one of the American West's most highly prized fish — the cutthroat trout . In springtime, you can find young cutthroats in the tiny streams of Montana's Shields Basin. Bend over and look closely and you might see a 2-inch fish wriggling out from under a submerged rock — the spawn of native cutthroats. The...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kGVqDmYZhI In the spring of 2013, poachers looking for elephant ivory took advantage of the chaos of a civil war raging in the Central African Republic, and massacred 26 rare forest elephants at a special place called the "Dzanga bai." The bai is a muddy clearing, roughly the size of several football fields, surrounded by dense rain forest. For two decades, wildlife biologists have been studying the hundreds of secretive elephants that congregate there. (These...

Ivory poachers are killing some 22,000 African elephants a year. Among the recent casualties was a group of rare forest elephants in the Central African Republic. Those elephants were featured in an NPR program, Radio Expeditions, in 2002, when former NPR host and correspondent Alex Chadwick and sound engineer Bill McQuay went to central Africa to record them . The Central African Republic was peaceful back then. We were expecting to find an amazing new world of sound to record, and the...

This week, scientists at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History will start unpacking some rare and precious cargo. It's something the Smithsonian has never had before — a nearly complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Most people don't know it, but the T. rex that's standing tall in the Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C., is a fake — a cast, a copy of the bones. It's an accurate replica, but for decades the Smithsonian has coveted a real skeleton of a T. rex — the...

Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep. DAVID GREENE, HOST: And I'm David Greene. Good morning. The biggest extinction the Earth has ever seen took place 250 million years ago and it remains something of a mystery. Scientists suspected giant volcanoes or perhaps an asteroid caused it, but NPR's Christopher Joyce has seen new research suggesting the cause might not have been so cataclysmic - maybe something much more subtle. CHRISTOPHER JOYCE,...

For the past decade, dinosaur scientists have been puzzling over a set of fossil bones they variously describe as weird and bizarre. Now they've figured out what animal they belonged to: a bird-like creature they're calling "the chicken from hell." There are two reasons for the name. First: If you took a chicken, crossed it with an ostrich, bulked it up to 500 pounds, stretched it out to roughly 11 feet, put a bony crest on its head (like some ancient Greek helmet), added a dinosaur tail and...

Big, fierce animals — lions and tigers and bears, for example — are relatively scarce in nature. That's normal, because if you have too many, they'll eat themselves out of prey. But top predators are now so rare that many are in danger of disappearing. That's creating ripple effects throughout the natural world that scientists are still trying to figure out. What they're exploring is ecology — the interplay of animals and plants in nature. It's not rocket science. It's harder. "We're dealing...

One of the hinge points in human history was the invention of agriculture . It led to large communities, monumental architecture and complex societies. It also led to tooth decay. When hunter-gatherers started adding grains and starches to their diet, it brought about the "age of cavities." At least that's what a lot of people thought . But it turns out that even before agriculture, what hunter-gatherers ate could rot their teeth. The evidence comes from a cave in Morocco — the Cave of the...

Millions of American property owners get flood insurance from the federal government, and a lot of them get a hefty discount. But over the past decade, the government has paid out huge amounts of money after floods, and the flood insurance program is deeply in the red. Congress tried to fix that in 2012 by passing a law to raise insurance premiums. Now that move has created such uproar among property owners that Congress is trying to make the law it passed disappear. Caught in the middle is...

The Great Wall of China, built more than 2,000 years ago, stands as one of the monumental feats of ancient engineering. Stretching thousands of miles, it protected the newly unified country from foreign invaders. But before the Great Wall, warring Chinese dynasties built many other walls for protection. An American archaeologist recently began surveying one of the biggest. Gary Feinman , who is with the Field Museum of Chicago, didn't set out to excavate what he now calls "the first Great...

Among the things to celebrate this holiday season is the fact that there are fewer hungry people in the world. Just how many? Well, since 1965, researchers in Europe have been tracking the world's food supply and where it's going. The good news is: The percentage of the world's population getting what the researchers say is a sufficient diet has grown from 30 percent to 61 percent. In 1965, a majority of the world survived on less than 2,000 calories a day per person. This was especially true...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: The North America's grizzly bear is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Its population was virtually wiped out in the lower 48 states. One group of bears, though, may soon lose that protection - the Yellowstone grizzly. Some scientists say that group is thriving. Others disagree. NPR's Christopher Joyce has more on the battle over the bear. CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: The U.S. government tried to take...

Hurricane Sandy last year did more harm to coastal cities and homes than any hurricane in U.S. history, except Katrina. Most of that damage has been repaired. But there's other damage that people can't see to the underwater coastline, known as the shore face. Apparently, Long Island's shore face did remarkably well against the storm of the 21st century. The shore face is the underwater slope that runs up to the shore. Its shape influences how fast and high water moves onto land. Sandy pushed...

Methane is the source of the gas we burn in stoves. You can also use it to make plastics, antifreeze or fertilizer. It comes out of underground deposits, but it also seeps up from swamps, landfills, even the stomachs of cows. And while methane is valuable, a lot of it gets up into the atmosphere, where it becomes a very damaging greenhouse gas. Scientists have been trying to find out, with varying success, exactly how much of this climate-warming gas gets into the atmosphere. A study...

The physical damage from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is catastrophic. Hundreds of thousands of people are now homeless. Soon, though, people will start to rebuild, as they have after similar natural disasters. How they do it, and where, is increasingly important in places like the Philippines. The island nation lies in a sort of "typhoon alley," and with climate change and rising sea levels, there are more storms in store. Sociologist Kathleen Tierney knows about disasters; she runs the...

Meat mummies. It's a word pairing that is, I dare say, pretty rare. Who among us has heard those two words together? What, indeed, could a "meat mummy" be? Indiana Jones, of course, would have known the answer right away. A meat mummy is a section of animal prepared as if for eating, then bandaged and placed in a sarcophagus by ancient Egyptians. Egyptian royalty, even after death, got hungry. And royalty deserved something more than oats and tubers. Tutankhamun , who died in 1323 B.C., was...

Trout fishing is a magnet that draws people from around the world to places like Ovando, Mont. Just ask the owner of Blackfoot Angler and Supplies, Kathy Schoendoerfer. "Every state in the nation has been through this little shop in Ovando, Montana, population 50," says Schoendoerfer with a mix of pride and perhaps a little fatigue. "And we've also had everybody from Russia, Latvia. We get a lot of Canadians, France, Finland, Brazil, Scotland, Germany, South Africa. We get a lot of business...

In the mountain streams of the American West, the trout rules. People don't just catch this fish; they honor it. And spend lots of money pursuing it. But some western trout may be in trouble. Rivers and streams are getting warmer and there's often less water in them. Scientists suspect a changing climate is threatening this iconic fish. I joined two such scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey as they drove up a mountain road in Montana, in the northern Rockies, a place dense with stands...

Great works of ancient engineering, like the Pyramids or Stonehenge, inspire awe in every beholder. But some onlookers also get inspired to figure out exactly how these structures were made. Howard Stone , an engineer from Princeton University, had such a moment in Beijing's Forbidden City — a city-within-a-city of palaces and temples built in the 15th and 16th centuries. A carved, 300-ton slab that formed a ramp to one structure particularly caught Stone's eye. "How in the world did it get...

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