NPR Science Correspondent Joe Palca Headlines Florida Tech Free Speech Week

10th Annual Event Held Virtually This Year

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Joe Palca, a science correspondent for National Public Radio who most recently covered the COVID-19 vaccine approvals, will deliver the keynote address on Wednesday, Feb. 17, during the 10th annual Free Speech Week hosted by Florida Tech’s student-run newspaper, The Crimson.

Free Speech Week features lectures and discussions on the First Amendment and the value of journalism. In light of the global pandemic, the focus this year is on the value of quality science journalism.

Scaled back to include only virtual events, Free Speech Week will feature Palca’s talk via Zoom at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 and a science journalism panel via Zoom at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 18.

Palca is an award-winning journalist who brings a scientific approach to his craft, having earned a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He’s been with NPR since 1992 and has also served as a print journalist, first as the Washington news editor for Nature, and then as a senior correspondent for Science Magazine.

In 2019, Palca was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for outstanding achievement in journalism.

The science journalism panel will be moderated by Dzmitry Yuran, an assistant professor of  journalism at Florida Tech, and will feature James Brenner, associate professor of biomedical and chemical engineering, Florida Today environmental reporter Jim Waymer and Adam Lowenstein, director of media communications at Florida Tech.

Both events are free and open to the public and can be accessed using the following Zoom link: 

“Considering how 2020 was filled with important science news—pandemics and vaccines, climate change-influenced wildfires and hurricanes, and ongoing challenges to the Indian River Lagoon—clear, accurate and ethical journalism about science is as important as ever,” said Ted Petersen, an associate professor of journalism at Florida Tech and adviser to The Crimson.

For more information, contact Petersen at 321-674-7201 or email

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