Alison Richards

Award-winning science journalist Alison Richards is deputy supervising senior editor for NPR's science desk.

On a daily basis, she manages the desk's output of science, environmental and technical stories; edits Robert Krulwich’s pieces; and helps bring highlights of WNYC's Radiolab to Morning Edition.

Richards initiates major science features and series for NPR. She was the architect and lead editor of the year long “Climate Connections” series with National Geographic. In 2008, this global series was a finalist for the prestigious Grantham Prize and the National Academies Communication Award. In addition, Richards shared the top award in 2009 from the National Academies for the digital and multimedia presentation of this series.

In 2010, Richards worked with NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris on his groundbreaking reporting of the amount of oil spilling from BP’s Deepwater Horizon Well in the Gulf of Mexico. She was the lead editor on the 20-part series on human evolution called the “Human Edge,” which explored the key changes that give modern humans the competitive edge over early ancestors through a variety of storytelling formats on air and on npr.org.

Before joining NPR in 1998, Richards worked for the Smithsonian. She came to the United States after working for many years with the BBC’s radio science unit in London. Prior to the BBC, Richards worked on museum exhibits for the Royal Shakespeare Theater and the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.

Richards’ books include A Passion for Science and Passionate Minds, both co-authored with Lewis Wolpert, and A Paradise out of a Common Field and The New Book of Apples, both co-authored with Joan Morgan.

Born in the United Kingdom, Richards has a master’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford.

The Salt
10:48 am
Thu October 31, 2013

The Secret, Steamy History Of Halloween Apples

Howard Chandler Christy's painting Halloween, as reproduced in Scribner's in January 1916.
Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Sun November 3, 2013 5:22 am

A Halloween apple bob may seem as homespun as a hayride, but that shiny red apple has a steamy past. It was once a powerful symbol of fertility and immortality.

Apple bobbing and eating candy apples are "the fossilized remnants of beliefs that ultimately go back to prehistory," British apple expert and fruit historian, Joan Morgan, tells the Salt.

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The Salt
7:18 am
Mon July 30, 2012

Fun — And Olympic Games — On National Cheesecake Day

There's evidence the first Olympic athletes ate cheesecake, but it probably looked a lot different than this.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 10:23 am

It turns out to be easier to find out when and where the original Olympic Games were held (776 BC, in Olympia, Greece) than to nail down the story behind National Cheesecake Day.

Yes, in case it had passed you by, today is National Cheesecake Day.

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The Salt
12:13 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Clarence Birdseye And His Fantastic Frozen Food Machine

Birdseye packed and froze his fish fillets in the patented cartons he developed
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Originally published on Tue May 22, 2012 10:19 am

There's a particular pleasure in being reminded that the most ordinary things can still be full of magic. Frogs may turn into princes. Lumps of dirt can hide sparkling gems. And having just read Mark Kurlansky's new biography of Clarence Birdseye, I now see the humble fish fillet in a whole new light.

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The Salt
4:12 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

A Christmas Pudding In The Mail Carries A Taste Of Home

The pudding's dark glossy dome is flamed with brandy and carried to the table before the shimmering blue aura dies away.
Chris Elwell iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 7:35 am

Any day now it will arrive stamped by the Royal Mail: a truly homemade Christmas pudding from my family in England.

My mother always made Christmas puddings. And before moving to the U.S., I would make two or three puddings every November, too. Now it's my sister and brother-in-law who keep up the tradition. They use a mid-Victorian recipe handed down to my brother-in-law's father by his mother, the former Miss Mortlock. She was a Quaker so these are teetotal puddings.

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