Nell Greenfieldboyce

Nell Greenfieldboyce is a NPR science correspondent.

With reporting focused on general science, NASA, and the intersection between technology and society, Greenfieldboyce has been on the science desk's technology beat since she joined NPR in 2005.

In that time Greenfieldboyce has reported on topics including the narwhals in Greenland, the ending of the space shuttle program, and the reasons why independent truckers don't want electronic tracking in their cabs.

Much of Greenfieldboyce's reporting reflects an interest in discovering how applied science and technology connects with people and culture. She has worked on stories spanning issues such as pet cloning, gene therapy, ballistics, and federal regulation of new technology.

Prior to NPR, Greenfieldboyce spent a decade working in print, mostly magazines including U.S. News & World Report and New Scientist.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins, earning her Bachelor's of Arts degree in social sciences and a Master's of Arts degree in science writing, Greenfieldboyce taught science writing for four years at the university. She was honored for her talents with the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Science Journalists.

You can't help but notice that Scott Pitnick has a big tattoo. It's a sperm with a long tail that winds down his right arm. People sometimes stare. "And when I tell them what it is, they either are very interested or they pivot on their heel and walk away," says Pitnick, an evolutionary biologist at Syracuse University. "All eye contact ceases." Some people just don't like talking about sperm. But not him. He's spent his career trying to unravel the mystery of giant sperm. The sperm are made...

Over 150 pregnant women in the United States appear to have been infected with Zika virus. That's in addition to more than 120 women affected by Zika in U.S. territories, mainly Puerto Rico. Those are the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which has been keeping track of all pregnant women in the U.S. and its territories who have lab tests suggestive of Zika virus infections. So far, officials say they are aware of fewer than a dozen pregnancies...

Inside a lab near Washington, D.C., there is a stack of stainless steel that weighs a million pounds. It's part of a unique machine that was built in 1965 and just refurbished for the first time. And in the world of metrology , the science of measurement, this giant is a source of national pride. "It's famous in its own right because it is the largest such machine in the world," says Rick Seifarth of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md. The one next biggest...

Scientists have found a microbe that does something textbooks say is impossible: It's a complex cell that survives without mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouses inside eukaryotic cells , the type of complicated cell that makes up people, other critters and plants and fungi. All eukaryotic cells contain a nucleus and little organelles — and one of the most famous was the mitochondrion. "They were considered to be absolutely indispensable components of the eukaryotic cell and the...

NASA announced Tuesday the discovery of an unprecedented number of planets beyond our solar system — astronomers have confirmed the existence of 1,284 new worlds orbiting distant stars. These planets beyond our solar system — exoplanets — were discovered with the help of NASA's Kepler Space Telescope , which launched in 2009. "When NASA decided to build and launch the Kepler Space Telescope, we did not know if exoplanets — especially small, rocky exoplanets — were common or rare in the galaxy...

A trio of newly discovered Earth-sized planets looks ideally suited to search for signs that these alien worlds might be able to support life. The planets orbit close to an unusually small, reddish star that's about one-eighth the size of our sun and is far cooler, researchers report in the journal Nature . All three planets have one side that's always facing the star, and one side that's always facing away. That means one side is frigid and one side is scorching hot — but the regions in...

The largest research hospital in the world, the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., needs reform so that patient safety is always the priority — and never subservient to the demands of science. That's the conclusion of a sweeping review by a task force of independent experts convened by the NIH. The team has made a slew of recommendations, including the creation of an outside hospital board to oversee the clinical center and a new central office to coordinate...

The National Institutes of Health has suspended work in two facilities that manufacture products given to people who are enrolled in research studies, saying the facilities haven't complied with safety standards designed to protect already-sick people from inappropriate risks. "There is no evidence that any patients have been harmed, but a rigorous clinical review will be undertaken," the NIH said in a statement provided to NPR Tuesday. "NIH will not enroll new patients in affected trials...

Finding a new planet that orbits a distant star isn't such a big deal anymore — astronomers have discovered around 2,000. But no one knows if any of these planets has a moon. That might change this year, if a moon-hunting project goes as planned. David Kipping , an astronomer at Columbia University, says his team will use some new techniques and one of the fastest supercomputers in the world to survey around 1,000 planets. He expects the search to be detailed enough to catch even some pretty...

Scientists have discovered a supermassive black hole that may be the biggest ever spotted — and its location in a ho-hum group of galaxies suggests that cosmic monsters like this one might be more common than astronomers previously thought. The newly discovered black hole is about 17 billion times more massive than our sun. Another black hole is currently listed in the Guinness World Records as the heaviest, because it may be as much as 21 billion solar masses. But the measurement of that...

Pages