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.

11:48am

Thu October 31, 2013
The Salt

The Secret, Steamy History Of Halloween Apples

Originally published on Sun November 3, 2013 6:22 am

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

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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8:18am

Mon July 30, 2012
The Salt

Fun — And Olympic Games — On National Cheesecake Day

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 11:23 am

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

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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5:12pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Salt

A Christmas Pudding In The Mail Carries A Taste Of Home

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 8:35 am

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

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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1:22pm

Mon November 21, 2011
The Salt

For The Origins Of Pie, Look To The Humble Magpie

Originally published on Mon November 21, 2011 3:26 pm

A drawing of a medieval pie baker, circa 1465-1475.
Courtesy of Institut für Realienkunde

This is the month when the stately, voluptuous turkey takes a place of pride on most dinner tables. But when it comes to dessert, it's worth considering the relevance of another bird — the humble magpie.

That's because, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "pie" — defined as a baked dish topped with and sometimes also surrounded by pastry — may well derive from the Latin word pica, meaning magpie.

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