Jon Hamilton

Jon Hamilton is a correspondent for NPR's Science Desk. Currently he focuses on neuroscience, health risks, and extreme weather.

Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Hamilton was part of NPR's team of science reporters and editors who went to Japan to cover the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Hamilton contributed several pieces to the Science Desk series "The Human Edge," which looked at what makes people the most versatile and powerful species on Earth. His reporting explained how humans use stories, how the highly evolved human brain is made from primitive parts, and what autism reveals about humans social brains.

In 2009, Hamilton received the Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award for his piece on the neuroscience behind treating autism.

Before joining NPR in 1998, Hamilton was a media fellow with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation studying health policy issues. He reported on states that have improved their Medicaid programs for the poor by enrolling beneficiaries in private HMOs.

From 1995-1997, Hamilton wrote on health and medical topics as a freelance writer, after having been a medical reporter for both The Commercial Appeal and Physician's Weekly.

Hamilton graduated with honors from Oberlin College in Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. As a student, he was the editor of the Oberlin Review student newspaper. He earned his master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, where he graduated with honors During his time at Columbia, Hamilton was awarded the Baker Prize for magazine writing and earned a Sherwood traveling fellowship.

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Research News
4:57 pm
Wed August 24, 2011

El Nino Seen As Trigger For Violence In The Tropics

This image shows the the above-normal water temperature in the Pacific Ocean during the December 1997 El Nino. Green-blue colors represent normal temperatures; dark red indicates hotter water.
NOAA

Scientists say there's a link between climate and violent conflict.

A statistical analysis of civil conflicts between 1950 and 2004 found that in tropical countries, conflicts were twice as likely to occur in El Nino years. The analysis appears in the journal Nature.

El Nino occurs when there is unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean near the equator. But it affects weather patterns in tropical countries around the globe.

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Environment
4:59 am
Wed August 3, 2011

NASA's Eyes In The Sky Study Pollution On Earth

The P-3B NASA research aircraft, seen on the tarmac at Baltimore Washington International Airport on June 28, will gather data as it flies spirals over six ground stations in Maryland.
Paul E. Alers NASA

NASA, the agency best known for exploring space, is trying to answer some urgent questions about air pollution right here on Earth.

For much of July, the agency flew research planes between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore as part of a mission known as DISCOVER-AQ. The planes, along with weather balloons and ground stations, were gathering data on how pollutants such as ozone and particulates behave in the atmosphere.

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Research News
3:51 pm
Wed July 27, 2011

Parkinson's Treatment Could Work For OCD, Too

The letters O-C-D have become a punch line to describe people who make lists or wash their hands a lot. But for some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the intrusive thoughts and rituals are severely disabling and don't respond to drugs or behavioral therapies.

So doctors have been trying a new treatment for OCD: deep brain stimulation.

Deep brain stimulation is best known as a way to reduce the tremors of Parkinson's disease. A surgeon places wires deep in the brain that carry electrical impulses from an implanted device a bit like a pacemaker.

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Research News
4:09 pm
Fri July 22, 2011

New Device Reduces Seizures, No Surgery Required

A experimental device that delivers electrical pulses to the forehead can help control epileptic seizures, say scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The device works by stimulating the trigeminal nerve, which runs just beneath the skin covering the eyebrows. Electrical signals follow that nerve to areas in the brain where seizures often begin, researchers say.

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Health
12:23 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

Rising Costs Complicate Vaccine Guidelines

The group that advises the U.S. government on vaccination thinks some new vaccines may not be worth the cost.

In 2009, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, decided it's not cost effective to routinely vaccinate boys for human papillomavirus, though they do recommend the vaccine for girls. Now the group is struggling to decide whether infants and toddlers should get costly new vaccines to prevent a form of meningitis caused by bacteria.

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