Listen

Rhitu Chatterjee

Rhitu Chatterjee is a reporter and editor on NPR's Science Desk, where she reports the latest news and feature stories on science, health, and the environment. She also generates ideas for series or themes for the desk to explore, and periodically edits the science team on both radio and digital platforms.

In her role, Chatterjee has reported on the reasons behind a disturbing health statistic in America — the unusually high rate of infant death among African Americans. In her previous role as an editor for NPR's The Salt, she produced one of her favorite projects, a short online food video series called "Hot Pot: A Dish. A Memory," which featured dishes from a particular country as made by a person who grew up with the dish. The series was produced in collaboration with NPR's Goats & Soda blog.

Before coming to NPR, Chatterjee reported on current affairs from New Delhi for PRI's The World, and covered science and health news for Science Magazine. Before that, she was based in Boston as a science correspondent with PRI's The World. She has also worked as a freelancer and correspondent for NPR's Science Desk. She began her career covering environmental news and policy for Environmental Science & Technology.

Throughout her career, Chatterjee has reported on everything from basic scientific discoveries to issues at the intersection of science, society and culture. She has covered the legacy of the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984, the world's largest industrial disaster. She has reported on a mysterious epidemic of chronic kidney disease in Sri Lanka and India. While in New Delhi, she also covered women's issues. Her reporting went beyond the breaking news headlines about sexual violence to document the underlying social pressures faced by Indian girls and women. She has done numerous stories on how a growing number of Indian women are fighting for better opportunities in education and in the workplace and trying to make the country a safer place for future generations of women.

She has won two reporting grants from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and was awarded a certificate of merit by the Gabriel Awards in 2014.

Chatterjee has mentored student fellows by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, as well as young journalists for the Society of Environmental Journalists' mentorship program. She's also taught science writing at the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop.

She did her undergraduate work in Darjeeling, India. And she has two master's degrees—a master of science in biotechnology from Visva-Bharati in India, and a master of arts in journalism from the University of Missouri.

Somewhere around 300,000 years ago, our human ancestors in parts of Africa began to make small, sharp tools, using stone flakes that they created using a technique called Levallois.

The technology, named after a suburb of Paris where tools made this way were first discovered, was a profound upgrade from the bigger, less-refined tools of the previous era, and marks the Middle Stone Age in Africa and the Middle Paleolithic era in Europe and western Asia.

Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the oldest fossil of a modern human outside Africa. The fossil suggests that humans first migrated out of the continent much earlier than previously believed.