Joel Achenbach

Washington, D.C.

Reporter covering science and politics

Education: Princeton University, politics, 1982

Joel Achenbach writes about science and politics for The Washington Post's National desk. He has been a staff writer for The Post since 1990. He started the newsroom’s first online column, Rough Draft, in 1999, and started’s first blog, Achenblog, in 2005. He has been a regular contributor to National Geographic since 1998, writing on such topics as dinosaurs, particle physics, earthquakes, extraterrestrial life, megafauna extinction and the electrical grid. A 1982 graduate of Princeton University, he has taught journalism at Princeton and at Georgetown University.
Latest from Joel Achenbach

Covid was fourth leading cause of death in 2022, CDC data shows

Covid remained remarkably deadly, killing more than 500 people a day in 2022, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

May 4, 2023

NASA goes full throttle on Mars, but hits speed bumps on road to Venus

At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, leadership is steering this storied institution through an unusually rocky period

May 2, 2023

See the sharpest image yet of a supermassive black hole

The image can help theorists better understand the physics of black holes, while the technology used to create it can be applied to other types of research.

April 13, 2023

What we know about the origin of covid-19, and what remains a mystery

Where did the virus most likely come from, and who is investigating its source? Here’s what we know so far.

April 5, 2023

Genetic data links raccoon dogs to covid origin; WHO seeks China cooperation

A sample taken in a Wuhan market in early 2020 holds genetic traces of both the coronavirus and a small canid known as a raccoon dog, scientists report

March 17, 2023

America shut down in response to covid. Would we ever do it again?

The decision to shut down much of the country early in the pandemic remains highly contested, sparking concern about how we'll respond to the next viral threat

March 10, 2023

Covid backlash hobbles public health and future pandemic response

Lawsuits and legislation fueled by covid backlash have stripped public health officials of powers, leaving the United States unprepared for the next pandemic.

March 8, 2023

Wine grapes were first domesticated 11,000 years ago, gene study says

One of the largest genetic studies of grapevines suggests that domestication happened twice, independently, in the Caucasus region and western Asia.

March 2, 2023

Strange DNA found in the desert offers lessons in the hunt for Mars life

“In almost half of the cases, the databases could not clearly say what we had in our hands,” said researchers studying rocks from the Atacama Desert in Chile.

February 21, 2023

‘Historic Arctic outbreak’ crushes records in New England

Mount Washington in New Hampshire logged the U.S.'s coldest wind chill ever recorded: minus-108.

February 4, 2023