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Laura M Norman, Ph.D.

Dr. Laura M. Norman is a Supervisory Research Physical Scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey, where she has worked since 1998. Her research combines remotely-sensed imagery and other geospatial data in complex hydrological, hydraulic, and LULC models to predict the source, fate, and transport of non-point source pollutants, consider potential growth scenarios, and document impacts of change.

Laura couples methods and models across scientific disciplines to allow for a synthesis of results that simulate and communicate risk, impacts of land-use and climate change, and proposed interventions. She has conducted international research for decades, with focus on transboundary watersheds of the US-Mexico border and Tribal lands, where environmental and socioeconomic stressors disproportionately affect human health, well-being, and quality of life. Most recently her research is being used to help establish best management practices in arid lands; characterize trade-offs between ecological, economic, and social values for land use decision support; and the establishment of a binational monitoring and tracking strategy for mitigation of flood risk. She has published over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles on a wide-range of topics including cross-border policy, regional planning, climate resilience, environmental justice, restoration design, ecosystem services, hydrologic modeling, and watershed management. 


  • Aridland Water Harvesting Study, 2013 - present.
  • Tribal Land Vegetation and Watershed Modeling, 2018 - present.
  • Santa Cruz Watershed Ecosystem Portfolio Model (SCWEPM), 2010 - 2013. 
  • Western Region- Border Environmental Health Initiative (BEHI), 2008 - 2012. 
  • Predicting Environmental Consequences of Urban Development on the US-Mexico Border, 2004 – 2010.
  • Geospatial Analysis of the Lower Colorado River, 2004 - 2007


  • Academic Affiliate, Adjunct status (Designated Campus Colleague),  School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona (1998-Present).
  • Lab Instructor & Teaching Assistant, GIS for Natural Resources (RNR 417/517). University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ (08/00-12/04). 
  • NASA Space Grant Mentor (2010-2011).
  • USGS Mendenhall Fellow (Post-Doc) mentor (FY12-13).
  • NSF Graduate Research Internship Program (GRIP) mentor (FY16 - present).
  • Paul D. Coverdell Fellow (M.S.) mentor (FY19 - present).
  • Graduate Advisor to students (M.S. and Ph.D.).  


Professional Experience

  • 2005 – present: Research Physical Scientist, USGS Western Geographic Science Center

  • 2000 - 2005: Physical Scientist, USGS Student Career Experience Program (SCEP)

  • 1998 - 2000: Research Assistant, Geospatial Analyst, USGS Minerals Program (Contracted)

  • 1999 – 2004: Research Assistant/ GIS Lab Instructor, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.

Education and Certifications

  • Ph.D. Watershed Resources, Minor in Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, University of Arizona, 2005

  • Cert. in Computer Programming, Visual Basic, Pima Community College, 2001

  • M.S. Watershed Management, Advanced Resource Technology Option, University of Arizona, 2000

  • B.S.  Forestry, Minor in Cultural Anthropology, Oregon State University, 1994

Affiliations and Memberships

  • Academic Affiliate, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona (1997- Present)

  • Arizona Floodplain Management Association - 2021+

  • American Water Resources Association (AWRA) - 2020 +

  • Society for Ecological Restoration - 2014 +

  • National Ground Water Association - 2009

  • National Ground Water Association - 2009

  • American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing– 2009

Honors and Awards

  • Selected as Climate Embassy Science Fellow by U.S. Department of State, to reduce vulnerability and increase local capacity, to respond to flooding and drought at Nogales, Sonora, Mexico (2021).

  • Awarded William C. Ackermann Medal for Excellence in Water Management by American Water Resources Association (AWRA) eminence in design and/or exemplary water management practices (2021).

  • Awarded USGS Excellence in Leadership Award for protecting threatened water resources of the US-Mexico Borderlands and developing and fostering collaborative relationships and partnerships (2020)

  • Nominated/serving on USGS Ecosystems Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Group and USGS Southwest Region's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team (2021).

  • Nominated Borderlands Restoration Network Senior Fellow, to help restoration economy, ecosystems, and border communities through shared learning (2019 - present).

  • Elected President, Society for Ecological Restoration, Southwest Chapter (SER-SW) to facilitate communication of land managers, researchers, and restorationists in SW USA (2014-2017).

  • Elected as Region Director, Southwest US Region of American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) (2010-2012).

  • Selected for USGS Student Career Experience Program (SCEP; 2000- 2005).

  • Research Assistantship at University of Arizona, in GIS development, design, and application of cartographic and spatial analysis for agriculture, natural resources, and rural development (1999-2000).

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