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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. 


  • Ecological Restoration of Abandoned Mine Lands, 2022 – present.
  • 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


  • Affiliated/Joint Faculty, Watershed Management and Ecohydrology Programs, School of Natural Resources & the Environment, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, The 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) adviser (FY16 - present).
  • Paul D. Coverdell Fellow (M.S.) mentor (FY19 - present).
  • Fulbright Garcia-Robles (Ph.D.) mentor (FY22-23)
  • Graduate Advisor to students (M.S. and Ph.D.).  


Professional Experience

  • 2014 – Current: Supervisory Research Physical Scientist, USGS Western Geographic Science Center (WGSC)

  • 2009 – 2014: Research Physical Scientist, USGS WGSC

  • 2005 – 2009:  Physical Scientist (TERM/PERM), USGS WGSC

  • 2000 - 2005: Physical Scientist, USGS Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), USGS Minerals Program, Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center (GMEGSC)

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

  • 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, Adjunct status (Designated Campus Colleague), University of Arizona (1998-Present).

  • Arizona Floodplain Management Association - 2021+

  • American Water Resources Association (AWRA) - 2020 +

  • Society for Ecological Restoration - 2014 +

  • Western Social Science 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) for eminence in design and 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  Senior FellowBorderlands Restoration Network 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).

Science and Products

*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government