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Laura Norman

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Short Biography

Laura M. Norman is a Research Physical Scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey, where she has worked since 1998. She received her Ph.D. in Watershed Management from the University of Arizona (UA), minoring in Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis in 2005, where she also taught an introductory geographic information system (GIS) Laboratory for 4 years.  She graduated with a M.S. in Watershed Management, using the Advanced Resource Technology Option from the UA in 2000 and a B.S. in Forestry from Oregon State University in 1994, minoring in Cultural Anthropology.  Dr. Norman also has a degree certificate in Visual Basic Programming from Pima Community College (2002). 

Her research uses remotely sensed imagery and other geospatial data in complex models to predict the fate of non-point source pollutants and identify their sources, consider potential growth scenarios and identify watershed processes. This research has been tested in a historically mined area in the Patagonia Mountains of Arizona to track acid-mine drainage and employed on the U.S.-Mexico border, where virtual models can predict pollution rates and measure consequences of abatement under varying management regimes. Most recently she is using her skills to improve restoration-site selection and design, assess restoration efforts, and predict the effects of climate and land-use change. Norman has published several articles on environmental health, cross-border policy, regional planning, ecosystem services and restoration design.

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Norman, L. M., & Niraula, R. (2016). Model analysis of check dam impacts on long-term sediment and water budgets in Southeast Arizona, USA. Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology.

Wilson, N. R., Norman, L. M., Villarreal, M., Gass, L., Tiller, R., & Salywon, A. (2016). Comparison of remote sensing indices for monitoring of desert cienegas. Arid Land Research and Management, 1–19.

Villarreal, M. L., Norman, L. M., Buckley, S., Wallace, C. S. A., & Coe, M. (2016). Time series monitoring of drought and fire effects using a standardized greenness to cover metric. Accepted by Remote Sensing of Environment.



Yang, Z., Dominguez, F., Gupta, H., Zeng, X., & Norman, L. (2015). Urban Effects on Regional Climate: A Case Study in the Phoenix and Tucson “Sun” Corridor. Earth Interactions, 151027111902006.

Norman, L. M., Brinkerhoff, F., Gwilliam, E., Guertin, D. P., Callegary, J., Goodrich, D. C., Nagler, P.L., and Gray, F. (2015). Hydrologic Response of Streams Restored with Check Dams in the Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona. River Research and Applications, DOI: 10.1002/rra.2895; ISSN: 1535-1467

Niraula, Rewati, Thomas Meixner, and Laura M. Norman. 2015. “Determining the Importance of Model Calibration for Forecasting Absolute / Relative Changes in Streamflow from LULC and Climate Changes.” Journal of Hydrology, 522, 439–451. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.01.007 



Norman, Laura M., Miguel L. Villarreal, H. Ronald Pulliam, Robert Minckley, Leila Gass, Cindy Tolle, and Michelle Coe. 2014. “Remote Sensing Analysis of Riparian Vegetation Response to Desert Marsh Restoration in the Mexican Highlands.” Ecological Engineering 70C: 241–54. doi:10.1016/j.ecoleng.2014.05.012.

Villarreal, Miguel L., Robert H. Webb, Laura M. Norman, Jennifer L. Psillas, Abigail S. Rosenberg, Shinji Carmichael, Roy E. Petrakis, and Philip E. Sparks. 2014. “Modelling Landscape-Scale Erosion Potential Related to Vehicle Disturbances Along the U.s.-Mexico Border.” Land Degradation & Development, August. doi:10.1002/ldr.2317.



Norman, Laura M., Rudy Shuster, and Jean W. Parcher. 2013. “People in the Borderlands.” In Updike, R.G., Ellis, E.G., Page, W.R., Parker, M.J., Hestbeck, J.B., and Horak, W.F., (Eds.), 2012, United States–Mexican Borderlands—Facing Tomorrow’s Challenges through USGS Science, Chapter 6. Challenge Theme 4.:318. Circular 1380. U.S. Geological Survey.

Norman, Laura, Miguel Villarreal, Rewati Niraula, Thomas Meixner, George Frisvold, and William Labiosa. 2013. “Framing Scenarios of Binational Water Policy with a Tool to Visualize, Quantify and Valuate Changes in Ecosystem Services.” Water 5 (3): 852–74. doi:10.3390/w5030852.

Villarreal, Miguel L., Laura M. Norman, Kenneth G. Boykin, and Cynthia S.A. Wallace. 2013. “Biodiversity Losses and Conservation Trade-offs: Assessing Future Urban Growth Scenarios for a North American Trade Corridor.” International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 9 (2): 90–103. doi:10.1080/21513732.2013.770800.



Niraula, Rewati, Laura M. Norman, Thomas Meixner, and James Callegary. 2012. “Multi-gauge Calibration for Modeling the Semi-Arid Santa Cruz Watershed in Arizona-Mexico Border Area Using SWAT.” Air, Soil and Water Research, no. 5 (April): 41. doi:10.4137/ASWR.S9410.

Norman, Laura M., Felipe Caldeira, James Callegary, Floyd Gray, Mary Kay O’ Rourke, Veronica Meranza, and Saskia Rijn. 2012. “Socio-Environmental Health Analysis in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.” Water Quality, Exposure and Health, April. doi:10.1007/s12403-012-0067-x.

Norman, Laura M., Mark Feller, and Miguel L. Villarreal. 2012. “Developing Spatially Explicit Footprints of Plausible Land-use Scenarios in the Santa Cruz Watershed, Arizona and Sonora.” Landscape and Urban Planning 107 (3): 225–35. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2012.06.015.

Norman, Laura M., Miguel L. Villarreal, Francisco Lara-Valencia, Yongping Yuan, Wenming Nie, Sylvia Wilson, Gladys Amaya, and Rachel Sleeter. 2012. “Mapping Socio-environmentally Vulnerable Populations Access and Exposure to Ecosystem Services at the U.S.–Mexico Borderlands.” Applied Geography 34 (May): 413–24. doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2012.01.006.

Quijada-Mascareñas, Adrián, Charles van Riper III, Daniel L. James, Laura Lopez-Hoffman, Chris Sharp, Randy Gimblett, Michael L. Scott, Norman, L.M., Medellin, R., Callegary, J.B., et al.  2012. “Desarrollo de Un Programa de Monitoreo a Nivel Ecosistema En El Muro Fronterizo México-Estados Unidos.” In En Cordova, A. y C. de La Parra (coordinadores) El Muro Fronterizo Entre México y Estados Unidos. Espacios, Instrumentos y Actores Para Un Diálogo Constructivo. El Colegio de La Frontera Norte. . Pp ., 165–85. Tijuana, México.

Villarreal, Miguel L., Laura M. Norman, and William B. Labiosa. 2012. “Assessing the Vulnerability of Human and Biological Communities to Changing Ecosystem Services Using a GIS-based Multi-criteria Decision Support Tool.” In In R. Seppelt, A.A. Voinov, S. Lange, D. Bankamp (Eds.), International Environmental Modelling and Software Society (iEMSs) 2012 International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software. Managing Resources of a Limited Planet: Pathways and Visions Under Uncertainty, Sixth Biennial Meeting, 427–34. ISBN: 978-88-9035-742-8. Leipzig, Germany.

Villarreal, Miguel L., Leila Gass, Jack L. Childs, Laura M. Norman, Joel B. Sankey, and Cynthia S.A. Wallace. 2012. “Examining Wildlife Responses to Phenology and Wildfire Using a Landscape-scale Camera Trap Network.” In Proceedings of the Biodiversity and Management of the Madrean Archipelago III. Tucson, AZ.



Villarreal, Miguel L., Laura M. Norman, Cynthia S.A. Wallace, and Charles van Riper. 2011. “A Multitemporal (1979-2009) Land-Use/Land-Cover Dataset of the Binational Santa Cruz Watershed.”U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1131: 26.

Villarreal, Miguel L., Laura M. Norman, Robert H. Webb, Diane E. Boyer, and Raymond M. Turner. 2011. “Unravelling Long-term Vegetation Change Patterns in a Binational Watershed Using Multitemporal Land Cover Data and Historical Photography.” In , 101–4. IEEE. doi:10.1109/Multi-Temp.2011.6005058.

Wallace, Cynthia S.A., Miguel L. Villarreal, and Laura M. Norman. 2011. “Development of a High-Resolution Binational Vegetation Map of the Santa Cruz River Riparian Corridor and Surrounding Watershed, Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora, Mexico.” U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report2011-1143: 22.



Norman, L. M, H. Huth, L. Levick, I. Shea Burns, D. Phillip Guertin, F. LaraValencia, and D. Semmens. 2010. “Flood Hazard Awareness and Hydrologic Modelling at Ambos Nogales, United States–Mexico Border.” Journal of Flood Risk Management 3 (2): 151–65. doi:10.1111/j.1753-318X.2010.01066.x.

Norman, Laura M. 2010. “Urbanization and Environmental Health in Arizona Colonias.” In Donelson, A.J., and A.X. Esparza, (Ed.s). The Colonias Reader: Economy, Housing, and Public Health in US-Mexico Border Colonias, 204–17. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Norman, Laura M., James Callegary, Charles van Riper, and Floyd Gray. 2010. “The Border Environmental Health Initiative; Investigating the Transboundary Santa Cruz Watershed.” U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010-3097: 2.

Norman, Laura M., Lainie R Levick, D. Phillip Guertin, James B. Callegary, Jesus Quintanar Guadarrama, Claudia Zulema Gil Anaya, Andrea Prichard, et al. 2010. “Nogales Flood Detention Study.” U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1262: 112.

Norman, Laura M., Miguel L. Villarreal, Cynthia S.A. Wallace, Claudia Zulema Gil Anaya, Israel Diaz Arcos, and Floyd Gray. 2010. “A High-Resolution Land-Use Map: Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.” U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1156: 28.

Norman, Laura, Nita Tallent-Halsell, William Labiosa, Matt Weber, Amy McCoy, Katie Hirschboeck, James Callegary, Charles van Riper, and Floyd Gray. 2010. “Developing an Ecosystem Services Online Decision Support Tool to Assess the Impacts of Climate Change and Urban Growth in the Santa Cruz Watershed; Where We Live, Work, and Play.” Sustainability 2 (7): 2044–69. doi:10.3390/su2072044.



Norman, L.M., I.S. Burns, L. Levick, and J.B. Callegary. 2009. “Planning Land and Water-Resource Management in the Upper Santa Cruz Watershed, Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.” In Papers from the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers- 2009.

Norman, Laura M., Mark Feller, and D. Phillip Guertin. 2009. “Forecasting Urban Growth Across the United States–Mexico Border.” Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 33 (2): 150–59. doi:10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2008.10.003.



Gu, A., F. Gray, C.J. Eastoe, L.M. Norman, O. Duarte, and A. Long. 2008. “Tracing Ground Water Input to Base Flow Using Sulfate (S, O) Isotopes.” Ground Water 46 (3): 502–9.

Norman, Laura, D. Guertin, and Mark Feller. 2008. “A Coupled Model Approach to Reduce Nonpoint-Source Pollution Resulting from Predicted Urban Growth: A Case Study in the Ambos Nogales Watershed.”Urban Geography 29 (5): 496–516. doi:10.2747/0272-3638.29.5.496.

Norman, Laura M., Derrick D. Hirsch, and A. Wesley Ward. 2008. Proceedings of a USGS Workshop on Facing Tomorrow’s Challenges Along the U.S.-Mexico Border—Monitoring, Modeling, and Forecasting Change Within the Arizona-Sonora Transboundary Watersheds. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1322. Tucson, AZ, U.S.A.

Norman, Laura M., and Cynthia S.A. Wallace. 2008. “Mapping Land Use/land Cover in the Ambos Nogales Study Area.” U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1378: 42.



Norman, Laura M. 2007. “United StatesMexican Border Watershed Assessment: Modeling Nonpoint Source Pollution in Ambos Nogales.” Journal of Borderlands Studies 22 (1): 79–97. doi:10.1080/08865655.2007.9695670.

Norman, Laura M., Floyd Gray, D. Phillip Guertin, Craig Wissler, and James D. Bliss. 2007. “Tracking Acid Mine-drainage in Southeast Arizona Using GIS and Sediment Delivery Models.” Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 145 (1-3): 145–57. doi:10.1007/s10661-007-0024-5.



Lam, A., L. Norman, and A. Donelson. 2006. “Accessible Information Technology for Equitable Community Planning.” Equity and Sustainable Development: Reflections from the US-Mexico Border. San Diego, CA, Center for US-Mexican Studies, 287–304.

Norman, Laura M., Angela Donelson, Edwin Pfeifer, and Alven H. Lam. 2006. “Colonia Development and Land Use Change in Ambos Nogales, United States - Mexican Border.” U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006-1112: 121. 

Norman, L., Gishey, M., Gass, L., Yanites, B., Pfeifer, E., Simms, R., & Ahlbrandt, R. (2006). Processed 1938 Aerial Photography for Selected Areas of the Lower Colorado River, Southwestern United States. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report, 2006-1141, 116. (

Parcher, J.W., L.M. Norman, D.M. Papoulias, J.E. Stefanov, Z.D. Wilson, W.R. Page, and R.H. Gary. 2006.Developing a Binational Geodatabase to Examine Environmental Health and Quality-of-Life Issues Along the U. S.-Mexico Border. GSDI Association, National Land Survey of Finland Opastinsilta 12-C Helsinki 00521 Finland.



Norman, Laura M. 2005. “Modeling Land Use Change and Associate Water Quality Impacts in the Ambos Nogales Watershed, United States-Mexico Border”. THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA.



Norman, Laura M., Angela J. Donelson, Edwin Pfeifer, Alven H. Lam, and Kenneth J. Osborn. 2004. “Analyses of Urban Sprawl and Colonias Development in Douglas, Arizona & Agua Prieta, Sonora on the US-Mexico Border; A Process Application Using GIS and Remote Sensing.” U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2004-1212.

Norman, Laura M., D. Phillip Guertin, D.P. Hernández, A.S. Barnett, and Kelly Ashton-Reis. 2004. “Binational Digital Soils Map of the Ambos Nogales Watershed, Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora, Mexico.” U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2004-1335.

Norman, Laura M., J.W. Parcher, and Alven H. Lam. 2004. “Monitoring Colonias Along the United States Mexico Border.” U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet USGS FS 2004-3070 –Colonias.



Brady, Laura M., Floyd Gray, Mario Castaneda, Mark Bultman, and Karen Sue Bolm. 2002. “Preliminary United States - Mexico Border Watershed Analysis, Twin Cities Area Of Nogales, Arizona And Nogales, Sonora.” U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report OF 02-112.

Norman, L., C. Wissler, D.P. Guertin, and F. Gray. 2002. “Digital Soils Survey Map of the Patagonia Mountains, Arizona.” Open-File Report-US Geological Survey (02-324) Reston: US Department of the Interior, US Geological Survey 24.



Brady, Laura M., Floyd Gray, Craig Wissler, and D. Phillip Guertin. 2001. “Spatial Variability of Sediment Erosion Processes Using GIS Analysis Within Watersheds in a Historically Mined Region, Patagonia Mountains, Arizona.” U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 01-267.



Brady, Laura M. 2000. “GIS Analysis of Spatial Variability of Contaminated Watershed Components in a Historically Mined Region, Basin And Range Province, Southeast Arizona”. Master thesis, Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona.


Gray, Floyd, Laura M. Brady, Kerry Caruthers, Ailiang Gu, C. Velex, Karen Sue Bolm, Maurice Chaffee, and Laurie Wirt. 2000. USDA Forest Service Preliminary Assessment (PA) Report on the Alum Gulch-Flux Canyon Watershed Within the Northern Patagonia Mountains, Southeastern Arizona. U.S. Geological Survey Administrative Report.







My Science Topics

Science Topic
Geographic Analysis and Mappinggeospatial analysis
Geographic Analysis and Mappingremote sensing
Geographic Analysis and Mappingspatial analysis
Water Resourcesrunoff
Water Resourcessediment transport
Water Resourcessurface water
Water Resourcessurface water quality
Water Resourceswater quality
Water Resourceswater supply and demand
Water Resourcesdrainage basins
Ecology and Environmentecosystems
Ecology and Environmentenvironmental assessment
Environmental Issuesabandoned mines and quarries
Environmental Issuescontamination and pollution
Environmental Issueshealth and disease
Environmental Issueshuman impacts
Environmental Issuesindustrial pollution
Environmental Issuesland use
Environmental Issuesland use change
Environmental Issuesmine drainage
Environmental Issuesnonpoint-source pollution
Environmental Issuessurface water quality
Environmental Issueswater quality
Natural Hazardsfires
Natural Hazardsfloods
Natural Resourcesforest resources
Natural Resourcesnatural resource management
Natural Resourceswater resources
Techniques and Methodsgeographic information systems (GIS)
Techniques and Methodsimage analysis
Techniques and Methodsremote sensing
Techniques and Methodsrisk assessment
Techniques and Methodsstatistical analysis

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

A Water Census of the United States

Climate Variability & Change

The Role of Environment and Wildlife in Human Health

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

Strategic Planning for Sustainable Development

According to a climate-change-model consensus, the most severely affected region of the United States will stretch across the Southwest from southern California to west Texas and intensifies even more over northern Sonora, Mexico. Limited rainfall, reliance on ground water, high rates of population growth and poverty combine with a complex binational, bicultural environment to place unique pressures on human and ecosystem health in the US-Mexico border.  Managing shared water resources requires cooperation in assessing and understanding these resources and their impact on human and ecosystem health. Urban development, mineral contamination, irrigation, sewage effluent, and global climate change all have the potential to alter the stability of the fragile systems in the borderland region.

Inequitable distributions of environmental burdens including pollution and industrial facilities have been identified along the U.S.-Mexico border. Environmental goods like nutritious food, clean air and water, parks, recreation, health care, education, and transportation are not always available to borderland residents. Participation in the decision-making processes is a key component of environmental justice that can be addressed using a decision support tool and an ecosystem services approach.  In 1994, Executive Order 12898 mandated that federal agencies make environmental justice part of their mission, by focusing on the human health and environment relationship that exists in lower socio-economic and high minority communities.

Contact Information

Laura Norman
520 North Park Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85719
520-670-5113 - Fax
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