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Laura Norman

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Short Biography


Laura Norman is a Research Physical Scientist in the Western Geographic Science Center who obtained her doctorate in Watershed Resources, minoring in Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, from the University of Arizona in Tucson.  Her Masters was in Watershed Management, also from the U of A, and her Bachelors from Oregon State University, in Forestry.  Dr. Norman has been with the USGS since 1998, working primarily along the US-Mexico Border, examining the fate and transport of industrial, urban, and mining pollution in surface waters, their sources and sinks, and relationship with human populations.  The focus of her work is investigating strategic planning for sustainable development. 

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Norman, Laura M., Villarreal, Miguel L., Niraula, Rewati, Meixner, Thomas, Frisvold, George, Labiosa, William. (2013). "Framing Scenarios of Binational Water Policy with a Tool to Visualize, Quantify and Valuate Changes in Ecosystem Services." Water 5, no. 3: 852-874. (Also available online at

Norman, Laura M., Shuster, Rudy, and Parcher, Jean. (2013). Chapter 6. Challenge Theme 4. 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: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1380, 318 p., 1 pl.. (Also available online at

Villarreal, M. L., Norman, L. M., Boykin, K. G., & Wallace, C. S. A. (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, 0(0), 1–14. doi:10.1080/21513732.2013.770800.  (Also available online at


Niraula, R., Norman, L. M., Meixner, T., & Callegary, J. (2012). Multi-gauge Calibration for modeling the Semi-Arid Santa Cruz Watershed in Arizona-Mexico Border Area Using SWAT. Air, Soil and Water Research, 41. doi:10.4137/ASWR.S9410   (Also available online at

Norman, L.M., Caldeira, F., Callegary, J., Gray, F., O’ Rourke, M. K., Meranza, V., & Rijn, S. (2012). Socio-Environmental Health Analysis in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Water Quality, Exposure and Health. doi:10.1007/s12403-012-0067-x  (Also available online at 

Norman, L. M., Feller, M., & Villarreal, M. L. (2012). Developing spatially explicit footprints of plausible land-use scenarios in the Santa Cruz Watershed, Arizona and Sonora. Landscape and Urban Planning, 107(3), 225–235. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2012.06.015  (Also available online at

Norman, L.M., Villarreal, M. L., Lara-Valencia, F., Yuan, Y., Nie, W., Wilson, S., Amaya, G., and Sleeter, R. (2012). Mapping socio-environmentally vulnerable populations access and exposure to ecosystem services at the U.S.–Mexico borderlands. Applied Geography, 34(0), 413–424. doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2012.01.006 (Also available online at

Villarreal, M.L., Gass, L., Childs, J.L., Norman, L.M., Sankey, J.B., and Wallace, C.S.A. (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: Merging Science and Management in a Rapidly Changing World, May 1-5, Tucson, AZ.

Villarreal, M.L., Norman, L.M., and Labiosa, W.B. (2012). Assessing the vulnerability of human and biological communities to changing ecosystem services using a GIS-based multi-criteria decision support tool. pp. 427-434 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, Leipzig, Germany. ISBN: 978-88-9035-742-8.  (Also available online at


Villarreal, M.L., Norman, L.M., Wallace, C.S.A., and van Riper, Charles, III, (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 p.  (Also available online at 

Villarreal, Miguel L., Norman, L. M., Webb, R. H., Boyer, D. E., & Turner, R. M. (2011). Unravelling long-term vegetation change patterns in a binational watershed using multitemporal land cover data and historical photography (pp. 101–104). IEEE. doi:10.1109/Multi-Temp.2011.6005058

Wallace, C.S.A., Villarreal, M.L., and Norman, L.M., 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 Report 2011-1143, 22 p. and data files. (Also available online at


Norman, Laura, (2010). Urbanization and Environmental Health in Arizona Colonias; In Donelson, A. J., & Esparza, A. X. The colonias reader: economy, housing, and public health in US-Mexico border colonias. Univ of Arizona Pr.

Norman, Laura M., Callegary, J., van Riper, C., & Gray, F. (2010). The Border Environmental Health Initiative; investigating the transboundary Santa Cruz watershed. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet, 2010-3097, 2.  (Also available online at

Norman, L. M, Huth, H., Levick, L., Shea Burns, I., Phillip Guertin, D., LaraValencia, F., & Semmens, D. (2010).  Flood hazard awareness and hydrologic modelling at Ambos Nogales, United States–Mexico border. Journal of Flood Risk Management, 3(2), 151–165. doi:10.1111/j.1753-318X.2010.01066.x  (Also available online at

Norman, L.M., Levick, L., Guertin, D.P., Callegary, J., Quintanar Guadarrama, J., Zulema Gil Anaya, C., Prichard, A., Gray, F., Castellanos, E., Tepezano, E., Huth, H., Vandervoet, P., Rodriguez, S., Nunez, J., Atwood, D., Patricio Olivero Granillo, G., and Octavio Gastelum Ceballos, F., (2010). Nogales flood detention study: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1262, 112 p.  (Also available online at

Norman, Laura, Tallent-Halsell, N., Labiosa, W., Weber, M., McCoy, A., Hirschboeck, K., Callegary, J., van Riper, C, and Gray, F. (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), 2044–2069. doi:10.3390/su2072044  (Also available online at

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


Norman, L. M, Feller, M., & Phillip Guertin, D. (2009). Forecasting urban growth across the United States-Mexico border. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 33(2), 150–159. (Also available online at


Gu, A., Gray, F., Eastoe, C. J., Norman, L. M., Duarte, O., & Long, A. (2008). Tracing ground water input to base flow using sulfate (S, O) isotopes. Ground Water, 46(3), 502–509.  (Also available online at

Norman, L.M., Guertin, D. P., & Feller, M. (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.  (Also available online at

Norman, Laura M., Hirsch, D. D., & Ward, A. W. (ed.s). 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, 63 p. (Also available online at

Norman, L.M., and Wallace, C.S.A., 2008, Mapping land use/land cover in the Ambos Nogales study area:  U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1378, 42 p. (Also available online at


Norman, Laura M., Gray, F., Guertin, D. P., Wissler, C., & Bliss, J. D. (2007). Tracking acid mine-drainage in Southeast Arizona using GIS and sediment delivery models. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 145(1-3), 145–157. doi:10.1007/s10661-007-0024-5. (Also available online at

Norman, Laura M., (2007). United States-Mexican Border Watershed Assessment: Modeling Nonpoint Source Pollution in Ambos Nogales, Journal of Borderland Studies 22 (1): 20 p. (Also available online at


Lam, A., Norman, L., & Donelson, A. (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., Donelson, A., Pfeifer, E., & Lam, A. H. (2006). Colonia Development and Land Use Change in Ambos Nogales, United States - Mexican Border. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006-1112, 121.  (Also available at

Parcher, J. W., Norman, L. M., Papoulias, D. M., Stefanov, J. E., Wilson, Z. D., Page, W. R., & Gary, R. H. (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 Margaret (2005). Modeling Land Use Change and Associate Water Quality Impacts in the Ambos Nogales Watershed, U.S.-Mexico Border.  Dissertation. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. 216 p.


Norman, L.M., Guertin, D.P., Hernández, D.P., Barnett, A.S. and Ashton-Reis, K., (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. (Also available at

Norman, L.M., Parcher, J.W., & Lam, A.H. (2004). Monitoring Colonias Along the United States Mexico Border. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet, 2004-3070 –Colonias. (Also available online at

Norman, L.M., Donelson, A., Pfeifer, E., Lam, A.H., and Osborn, K.J., (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.  (Also available online at


Norman, L., Wissler, C., Guertin, D. P., & Gray, F. (2002). Digital Soils Survey Map of the Patagonia Mountains, Arizona. US Geological Survey Open-File Report 02-324, 24. (Also available online at

Brady, L.M., Gray, F., Castaneda, M., Boltman, M., and Bolm, K.S., (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. (Also available online at


Brady, L.M., Gray, F., Wissler, C.A. and Guertin, D.P., (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.  (Also available online at


Gray, F., Brady, L.M., Caruthers, K., Gu, A., Velez, C., Bolm, K., Chaffee, M., and Wirt, L., (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, December 2000.

Brady, L.M., (2000). GIS Analysis of Spatial Variability of Contaminated Watershed Components in a Historically Mined Region, Basin And Range Province, Southeast Arizona: Tucson, University of Arizona, Master thesis, 127 p.


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 N. Park Ave, Suite 221
Tucson, AZ 85719
520-670-5113 - Fax
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