Richard Norris

Office: 301 Vaughan Hall
Phone:  858-822-1868
Fax:     858-534-3310


My research deals with the diversification of life, "rules" that govern macroevolution, and the evolutionary dynamics of open ocean plankton. I also have an extensive research program on climate and evolution during periods of past warm climates.

I am particularly interested in: (1) the processes that initiate large-scale evolutionary trends, (2) the role of environmental change in structuring the biogeography and diversity of species, and (3) the mode of species formation and extinction in the open ocean as a contrast with much more intensively studied terrestrial systems. I also work on the climate and evolutionary dynamics of periods of "extreme climate", such as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, The Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary, and the Cretaceous Climatic Optimum, as well as the impact of climate variability on modern ecosystems and human society. These studies are focused on reconstruction of surface temperatures, deep ocean circulation, and terrestrial climate/disturbance proxies.

I was an undergraduate in Earth Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, obtained a Master's of Science degree at University of Arizona, Tucson, and my Ph.D. at Harvard University in geology. In between these academic programs I worked on the Condor Recovery Project for the State of California and as director of the NRS Granite Mountain Reserve for the University of California. Following graduate training, I was a research scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts until I became a professor at UCSD in 2002. As a child, I lived in Hawaii and Chile. Today, I have field research interests in the geology, paleontology, and natural history of California, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. I have also been a proponent and co-chief scientist for numerous oceanographic cruises of the Ocean Drilling Program and Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.

Dr Norris is featured in:
Joides Resolution: Expedition 342:  Science in search of Earth's secrets

The sediments being collected on Expedition 342 records Paleogene changes in both global climate as well as shifting ocean currents.

Explorations Magazine - Earth to Kids - July 2007
Explorations Magazine:  History's Warning including video.  Dr. Norris talks about the potential lessons we can derive from the story of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

Overview of SIO Dredged Rock Collections
Overview of SIO Cored Sediment and Microfossil collection

Selected Publications
1. Norris, R. D., and de Vargas, C., 2000, Evolution all at sea: Nature 405, 4 May 2000, 23-24.
2. Norris, R.D., Evolving shapes: ecological evolution in planktic foraminifera: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Reports on Research 1, 17-19, 1992.
3. Norris, R.D., So you thought extinction was forever? Oceanus 35, (4) 96-99, 1993. 
4. Norris, R.D, Records of the Apocalypse: ODP drills the K/T Boundary. p. 9, ODP's Greatest Hits,  Kappel, E. and Farrell, J. (eds.), Joint Oceanographic Institutions. 1997.
5. Norris, R.D., 1997, High Resolution environmental and biotic changes at the K-T boundary.  McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology, 1997.
6. Norris, R.D., and the Leg 171B Science Party. Critical Boundaries in Earth's history-and the K-T boundary. JOIDES Journal 23 (1): 1-3. 1997.

Curriculum Vitae (Dowload pdf)
Full publications list (Download pdf)