Welcome to the Norris Center

The Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History supports natural history educational and research opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and the greater Santa Cruz community. Established in 2014 through a lead endowment gift from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Norris Center builds upon the contributions that Professor Ken Norris and others made to the field of natural history at UCSC.

Vision and Goals

Our vision is for the Norris Center to be widely recognized as the center for natural history training and research in the state of California and to be a key contributor to national and international discussions about natural history training. We accomplish this through efforts in these four key areas:

1. Expanding Opportunities for UCSC Undergraduates to Become Skilled Natural Historians

We provide a vibrant center that is a campus hub where a growing number of students can do the peer-to-peer teaching and cross-disciplinary natural history learning that Ken Norris espoused. We build upon and expand our offerings of natural history-based courses, research projects, and internships. To engage a greater diversity of students in natural history, we work to expose undergraduates to natural history training opportunities early in their college careers and increase the number of scholarships and work-study opportunities available.

2. Engaging and Connecting with the Broader Community

We promote engagement with the natural world in the broader community through publications, digital catalogs of collections, identification tools, open houses, seminars, meetings, classes for community members, citizen-science initiatives, and collaborations with other organizations. UCSC students gain important career skills by participating in the creation and development of these programs, materials, and exhibits. We develop a professional network through which we provide employers with highly trained students and recent graduates and employers provide our students with internships and job opportunities.

3. Curating Strategic Natural History Collections

We curate important key natural history collections and promote their use for research projects conducted by undergraduate and graduate students, faculty at UCSC and other institutions, and community members. A high priority for curation and research is the unique, 70,000+ insect collection compiled by renowned local naturalist, Randy Morgan.

4. Training the Trainers

To further our impact, we plan to research the effectiveness of field-based natural history education including the methods used by Professor Norris, develop cutting-edge tools and approaches that enhance and foster field-based natural history learning, and create materials and courses to train the people who teach natural history courses here and at other universities and venues.

Click here to download the Norris Center short brochure.

Click here to download the Norris Center long brochure.