KSQD 90.7 FM Santa Cruz
KSQD 90.7 FM Santa Cruz
50 Years of Natural History at UCSC
In this interview, we speak with Chris Lay, director of the Norris Center for Natural History, and alumni Dmitri Rodriguez and Shoo Selasky about the impact the natural history field quarter has had on their lives.

UCSC’s strong tradition of natural history education and research is due in no small part to Professor Kenneth S. Norris (1924-1998).  Through his ground-breaking research, inspired teaching and mentorship, and charismatic leadership, Norris left a huge legacy that continues to benefit thousands of students and researchers worldwide. The Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History will continue to support many of Professor’s Norris’ endeavors as well as take his vision for natural history education and research to a broader community and state-wide level.

Browse our website to learn more about Ken, or read a biography about him by UCSC undergraduate Christopher Santomero in 2015.

Throughout his career, he wrote many books exploring his research and path towards discovery:

  • The Porpoise Watcher (1974)
  • Dolphin Days: The Life and Times of the Spinner Dolphin (1991)
  • The Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin (1994)
  • Mountain Time (2010)
This coming year will mark the 50th spring since Ken Norris started the first natural history field course at UC Santa Cruz. To commemorate this remarkable milestone, the Norris Center is planning a series of events this year: 50 Years of Wonder, Celebrating the First Half Century of Natural History at UC Santa Cruz. At this first of four events, we will make a brief announcement/invitation to all our students/alumni to join us at our series of events over the next six months. These events will culminate in a large in-person gathering on June 3–5, 2022.

At this first virtual event, we have invited author and wildlife biologist Dr. J. Drew Lanham to speak to the UC Santa Cruz natural history community about the convergence of the environmental and social justice movements. In many ways, we at UC Santa Cruz are a developing example of the convergence of what these two movements look like at the university level. For example, we have two of our themed residential colleges named after luminaries in both movements: Rachel Carson College and our recently named John Lewis College. With this background in mind, we have asked Dr. Lanham to speak to us about this and other related ideas in his recent essay “A Convergent Imagining”.We encourage everyone attending this talk to first read Dr. Lanham’s essay. Dr. Lanham will first talk more about how these two movements can positively influence the other, how we might better teach natural history to include and inspire future naturalists from all backgrounds, and what he thinks the next 50 years of natural history/environmentalism will look like. After his talk, there will be a short question and answer session. To register: https://ucsc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_blO2LszjQpaZTQQRA1IsjQ