Staff Spotlight: Emily Norton

Research Scientist

Emily NortonEmily Norton, the newest member of JISAO, joined the J-SCOPE team as a researcher in May 2017.  Her work at the University of Washington focuses on understanding how ocean conditions change seasonally and how these changes impact various fish species.  Specifically, she works closely with Dr. Samantha Siedlecki to run a coastal ocean model that forecasts ocean conditions 6-9 months in advance as part of the J-SCOPE project team.  These projections are used to forecast the distribution of different fish species in collaboration with scientists at NOAA.  These forecasts have implications for management of the fisheries.  Emily is passionate about working at the nexus between science and management, so she is very excited to join this team!

Growing up in the land-locked state of West Virginia, Emily did not have frequent opportunities to visit the coast, yet she relished her family's vacations on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.  Like many children with good imaginations, she became curious about what lurked below the surface of the murky waters.  While attending Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, she fostered this curiosity by enrolling in marine biology classes and conducting independent research at the Coastal Studies Center on Orr's Island.  As she learned more, she became further intrigued by the mysteries of the ocean and more concerned about how it was changing, so she decided to pursue a higher degree in oceanography.  The summer prior to entering graduate school, Emily attended the Larval Ecology course at Friday Harbor Laboratories, which expanded her ecological field work methodologies and mathematical modeling skills.  Emily's interest in ocean modeling continued to grow as she earned her master's degree in oceanography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  For her master's thesis, Emily used genetics and biophysical modeling to investigate the mechanisms that drive connectivity in circumglobally distributed copepods.  Although she whole-heartedly enjoyed this work, including the adventurous research cruises, she wanted to better understand how (or if) scientific research is used to shape marine policy and inform coastal management.  Thus, she applied for and was awarded a NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship.  During her two-year fellowship, she Emily on the Olympic Peninsulaworked in the State of Maine's Coastal Program to develop and run a seafloor mapping program to inform ocean planning.  She learned a lot about the diverse factors that influence policy and management and realized that there are still large data gaps that need to be addressed before managers can make well-informed decisions. Ultimately Emily decided that her skills would be best used in doing science, in collaboration with managers, to help fill these gaps.    

In her spare time, Emily enjoys being outdoors, especially hiking with friends and swimming in the ocean (as long as it's not too cold).  Having never lived on the West Coast before, she is eager to explore the natural treasures of the Pacific Northwest and western Canada.  When it gets dreary outside, you can find her swing dancing at the Century Ballroom.