Brenda Norcross

Brenda Norcross

Professor Emeritus

College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
Institute of Marine Science
131 O'Neill
Fairbanks, AK 99701
907-474-1943 (fax)


College of William and Mary
Ph.D. Marine Science

St. Louis University
M.S. Biology

MacMurray College
B.A. Biology


Curriculum Vitae




Gray, B.P., B.L. Norcross, A.H. Beaudreau, A.L. Blanchard and A.C. Seitz. (2017). "Food habits of Arctic staghorn sculpin (Gymnocanthus tricuspis) and shorthorn sculpin (Myoxocephalus scorpius) in the northeastern Chukchi and western Beaufort Seas". Deep Sea Research II. 135:111-123.

Grebmeier JM, BA Bluhm, LW Cooper, SL Danielson, KR Arrigo, AL Blanchard, JT Clarke, RH Days, KE Frey, RR Gradinger, M Kedra, B Konar, KJ Kuletz, SH Lee, JR Lavvorn, BL Norcross, SR Okkonen. (2015). "Ecosystem characteristics and processes facilitating persistent macrobenthic biomass hotspots and associated benthivory in the Pacific Arctic". Progress in Oceanography. 136:92-114.

B. G. Flannery, R. E. Spangler, B. L. Norcross, C. J. Lewis and J. K. Wenburg. (2013). "Microsatellite Analysis of Population Structure in Alaska Eulachon with Application to Mixed-Stock Analysis". Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 142(4):1036-1048.

B. L. Norcross, S. W. Raborn, B. A. Holladay, B. J. Gallaway, S. T. Crawford, J. T. Priest, L. E. Edenfield and R. Meyer. (2013). "Northeastern Chukchi Sea demersal fishes and associated environmental characteristics, 2009 - 2010". Continental Shelf Research.

Day, R.H., T.J. Weingartner, R.R. Hopcroft, L.A.M. Aerts, A.L. Blanchard, A.E. Gall, B.J. Gallaway, D.E. Hannay, B.A. Holladay, J.T. Mathis, B.L. Norcross, J.M. Questel, and S.S. Wisdom. (2013). "The offshore northeastern Chukchi Sea, Alaska: A complex high-latitude ecosystem". Continental Shelf Research. 67:147–165.

Hunt, G.L., A.L. Blanchard, P. Boveng, P. Dalpadado, K.F. Drinkwater, L. Eisner, R.R. Hopcroft, K.M. Kovacs, B.L. Norcross, P. Renaud, M. Reigstad, M. Renner, H.R. Skjoldal, A. Whitehouse, and R.A. Woodgate. (2013). "The Barents and Chukchi Seas: Comparison of two Arctic shelf ecosystems". Journal of Marine Systems. 109:43–68.

S. S. Carroll, L. Horstmann-Dehn and B. L. Norcross. (2013). "Diet history of ice seals using stable isotope ratios in claw growth bands". Canadian Journal of Zoology-Revue Canadienne De Zoologie. 91(4):191-202.

J. R. Reynolds, S. C. Rooney, J. Heifetz, H. G. Greene and B. L. Norcross. (2012). Seafloor Geomorphology as Benthic Habitat: GeoHab Atlas of Seafloor Geomorphic Features and Benthic Habitat. "Habitats and demersal fish communities in the vicinity of Albatross Bank, Gulf of Alaska". Ed. P. T. Harris and E. K. Baker. Elsevier.

R. S. Brewer and B. L. Norcross. (2012). "Long-term retention of internal elastomer tags in a wild population of North Pacific giant octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)". Fisheries Research. 134:17-20.

Seitz, A.C., T. Loher, B.L. Norcross, and J.L. Nielsen. (2011). "Dispersal and behavior of Pacific halibut Hippoglossus stenolepis in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands region". Aquatic Biology. 12:225-239.


  • fisheries oceanography
  • fisheries ecology
  • fish habitats
  • early life history of marine fish
  • Arctic fishes


Research Overview

Norcross''s research interest is the effect of the surrounding environment on fish. Generally that means investigating physical variables like water temperature, salinity, depth and bottom type, and biological variables such as type and amount of food. When asked how the Exxon Valdez oil spill would affect her career, Brenda Norcross replied "It won't; I don't do oil." That, she readily admits, was one of the most naive statements of her life. Exactly two months before the March 1989 oil spill, Norcross arrived at University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF) from 10 years at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Because of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, she spent almost 12 years studying herring in Prince William Sound. In addition to herring that are found near the surface, Norcross studies groundfishes that stay on the bottom. Norcross and her students have collected fish in remote and beautiful locations throughout Alaska, including over 1000 miles of coastal waters from the Aleutian Islands around Kodiak Island to Cook Inlet, before moving northward.

Since 2004, Norcross’s research has focused on the Arctic: the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. She continues to investigate the distribution of fishes and their relationship to their oceanographic environment as a principal investigator or participant in several multi-investigator studies. Her students examine various aspects of fisheries biology of Arctic species, e.g., ages, food habits and community interactions. When they are not at sea collecting samples, they are working long hours in the lab undertaking a computer analysis of their data.

Resulting from her productive and multifaceted work, Norcross serves on a number of committees that provide scientific advice to state, national and international governmental concerns. She serves on committees including the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Groundfish Plan Team of the North Pacific Fisheries Management and the National Research Council Committee on Responding to Oil Spills in Arctic Environments.

As a lifelong educator, Brenda Norcross also is dedicated to graduate education. She currently advises several graduate students who work on a wide range of projects and who major in Fisheries Oceanography, Fisheries, and Marine Biology. A perusal of the list of Norcross''s students reveals that they have diverse interests and areas of study. In the past 23 years, 8 Ph.D. and 20 M.S. students working with Norcross have graduated. In addition to guiding students' research, Norcross alternates teaching two graduate-level classes: Fisheries Oceanography (MSL-640), an upper-level class encompassing knowledge of fisheries, physical and biological oceanography (Fall semester odd-numbered years), and Scientific Writing Techniques (MSL 694; Spring semester odd-numbered years).

Several years ago, Dr. Norcross spent 12 months on sabbatical leave living aboard a sailboat in the eastern Caribbean. During that time, she became increasingly aware of the public''s lack of knowledge about the marine environment that surrounds them. It emphasized her belief in the need for outreach and public education.

In 2001, Norcross was honored for her research and outreach efforts by being named an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow and a Harriman Scholar.


Current Research Projects

  • US-Canada trans-boundary fish and lower trophic communities (BOEM)
  • Arctic coastal ecosystems: Evaluating the functional role and connectivity of lagoon and nearshore habitats (North Pacific Research Board )
  • Distribution of Fish, Crab and Lower Trophic Communities in the Chukchi Sea (BOEM)
  • Arctic ecosystem integrated survey (AK CIAP)
  • Ecological Analysis of 2008 Western Beaufort Sea Marine Fish and Lower Trophic survey data (BOEM)
  • Central Beaufort Sea Marine Fish Monitoring (BOEM)
  • Trophic Links: Forage Fish, Their Prey, and Ice Seals, 2009-2012 (BOEM/CMI)
  • Fisheries Oceanography and Ecology - RUSALCA (NOAA Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research)



MSL 640 – Fisheries Oceanography 4cr.
MSL 694 – Scientific Writing Techniques 3cr.