Ken Norris Memorial Lecture

Salt Water Intrusion Along Monterey Bay:

Is Our Groundwater Too Salty?

A Moderated Discussion with the Experts


Wednesday, October 23, 2019
7-8:30 PM


The Seymour Center will host a lively and informative panel discussion about the pressing and imminent problem of saltwater intrusion along the Monterey Bay coastline.

For years, groundwater levels in our region have been dropping to record-level lows at such a rate that our aquifers are no longer being naturally replenished by rainfall. As groundwater levels fall, salty ocean water infiltrates inland. The aquifers become contaminated with seawater causing wells to become too salty and unusable. Saltwater intrusion is potentially irreversible and can result in costly changes for the end users. What does this mean for the future? Join us as we reveal the complexities of saltwater intrusion and explore viable solutions with our expert panel.

The Panel:

Ron Duncan, General Manager, Soquel Creek Water District
Andy Fisher, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, UC Santa Cruz
Meredith Goebel, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Stanford University

Moderated by Cynthia Chase, Former Santa Cruz Mayor and City Councilmember

Sponsored by Naomi Kirschenbaum


The Ken Norris Memorial Lecture is free to attend. Recommended for ages 12 and older. Seating is limited and first-come, first-served.

  • No late seating (no entry after 7 PM)
  • Doors open to the lecture hall at 6:30 PM
  • Seymour Center opens to the public with lecture passes available at 6 PM

Join us each fall for this outstanding tradition––thoughtful topics and renowned thinkers in an intimate setting. This annual lecture is named in honor of Ken Norris and his big-picture thinking. Ken was a scientist, naturalist, conservationist, teacher, and a long-time UC Santa Cruz professor of natural history. He was known for his pioneering work with dolphins, helping to author landmark federal legislation protecting marine mammals in the 1970s, establishing the University of California Natural Reserve System, and for being part of the team that founded the Long Marine Lab.

A few examples of topics addressed in past Ken Norris Memorial Lectures:

  • Oil and Gas Development off California’s Coast — Is More in Our Future? (more information)
  • Coho Salmon  Saving a Species Living on the Edge (more information)
  • Understanding Coral Reefs through Marine Science and Woolly Sculptures — A unique perspective on Corals, Conservation, and Crochet Craftwork (more information)
  • Disturbing Trends — Encouraging Signs: A discussion on troubling trends in our modern ocean — heavy metals, sea star wasting, ocean acidification — and signs of improving health. (more information)
  • When Ocean Science is the “Family Business”— A unique perspective on work, family, and the future of our blue planet. Read the Review!
  • “Dr. Ocean” — A Lively Discussion with Three Marine Wildlife Veterinarians. Press Release
  • Renewable Energy from the Ocean: Discussion of public policy and regulatory guidelines, the physical challenges involved in developing the technology to harness energy from the ocean, and understanding its potential impacts on the ocean environment and ocean life.
  • Global Climate Change: A range of perspectives on climate science, the effects of global warming, and policy options.
  • Sustainable Fisheries: Perspectives on the challenges facing fisheries on the West Coast and around the world, including the future of seafood, the politics of fish and the oceans, and the management of West Coast groundfish fisheries.
  • Women in Marine Science: Highlights about extraordinary women in marine science crossing several generations.
  • Perspectives on Ocean Health and Policy: A discussion about our dependence on the oceans for food, jobs, recreation and solace. Ocean currents circulate the energy and water that regulate the earth’s climate and weather and thus affect many aspects of the human experience.

Speakers have included:

  • Barbara Block, Stanford University, Hopkins Marine Station; MacArthur Foundation Fellow
  • Dave Casper, Veterinarian, UC Santa Cruz
  • Bill Douros, West Coast Regional Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
  • Gary Griggs, Earth Sciences Distinguished Professor, UC Santa Cruz
  • John Laird, California Secretary of Natural Resources; former three-term member of the California Assembly
  • Dan Kammen, Professor of Energy, Public Policy, Nuclear Engineering, UC Berkeley; Nobel Peace Prize Contributing Lead Author for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Marcia McNutt, President of the National Academy of Sciences; former Editor of Science; former Director of USGS
  • Melissa Miller, Veterinarian, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Mike Murray, Veterinarian, Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Julie Packard, Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense; Former Director of the CIA; Presidential Chief of Staff for Bill Clinton, senior statesmen
  • Kathryn Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, NOAA Administrator, NOAA Chief Scientist; former astronaut

The Norris Lecture is conducted every October/November. Please check our calendar for the most up-to-date information.


August 9–15, 2020
For a full week, the Seymour Center will virtually celebrate sharks by revealing fascinating facts about these cartilaginous fishes.

Virtually explore this digital mixed media project featuring curated archives from nearly 20 years of deep-sea exploration of ancient denizens of the deep.

August 16, 2020
1:30–2:30 PM
“Field Immersion: How Curiosity, Natural History, and Collaboration Have Led to Ecological Discoveries along the Californias.”

Enjoy outdoor highlights of the spectacular Coastal Science Campus as you explore the network of trails with this guide to interpretive signs.


Stay informed about tours, activities & events throughout the year



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