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UW-R geologist Emerson promoted to professor
8-13 Emerson
Dr. Norlene Emerson

University of Wisconsin-Richland geologist Dr. Norlene Emerson was promoted in July to the rank of full professor. Dr. Emerson is a native of Richland Center and alum of UW-Richland. She joined the campus staff in 2002 and teaches a variety of introductory geology courses.

“Dr. Norlene Emerson has provided an exceptional level of scholarship, teaching, and community service during her tenure at UW-Richland. Her promotion to full professor in the Department of Geography and Geology recognizes her superior achievements,” said UW-Richland CEO/Dean Dr. Patrick Glenn Hagen.

After receiving her associate’s degree from UW-Richland, Dr. Emerson proceeded to earn a B.S. in Geology from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, take part in graduate studies in geology at Eastern Washington University, earn an MSE in Secondary Education from University of Wisconsin-Platteville and a Ph.D. in Geology from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In 2012, Dr. Emerson was named “Roadrunner of the Year,” a student-selected honor recognizing a faculty or staff member for participation in and support of campus activities, accessibility to students, and a positive attitude toward UW-Richland. She has also received the 2010 Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching award, a 2009 “Outstanding Alumni of UW-Richland” award, a 2008 “Outstanding Contributor to Student Services” award, a 2007-08 Arthur M. Kaplan award, and a 2007-08 University of Wisconsin System Teaching Fellow.

Dr. Emerson makes herself available within the UW System, the Colleges, the UW-Richland campus, her department and community. She has served on numerous University, System and UW Colleges committees as well as 19 campus committees, chaired two Dean Searches (2008 & 2010), served as a member of the search committee for the International Student Director in 2010, and chaired the campus Steering Committee. She has been very active within the Geography/Geology department, serving on its assessment, technology & professional development committees and the department’s executive committee which is responsible for all appointments, merit evaluations, and retention and promotion decisions. Dr. Emerson also served as the Department Assessment Co-Coordinator for seven years and has served on the department assessment committee for 10 years. She assists in the development of assessment tools and procedures and in revising curriculum guides for geology courses. She is an active member of the UW-Richland Foundation Board and has served as the board’s faculty representative for the past eight years, as well as serving on the Foundation Smart Farm Committee for the past seven years.

For decades, Dr. Emerson has served the greater community by being a field trip leader for the Workshop on Atmospheric, Earth, and Space Science program, leading high school students on an all-day field trip to Devil’s Lake; leading ice cave hikes at Kickapoo Valley Reserve; accepting speaking opportunities from local groups such as Rotary and Lions; helping Boy Scout Troops earn their geology badges; serving as the UW-Richland campus representative for the local Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance Walk; and performing regular maintenance of the UW-Richland Foundation’s Smart Farm.

Dr. Emerson has been heavily involved in professional development, through organizations such as Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education in Two-year Colleges (SAGE 2YC). Her dedication to her own professional development led, in part, to her involvement in a $3 million grant recently awarded to her and three others by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support geoscience education at community colleges nationwide.

This fall at UW-Richland, Dr. Emerson will teach Physical Geology and Special Topics in Geology: Evolution & Extinction. For more information, contact her at or (608) 647-6186, extension 109. To learn more about her publications, etc., visit For more about her recent grant award, visit science-foundation. For more about UW-Richland, visit