Dr. Eleanora (Norrie) Iberall Robbins is an Earth Scientist (bio-geologist) who is worried about the Earth. She sees polluted water, air, soil, dying plants, sick animals, and loss of biodiversity. She is worried because smart people, scientists who could work to reverse this, are being trained without values. In contrast, she hears values about protecting the Earth from her Native friends. So she has joined others who are trying to mesh these two – Native Wisdom and Science.
Norrie got her BS in geology from Ohio State University in 1964. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania with the Geological Survey of Tanzania (1964-1966), searching for mineral deposits. Peace Corps gave her non-competitive eligibility for a government job. The US Geological Survey hired her in 1967, and she worked as a research geologist for 34 years, focusing on mineral deposits, petroleum, and coal. She went on leave to get a MS in geosciences from University of Arizona, where she also met her husband, Brian Robbins. He was a zoologist at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. On leave at another time, she got a PhD in geosciences from Pennsylvania State University.
Norrie and Brian retired to San Diego in 2001. She is now adjunct faculty at San Diego State University. She also volunteers at the USGS office in San Diego, picking fossils out of well cuttings from wells drilled for subsurface aquifer information. However, her passion is running Explorer’s Club, which is a free outdoors monthly science activity for primary-school-age Indian kids living on 11 reservations. NSF picks up the tab for her gasoline under their “Diversity in the Geosciences” Directorate.