Ben Norton

Head of Technology,
Collections Data Curator, and
Collections Manager of Mineralogy

11 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601


  • M.S. in Geology, University of Tennessee, 2008 (Emphasis: Planetary Sciences)
  • B.S. in Geosciences, University of Arizona, 2005 (Emphasis: Mineralogy)

Professional Interests and Background


Ben serves a broad array of needs that support both day-to-day operations and the long-term strategic plans for the museum, including the management of many technical assets. The most prominent are the Online Collections, Data Publishing Platform, and the Museum website, all for which he built, co-designed, and currently administers.

In 2013, Ben began working at the Museum of Natural Sciences as Collections Data Curator and GIS Manager. In this role, he developed and established the collections data workflow that begins with the digitization of primary sources and ends with the data back end for the collections website and the eight published Darwin Core compliant data sets. In 2015, his professional roles at the Museum broadened to include project manager and lead developer for strategic technological initiatives, including all web-related museum resources. Currently, most of Ben's work resides within Research & Collections as Collections Data Curator, Collections Manager of Mineralogy, and support associate to the Museum's Mineralogy Collection.


In 2005, Ben earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Geosciences from the University of Arizona, with an emphasis in Mineralogy and Planetary Sciences. During his time as an undergraduate, Ben worked in Bob Downs' Mineralogy and Crystallography Research Group as a technician on the American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database and Rruff projects. In graduate school at the University of Tennessee, he studied imaging analysis and Carbonaceous Chondrites, the most primitive class of meteorites that date back to the dawn of our solar system. After earning his Master of Science degree, he began working at the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center and ORNL DAAC at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), where he developed web applications and curated meteorological and ecological data for the AmeriFlux and Fluxnet projects. After ORNL, Ben spent a couple years honing a diverse set of technical skills in the private sector before arriving at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in 2013.

External Collaborations

Since 2019, Ben serves as an advisor to several organizations on an array of projects. His current project and organization list includes the Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG), Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library (BiCIKL), Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Specify Software Consortium, Movebank, and the Paleo Data Working Group. An active member and contributor to the collections data and Darwin Core communities, he's currently leading efforts to standardize Geological/Mineralogical collections datasets and broaden the integration and application of APIs in collections data systems and online applications. In 2020, he joined the governing and advisory bodies of the Specify Collections Consortium as chair of the technical advisory committee and ex officio board member.

On the Side

On the side, Ben is a substitute teacher and tutor at the elementary school level in the Wake County Public School System. He is also a Taekwondo and Krav Maga assistant instructor in Cary, NC.

Under the Hood

Underpinning all of Ben's work is a focus on the advancement of scientific research through the use technology, an exploration of the role of technology in museums, and, most importantly, finding ways to turn ideas into realities through technology. In practice, he spends a great deal of his time developing new ways to increase efficiency, productivity, and ultimately open up new educational opportunities and scientific discoveries through the use of technology.

External Appointments and Committees

Personal website with profiles of select projects
Github Profile
LinkedIn Profile
ORCID Profile

Select Current Projects

Past Projects

  • CitSciScribe - Digitial Transcription Web Application
  • Sparrow Swap Data Management - Citizen Science Project and Data Management System
  • Sound Around Town: A Citizen Science Project
  • Sparrow Swap: A Citizen Science Project



North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences websites and web applications are built using an array of client-side, server-side, and database technologies including Laravel, Vue.js, Elasticsearch, Tensorflow, jQuery, Bootstrap, D3.js, Handlebars.js, Node.js, Three.js, Leaflet, PostGIS, Twig, WordPress, C# ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, PHP, CSS3, HTML5, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MSSQL on both Linux and Windows servers.

Note on Institution Names and Acronyms
The Museum goes by two acronyms, NCSM and NCMNS. The name of the museum changed in the early 2000s from the North Carolina State Museum to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. As a result, the museum acronym also changed from NCSM to NCMNS. To preserve continuity with decades of published work, the shorter acronym, NCSM, is used mainly by Research & Collections. Those not subject to the conformity of history, use NCMNS.

Publications and Abstracts

  • Addink, W., Kyriakopoulou, N., Penev, L., Fichtmueller, D., Norton, B. & Shorthouse, D. (2022). Best practice manual for findability, re-use and accessibility of infrastructures. Deliverable D1.3 EU Horizon 2020 BiCIKL Project, Grant Agreement No 101007492.
  • Technical Architecture Group. 2023. Best practices for serializing booleans. Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG). Download
  • Little, H., Byrd, C., Karim, T., Krimmel, E., Norton, B. (2022) Extinct Taxa in an Extant World: Working towards better fossil taxonomic representation. Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 6: e94417.
  • Little, H., Karim, T., Krimmel, E., Norton, B., Utrup, J., Walker, L.J., Van Veldhuizen, J. (2022) Community Data Mobilization in Wikidata: A paleontology perspective. Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 6: e94416.
  • Norton, B. (2021) APIs: A Common Interface for the Global Biodiversity Informatics Community. Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 5: e75267.
  • Desmet, P., Bubnicki, J., Norton, B. (2021) Camtrap DP: A frictionless data exchange format for camera trapping data. Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 5: e73188.
  • Norton, B. (2021) Standardized value APIs: The next step in the evolution of biodiversity data sharing. Digital Data Conference Abstract. June 7-9, 2021.
  • Lasky, M., Parsons, A., Schuttler, S., Mash, A., Larson, L., Norton, B., Pease, B., Boone, H., Gatens, L. and Kays, R. (2021) Candid Critters: Challenges and Solutions in a Large-Scale Citizen Science Camera Trap Project. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 6(1), p.4. DOI:
  • Norton, M.B. (2008) Volumetric Proportion Analyses of Carbonaceous Chondrites: Implications for Accretion and Compositional Diversity. Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2008.
  • Norton, M.B., McSween, H.Y. (2007) Quantifying the Volumetric Abundances of the Components of the Murray CM Chondrite: A Preliminary Investigation. 38th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference Abstract.
  • Dickinson, W.R., Geherls, G., Fox, J., Stair, K., Anderson, C., Ohja, J., Brown, R., Norton, M.B., Riggs, N., Lehman, T., (2007) Sediment dispersal in Triassic fluvial systems of southwest Laurentia: Insights from U–Pb ages of Detrital Zircon grains. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 39, No. 6, p. 235.

Published Datasets

  • Hogue G, Norton B (2014): NCSM Ichthyology Collection. North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. Dataset/Occurrence.
  • Gerwin J, O'Shea B, Norton B (2014): NCSM Ornithology Collection. North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. Dataset/Occurrence.
  • Stuart B, Beane J, Norton B (2014): NCSM Herpetology Collection. North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. Dataset/Occurrence.
  • Kammerer C, Weaver P, Norton B (2014): NCSM Invertebrate Paleontology Collection. North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. Dataset/Occurrence.
  • Cove M, Gatens L, Norton B (2018): NCSM Mammalogy Collection. North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. Dataset/Occurrence.
  • Kammerer C, Norton B (2018): NCSM Paleobotany Collection. North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. Dataset/Occurrence.
  • Smith J, Bogan A, Norton B (2017): NCSM Mollusk Collection. North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. Dataset/Occurrence.
  • Williams, B, McCuller, M, Norton B (2017): NCSM Non–molluscan Invertebrates Collection. North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. Dataset/Occurrence.
  • Weaver P, Kammerer C, Norton B (2018): NCSM Vertebrate Paleontology Collection. North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. Dataset/Occurrence.
  • Lincoln C, Skupien G, Norton B (2020): NCSM Herbarium Collection. North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. Dataset/Occurrence.

Last Updated: February 21st, 2023