Mark D. Norman

Head of Sciences

Mark Norman
Mark Norman
Source: Mark Norman

Dr Norman is Head of Sciences at Museum Victoria where he leads the large and active natural sciences research team of curators, collection managers, postdoctoral fellows, postgraduate students, research associates and volunteers. For his own research he studies octopuses, squids, cuttlefishes and nautiluses (the cephalopods).


Dr Norman completed his PhD on the systematics and biogeography of the octopuses of the Great Barrier Reef. This was followed by Harkness and ARC QEII Fellowships on the Australian octopus fauna and octopus taxonomy in general. Since then his main research focus has been defining the Australian and Indo-West Pacific cephalopods, primarily the octopuses. Specific research interests include biodiversity, evolutionary origins and relationships, reproductive and defense behaviours, deep-sea faunas, and adaptations to key habitats and niches. He has undertaken field research throughout Australasia, Antarctica, Europe, United States and throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

He has also undertaken research into other invertebrates and Victorian fishes, and has published field guides on cephalopods and marine invertebrates, children’s books on natural history and has participated in numerous natural history documentaries.

His research, education and conservation activities have been recognised through the following awards:

  • Harkness Fellowship for postdoctoral research (USA) (1993)
  • Malacological Society of London Annual Award, best initial contribution to molluscan research (1993)
  • QE II Research Fellowship, Museum of Victoria and University of Melbourne, 1994-1999 (1993)
  • Ministerial Award for contribution to establishment of Marine National Parks System in Victoria, Hon. John Thwaites, MP, Minister for Environment and Water (2002)
  • Victorian Coastal Council Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement (2006)
  • Children’s Book Council of Australia, Eve Pownall Award for Information Books (2007)
  • Whitley Award for children’s natural history literature, Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales (2007, 2008, 2009)
  • Australian Publishing Association Award for Excellence in Educational Publishing (2008)
  • Wilderness Society Environmental Award for children’s literature (2010)

Current activities

Cephalopod Research

His current research activities include completion of a world revision of octopuses for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN), collaborations on phylogeny and higher-level classification of the octopods, regional revisions of the octopod fauna of Australia, China, Taiwan and New Caledonia, studies of cephalopod behaviour and reproductive biology, and the evolution and use of defensive toxins in cephalopods.

Museum Victoria Marine Life Field Guides

Dr Norman is a series editor for Museum Victoria’s guide series on marine life of south-east Australia. Current titles in this series include:

Upcoming titles include:

  • Shrimps, prawns and lobsters: Poore
  • Sponges: Goudie, Norman and Finn
  • Bivalves: Boyd and Norman

Sciences Collections Online

A large upcoming project is to make accessible Museum Victoria’s natural sciences collections by providing online access to collection data, species pages, distributional and biological information, images and multimedia, and broader natural history and science stories for research, public, education and specialist interest audiences.


Joanna Browne (PhD student)

“Gelatinous zooplankton and their parasites in Eastern Australia”.

Co-supervision with Dr Kylie Pitt and Assoc Prof Rod Connolly, Griffith School of Environment and Australian Rivers Institute – Coast and Estuaries. Griffith University, Brisbane.

Andrew Dunstan (PhD student)

“Population ecology and conservation management of Chambered Nautiluses”.

Co-supervision with Prof. Justin Marshall, Sensory Neurobiology Group, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Candace McBride (PhD student)

“Atypical group formation in the Mourning Cuttlefish, Sepia plangon: evidence of social interactions?”

Co-supervision with Dr Jane Williamson, Marine Ecology Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney.

Zoe Elizabeth Squires (PhD student)

“Sexual selection and reproductive behaviour in native Australian squid.”

Co-supervision with Dr Devi Stuart-Fox, Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne.

Christopher Talbot (PhD student)

“The visual ecology of cephalopods”.

Co-supervision with Prof. Justin Marshall, Sensory Neurobiology Group, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Benjamin Wegener (PhD student)

“Sexual selection in the sea: sperm competition, female promiscuity and patterns of paternity in the Southern Dumpling Squid, Euprymna tasmanica.”

Co-supervision with Dr Bob Wong, School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne.

Last updated 29 November 2011