Alyssa Willson

Alyssa Willson
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Department of Biological Sciences
  • Graduate Fellow (2021-2022)
  • “The Ecological Time Machine: Investigating the Past and Present to Improve Ecological Forecasts”

Alyssa Willson is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. Alyssa is interested in the role forests play in mitigating climate change by taking up carbon from the atmosphere. Her dissertation focuses on combining mathematical models and data that describe how forests look now and looked over the past 10,000 years, since the last Ice Age, to understand the relationship between climate and forest vegetation. In her dissertation, she also works on improving the inclusivity and equity of undergraduate education in her discipline: ecological forecasting.

Alyssa received her undergraduate degree from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  After graduating with a B.S. in biology and Spanish, she joined the McLachlan Lab at the University of Notre Dame for her Ph.D. Since starting her Ph.D., she has become heavily involved in the Ecological Forecasting Initiative, an international, interdisciplinary community of practice around ecological forecasting, in which she serves as the co-chair of the Student Association.

Alyssa is supported by an Arthur J. Schmitt Leadership Fellowship in Science and Engineering and a University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center Graduate Fellowship. Her research has also been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation. Alyssa was recently named a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.