I am a tropical avian ecologist and conservation biologist. I received my BA from Skidmore College, and my Ph.D from University of Missouri-Columbia. Before coming to SLU, I taught with the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) in Costa Rica, and also led a semester program in Tanzania for Earlham College while teaching there. I regularly teach General Biology, Ornithology, General Ecology,Environmental Security, and Tropical Ecology. I have done most of my professional research in Amazonian Peru on the population, community and behavioral ecology of a specialized group of birds called obligate army ant followers (families Thamnophilidae and Dendrocolaptidae). This work has led me to become a specialist on the army ants as well, and I am fascinated by how multiple colonies move over the landscape and interact in space and time. I am also interested in ecology and conservation of birds here in the North Country, and am currently focusing on the nesting success of grassland birds that nest in local agricultural hayfields. I welcome students who would like to join my lab and have interests in local or tropical birds, or army ants. I am affiliated with both Caribbean and Latin American Studies (CLAS) and African Studies, and welcome students interested in combining interests from multiple departments.
Willson, S. K., R. P. Sharp, I. Ramler, and A. Sen. 2013. Spatial movement optimization in Amazonian Eciton burchellii army ants (translated into Spanish). In Reporte Manu 2012. San Diego Zoo Global Publ., CA.
Willson, S. K., R. P. Sharp, I. Ramler, and A. Sen. 2011. Spatial movement optimization in Amazonian Eciton burchellii army ants. Insectes Sociaux, International Journal for the Study of Social Arthropods 58(3): 325-334.
Willson, S. K. 2004.Obligate army-ant-following birds: A study of ecology, spatial movement patterns, and behavior in Amazonian Peru. The American Ornithologists’ Union: Ornithological Monographs No. 55.