Charlie Willis
Office Address

515 Delaware St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States



Teaching Assistant Professor
Biology Teaching and Learning

My primary research is on how to improve biology teaching and learning in online, remote courses. In particular, I am focused on the development and implementation of online, interactive data-learning tools for ecology. I also continue to research patterns and processes of plant evolution and biodiversity using herbarium records and phylogenetics.

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Research statement

My research is generally concerned with understanding how changing environments shape plant diversity on both evolutionary and ecological time scales. Currently, I am focused on using historical specimen data to study how historic climate change (over the past century) has impacted plant phenology and diversity across North America.

Selected publications

  • Shaw, EC, Fowler, R, Ohadi, S, Bayly, MJ, Barrett, RA, Tibbits, J, Strand, A, Willis, CG, Donohue, K, Robeck, P, Cousens, RD. Explaining the worldwide distributions of two highly mobile species: Cakile edentula and Cakile maritima. J Biogeogr. 2020; 48: 603– 615.
  • Palmer, MS, Willis, CG, Barry, K, Packer, C, Moe, A, Wassenberg, D. Exploring Species Interactions with "Snapshot Serengeti". CourseSource. 2020;
  • Park, DS, Willis, CG, Xi, Z, Kartesz, JT, Davis, CC, Worthington, S. Machine learning predicts large scale declines in native plant phylogenetic diversity. New Phyt. 2020; 227: 1544-1556.
  • Willis, CG, Ellwood, ER, Primack, RB, Davis, CC, Pearson, KD, Gallinat, AS, Yost, JM, Nelson, G, Mazer, SJ, Rossington, NL, Sparks, TH, Soltis, PS (2017). Old plants, new tricks: phenological research using herbarium specimens. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 99: 1263–1275.

Education and background

Education and background


  • Postdoctoral appointment, Harvard University Herbaria
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Harvard University Center for the Environment
  • Ph.D. in Biology, Duke University
  • A.M. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
  • B.S. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities


Curriculum Vitae

Charlie is the course instructor for BIOL1001, BIOL1001 online and BIOL 1009.