Charles G. Willis is an evolutionary ecologist interested in the impacts of climate change on plant biodiversity in North America.
Charlie received a B.Sc. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from the University of Minnesota in 2005, a M.A. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from the Harvard University in 2009, and a Ph.D. in Biology from Duke University in 2013. As an undergraduate, Charlie worked the community assembly and eco-phylogenetic dynamics of Minnesota oak-savanna communities. At Harvard, his M.A. research used historical data to study how climate change and phenology contributed to phylogenetic patterns of extinction and invasion in the forest communities of Concord, MA. For his Ph.D. research, Charlie focused on understanding how dispersal and adaptive divergence to climate influenced the diversification and speciation of the tribe Brassiceae and genus Cakile (sea-rocket).
As an Environmental Fellow, Charlie will work with Charles Davis of Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology to explore how climate change will affect continental scale patterns of biodiversity and phylogenetic diversity in North America. His work will incorporate a large-scale climatic niche modeling effort to assess which plant species will be winners and losers under future climate change scenarios, and whether these species are concentrated in specific branches of the Tree of Life.