Lee Anne Mordy Willson

University Professor Emerita

Iowa State University


In May, 2014 I retired after 41 years with the  Astronomy Program of the Department of Physics and Astronomy  at Iowa State University. My colleagues celebrated the occasion with a conference, Stars: Old, Young and Variable.

While I am continuing to be involved in some research projects concerning the fates of stars like the Sun, I am also spending more time on other activities. These include more time at Creative Artists' Studios of Ames, more time working with historical and family papers in search of interesting stories needing to be told, and more time with family members ranging from 93+ to <1 years old. This web page is being reworked to reflect my new status; what appears below is several years old.

Biographical data and a formal CV with publication list.

Personal data - family, hobbies, and some links to related sites on the www.   

My "virtual origami exhibit" is now on-line here! Check out "Planet in the wind of a dying star" and "A Comet has two tails". My work can be found also at Gallery 319 in Ames.

Picture(s) of me, and some of my photos [coming soon].

One of my projects was a pair of web courses in introductory astronomy. The content of the web courses is available to all at the Polaris Project; to receive credit and a grade requires registering through normal ISU channels or as an off-campus student via Engineering/LAS Online Learning.

Currently, I am working on a book "Essential Physics of Stellar and Planetary Atmospheres" to be published by Cambridge University Press.

My research focusses on the mechanisms and implications of mass loss from stars.  You can get an overview from my review article Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysicson the subject of Mass Loss from Cool Stars. A more recent paper concerns what we know about the dependence of mass loss rates on stellar L, M and R; many may find the answers surprising.

The transparencies (or powerpoint) from representative talks, in .pdf format:

The Far Future Sun and the Ultimate Fates of the Planets (semi-popular talk from the AAAS meeting in DC, February 2000)

A talk given at the Biggest, Baddest, Coolest Stars conference at Eastern Tennessee State University.

Two talks given in Uppsala in 2004; together, they cover most of what we have been working on. First talk; second talk.

A popular-level talk on Astrology, Astronomy and Cosmology, given for the College for Seniors at ISU, includes reference to the accelerating universe, the criteria for planets, and the future of the Earth, among other items.

For something entirely different: Here is a paper I wrote about J. Lawrence Smith, a 19th-century chemist with an interest in meteorites.

During the last two decades I have served on quite a few committees and councils, including a term as president of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO ), one as chair of the Astronomy Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and for 13 years as a member of the board of directors of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)*.   In the past, I have also served on committees for  NASA and the American Astronomical Society (AAS). I also served on the AAS Publications Board was Vice-President of the AAS June, 2009-May 2012. I'm continuing my AAS involvement as organizer of the group of 40-year and emeritus members "40+E".

What I learned from all this "service" work has been put to use in a different context:  A group of us organized Creative Artists' Studios of Ames, Inc. or CASA for short, where I served as founding President November 2000 - June 2003. CASA will celebrate 14 years of successful operation in January 2015, as the first member moved into a studio on 1/1/01; it has 30+ active, artist, members most of whom rent space at 130 S. Sheldon, in Ames. I am currently secretary for this organization as well as electronic newsnote editor; email me if you would like to be on our mailing list: lwillson(at)iastate.edu or info(at)www.CreativeArtists.org .

*AURA operates  NOAO  and SScI.