Jacalyn Giacalone Willis, Ph.D.

Jacalyn Giacalone Willis, Ph.D.

Professional Preparation

Queens College, CUNY Biology B.A.   1969
Queens College Biology M.A.   1974
City University of New York Biology Ph.D. 1976

Dissertation: “Behavioral Ecology of Flying Squirrels (Glaucomys volans).” 


2005 – now Smithsonian Institute, Associate in Communications: providing science education programming to schools

1995 – now Montclair State University, NJ.  Director, PRISM: providing science and mathematics professional development to teachers

1990-1995 Upsala College, NJ: Full Professor and Chair of Biology

1977-1990 Upsala College, NJ: Assistant Prof/ Associate Prof Biology

Teaching Experience:
Undergraduate courses in General Biology, Embryology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Comparative Anatomy, Animal Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, Botany, Scientific Illustration. Graduate course sin Ecology and Teaching Science.

Experience/ Accomplishments

Research in Ecology:  40 years of investigations in field ecology of mammals in North American and Neotropical Forests, with specialization in squirrel population dynamics and ecology and tropical cat (ocelot and jaguar) home range, prey selection, and behavior.  Early innovator in use of surveillance cameras to document mammal population movements and density.  Developer of unique 30-year dataset on the mammalian ecology of a Panamanian forest.  Expertise in live-trapping, census methodologies. 

STEM Education: Early innovator in the use of internet education programming, especially videoconference technology to connect K-12 classrooms (since 2003) globally with researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and students in Belize, Australia, Portugal, Madagascar, and Thailand: appointed Smithsonian Associate in Communications.  Created “The Rainforest Connection Live!”

  • Designer of education programs that produce significant gains in teacher and student content knowledge, resulting in the award of several large federal and state grants for science and mathematics education totaling more than $12 million since 1994.  Created large-scale professional development programs that help K-12 teachers combine content and pedagogical approaches to teach science and mathematics.  Awarded competitive funding by the National Science Foundation ($2.8 million), the New Jersey Department of Education and the US Department of Education Math-Science Partnership Program ($6.5 million over 12 years), the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation ($700 K), and several foundations.  The Wipro Foundation awarded $1.3 million to PRISM to for science teacher leader program.
  • Founder of PRISM (Professional Resources In Science & Mathematics), a professional development center for STEM education, with a staff of scientists, mathematicians, former K-12 teachers, and administrative personnel.  PRISM and earlier programs designed by Dr. Willis have served over 5,000 teachers and more than 60,000 students since 1994.
  • Designer of STEM education media material for public outreach on long-term research at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute which has been highlighted in Discovery Channel, BBC, and Animal Planet TV documentaries, in the JASON online Expeditions, the Smithsonian Channel, and Smithsonian Institution reports.


Awards and Recognition:

  • Appeared in Smithsonian Channel Documentary, “Mysteries of the Rainforest”
  • Commended by the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education for Excellence in Science Teacher Education (2012).
  • Selected by the New Jersey State Science Coordinator to serve as the scientist consultant for review of the Next Generation Science Standards for adoption   

Presentations and Workshops

  • For Honduran STEM educators, presented an institute on STEM education integrated with science research for graduate students, K-12 teachers, and national park biologists as part of our collaboration in mammal population research integrated with school science programs.  2012
  • Co-authored presentation with K. Milton for the August 2012 International Primatological Society annual conference, Mexico:  Differential Effects of Unusual Climatic Stress on Two Sympatric Primate Species (Alouatta palliata and Cebus capucinus) in Panama.
  • Presented papers on innovations in science education in the USA at the 30th Seminar of International Society for Teacher Education in Hong Kong, May 2013 and at the 29th Seminar in Bhutan, May 2012.
  • Presented an online seminar for graduate teacher education classes at the Normal School of Antananarivo, Madagascar, June 2013.

Peer-Reviewed Publications, selected

Giacalone Willis, J., K. Macht, and M. Burke. 2015. Our Twelve-year Journey Internationalizing In-Service Science Education. Book Chapter, In: Schwarzer, D. and B. Bridglall. Promoting Global Competence & Social Justice in Teacher Education. Lexington Books: NY. 332 pp.

Milton, K. and J. Giacalone. 2014. Differential Effects of Unusual Climatic Stress on Two Sympatric Primate Species (Cebus capucinus and Alouatta palliata) on Barro Colorado Island, Panama.  American Journal of Primatology. 76 (3): 249 – 261.

Laurance, W. et al. J. Giacalone Willis. 2012. Averting Biodiversity Collapse in Tropical Forest Protected Areas. Nature. July 25, 2012, online 11318.    

Aliaga-Rossel, E., R. Moreno, R. Kays, and J. Giacalone.  2006.  Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) Predation on Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata).  Biotropica. 38(5): 691-694.