Council (the AURA group that has responsibility for running the national observatories).
As well as being elected to service positions, Willson was awarded the Annie Jump Cannon award in 1980. This award was established by Annie Cannon, a spectroscopic astronomer. Early recipients were eminent female astronomers and the award was a brooch. Around 1970, the American Association of Sciences and the American Association of University Women redesigned the award as a grant of research funds for young women astronomers.
Balancing professional life with personal development and family is also important to Willson. She credited saving room for "fun" classes during her studies with keeping her sane as well as giving her a wellrounded education. Her fun classes included French, music theory, comparative literature, and several design classes. Since taking her job in Iowa, Willson has enjoyed painting, sculpting ceramics, and wheel ceramics. "Throwing a pot on the pottery wheel is one of the most effective ways to get rid of stress," she says. In addition to her artistic interests outside of science, Willson has made time for her family.
Willson met her future husband, a mathematician, while she was studying at Harvard; they were able to attend graduate school together at the University of Michigan. When it came time to find two teaching jobs in the same place, Willson considered herself very lucky that Iowa State University had room for both of them. They have raised two children in Ames, with one now in college studying mathematics and the other pursuing graduate studies in Scandinavian languages and linguistics.
Since her children have become more independent, Willson has had more time to think about what it is that she does that benefits humanity most. "Of all my activities, I believe it is the teaching of large numbers of students who have little other experience with science that has the largest potential impact on our future," said Willson. "So many of the issues that must be solved in the next generation need the ability to think clearly and logically about consequences of various actions." Willson continues to work on creative ways to help students learn how to think, with her commitment to excellence never ceasing.
Guzik J., L. A. Willson, and W. Brunish. "Effects of Main Sequence Mass Loss on Solar Models." Astrophysical Journal 319 ( 1987): 957-965.