Chris Willson began his academic studies in 2000 at Boise State University. He initially planned to major in biology and was interested in marine botany and the various viruses that are detrimentally affecting phytoplankton blooms off the eastern seaboard. However, after taking a workshop in anthropology and participating in a small archaeological excavation in 2001, Chris changed his major. During his tenure as a student at BSU, Chris served as the archaeological laboratory director, the archaeological field director, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) station manager for the Center for Applied Archaeological Science (CAAS) located in the department of anthropology at BSU. As an undergraduate, Chris Willson coauthored five peer-reviewed articles and several technical reports on archaeological investigations in Idaho and Oregon and served as the field director for the Boise State Archaeological Field School. He received his Bachelorette degree with honors with a minor in Native American Studies in 2004 and began the task of choosing a graduate program.
Chris applied to graduate programs in several states and was accepted to a number of universities including Harvard but because of his family ties in Idaho, he attended the University of Idaho’s program and studied under Dr. Lee Sappington. While in graduate school Chris received several grants and scholarships, became a skilled flintknapper, worked closely with Native Americans in Coeur d’Alene Idaho, and successfully completed the graduate program six months early.
For his Graduate thesis, Chris conducted research on lithic resources used to make stone tools by prehistoric people in Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon as a way of understanding relationships to more complex behavioral mechanisms such as mobility. His approach of utilizing X-Ray Fluorescence, led to several interesting conclusions regarding obsidian as a tool resource and with the use of geo-spatial statistics, Chris concluded that the indigenous people had demonstrated a distinct pattern of tool stone acquisition and mapped this using GIS.
BSU hired Chris in 2006 as a full-time instructor where he continued to serve CAAS as the Laboratory and archaeological field director. He continued to publish his research and has authored and co-authored over 20 peer-reviewed papers and technical reports. However, after 3 years of teaching an average of 700 students a semester for BSU in addition to his many other responsibilities, Chris decided to make a career change. In 2013, Mr. Willson returned to CWI where he has a greater opportunity to influence student learning and success and looks forward to being a strong presence in the department of anthropology within the College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs with the College of Western Idaho.