Robyn Wilson

Associate Professor

Robyn Wilson

College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Phone: 614-247-6169
Topics: Risk and Decision making

Curriculum Vita

Areas of Research

My research focuses on the individual decision making process under risk and uncertainty. Specifically, I study the interplay between experiential and analytic information processing and the influence this has on risk perception and ultimately judgment or choice behavior. I am also interested in the development of communication efforts and decision support tools that assist individuals in making more informed choices that reflect the fundamental values and objectives of the individual or institution. I pursue these interests across multiple land and resource management contexts (e.g., forests, wildlife, water), multiple hazards (e.g., fire, agricultural runoff, carnivores), and types of decision makers (e.g., laypeople and experts). My specific lines of research are detailed below.

Resources Managers and Policy Makers
This line of research focuses on individuals who manage resources or make decisions on behalf of a larger constituency (e.g., forest/fire managers, wildlife managers, public health directors) or manage a particular resource privately but with large potential implications for society (e.g., farmers).

  • Managing fuels and wildfire events in forest ecosystems
  • Herbicide resistance and weed management in conventional and organic agriculture
  • Managing nutrient loss and water quality in the agroecosystem
  • Climate change and adaptation programming in the public health system

General Public
This line of research focuses on laypeople and the decisions that pose both harm to the natural environment and to individual health, safety and economic well-being.

  • Stream stewardship and water quality in an urbanizing watershed
  • Risk attitudes and evacuation decisions during a wildfire event
  • Public acceptance for wildlife and support for carnivore conservation
  • Public support for fuels management in the wildland-urban interface
  • Public support for individual and collective climate action

Associated Lab Websites

Discovery Themes Sustainable and Resilient Economy -
The Environmental and Social Sustainability Lab -
The Human Dimensions of the Environment Research Group -
The Decision Sciences Collaborative Initiative -
The Environmental Sciences Network -
The Society for Risk Analysis Risk Communication Specialty Group -

Associated Research Websites

People, Climate Change and Lake Erie -
Mental Models, Stream Health and Stewardship Decisions -
Lake States Fire Science Consortium -

News Articles

Farmer Views on Nutrient Loss, Water Quality to Be Discussed at Farm Science Review. Ohio State University Extension, August 2012

New Research to Examine Connections Between Land Use, Public Policy, Lake Erie Water Quality and Climate Change. By Christina Dierkes, Published by Ohio Sea Grant Program, January 11, 2012

Decision Making Isn't Always as Rational as you Think (or Hope). ScienceDally, February 2007

Recent Publications

Yocco, V.S., J.T. Bruskotter, R.S. Wilson and J.E. Heimlich. 2015. Why should I care? Exploring the use of environmental concern as a frame of communication in zoos. Journal of Environmental Education 46(1):56-71.

Wilson, R.S., G. Howard, and E. Burnett. 2014. Improving nutrient management practices in agriculture: The role of risk-based beliefs in understanding farmers’ attitudes toward taking additional action. Water Resources Research

Hersha, D.K. and R.S. Wilson. 2014. What individuals know, do not know, and need to know about watershed health in an urbanizing USA Midwestern city: A mental model approach. Urban Water Journal 11(6):482-496.

Jabbour, R., E. Gallandt, S. Zwickle, R.S. Wilson and D. Doohan. 2014. Organic farmer knowledge and perceptions are associated with on farm weed seedbank densities in northern New England. Weed Science 62(2):338-349.

Zwickle, S., R.S. Wilson and D. Doohan. 2014. Identifying the challenges of promoting Ecological Weed Management (EWM) in organic agroecosystems through the lens of behavioral decision making. Agriculture and Human Values 31(3):355-370.

Bruskotter, J. and R.S. Wilson. 2013. Determining where the wild things will be: Using psychological theory to find tolerance for large carnivores. Conservation Letters 7(3):158-165. DOI:10.1111/conl.12072.

Jabbour, R., E. Gallandt, S. Zwickle, R.S. Wilson and D. Doohan. 2013. Mental models of organic weed management: Comparison of New England U.S. farmer and expert models. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems Available online:

Slagle K.M., R. Zajac, J.T. Bruskotter, R.S. Wilson and S. Prange. 2013. Building tolerance for bears: A communications experiment. Journal of Wildlife Management and Wildlife Monographs 77(4):863-869.

Zajac, R., J.T. Bruskotter, R.S. Wilson and S. Prange. 2013. Learning to live with large carnivores: A psychological model of black bear acceptance. Journal of Wildlife Management 76:1331-1340.

Ascher T.J., R.S. Wilson, E. Toman. 2012. The importance of affect and perceived risk in understanding support for fuels management among wildland - urban interface residents. International Journal of Wildland Fire

Wilson R.S., T.J. Ascher and E. Toman. 2012. The importance of framing for communicating risk and managing forest health. Journal of Forestry 110:337-341.

Parker, J., R.S. Wilson, J. LeJeune and D. Doohan. 2012. Including growers in the 'food safety' conversation: Enhancing the design and implementation of food safety programming based on farm and marketing needs of fresh fruit and vegetable producers. Agriculture and Human Values 29(3):303-319.

Hersha, D.K., R.S. Wilson and A. Baird. 2012. A conceptual model of the citizen stream stewardship decision process in an urbanizing midwestern United States watershed. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management

Parker, J., R.S. Wilson, J. LeJeune, L. Rivers III and D. Doohan. 2012. An expert guide to understanding grower decisions related to fresh fruit and vegetable contamination prevention and control. Food Control 1(26):107-116.

Pegues, A.H., D.S. Cohan, A. Digar, C. Douglass and R.S. Wilson. 2012. Efficacy of recent state implementation plans for 8-hour ozone. Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association 2(62):252-261.

Slagle, K., J.T. Bruskotter and R.S. Wilson. 2012. The role of affect in public support and opposition to wolf management. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 1(17):44-57.

Hunter, C., C. Jones, N. Strachan, R.S. Wilson, O. Rotariu, D. Chadwick, P. Cross, A.P. Williams and L.A. McCritchie. 2011. The relationship between lay and technical understandings of E. coli O157 risk. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B Biological Sciences 1573(366):1999-2009.

Syal, S., R.S. Wilson, J. Crawford and J. Lutz. 2011. Climate change and human health: What influences the adoption of adaptation programs in the United States public health system?. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 8(16):911-924.

Doohan, D., R.S. Wilson, E. Canales and J. Parker. 2010. Investigating the human dimension of weed management: New tools of the trade. Weed Science 58:503-510.

Wilson, R.S. and J.L. Arvai. 2010. Why less is more: Exploring affect - based value neglect. Journal of Risk Research 4(13):399-409.

Wilson, R.S., P.L. Winter, L.A. Maguire and T.J. Ascher. 2010. Managing wildfire events: Risk-based decision making among a group of federal fire managers. Risk Analysis 5(31):805-818.

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