The Laboratory of AQuatic Evolution at The University of West Alabama

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Who we are

The LAQErs are students, staff, and faculty at the University of West Alabama who are motivated to better understand the diversification of underwater life. We regularly engage with educators, non-governmental conservation organizations, and state and federal agencies who apply our research results to problems of real-world importance. While attending UWA, LAQErs are mentored and prepared for careers in conservation, biomedicine, and bioinformatics.

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What we do

We apply phylogenetic systematics and related statistical methods to identify genomic signatures of reproductive isolation and natural selection within and among wild populations. We use similar methods to detect species living in aquatic environments (eDNA). Our shared ethos is to conserve freshwater animals, as they rank among the world's most endangered species. In order to accomplish this goal, we highlight the societal benefits brought by healthy local aquatic ecosystems, especially those relating to human disease risk.

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Where we go

Our work takes us to places near and far, from the shoals of Alabama's Cahaba River, to the depths of Siberia's Lake Baikal, to the rainforests of French Guiana. There is nowhere we won't go to catch fish in the name of science! For more information (and photos) of our field sites, follow the links to our research pages below.

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How to get involved

The LAQE is growing, and we want to work with you! If you are interested in joining our research group, contact Dr. Sandel to request more information. Collaborators are always encouraged to reach out, especially if you share our dedication to serving underrepresented groups in science. Prospective students and collaborators can contact Dr. Sandel at msandel @