Justin Bagley, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology
128A Martin Hall

I am an evolutionary biologist and my research focuses on integrating genomics, ecological data, and computer modeling to reconstruct the evolutionary histories of species and populations. This work addresses basic questions (e.g. “Why are there so many species?”, "How do species adapt to their environment?") and applied questions (e.g. “How do we delimit and monitor species?”) about the evolution of freshwater and terrestrial organisms. My research on evolutionary processes in biodiversity 'hotspots' takes me across the Americas, from the southeastern US to Central America and South America. 

Current research projects in my lab center on phylogeography, phylogenomics, speciation/hybridization, and local adaptation genomics of North American and Neotropical plants (bellflowers, forest trees) and freshwater fishes. Projects are diverse, ranging from Andean bellflowers to central Brazilian fishes, and they are strongly focused on analyzing genomic data (e.g. ddRAD-seq, targeted sequence capture, and whole-genome sequence data) and species occurrences, although phenotypic data are also of interest. Questions about species, their relationships, and their past, present, and future responses (e.g. distributional shifts) to climate change and human impacts are especially of interest.

The Bagley Lab will provide opportunities for students to engage in local and international research projects in ecological and evolutionary genetics employing cutting-edge techniques in high-throughput sequencing (grounded in bioinformatics) and ecological modeling. Research and internship opportunities for undergraduate students may focus on any of the following areas: 

  • applying techniques in ichthyology and genetic analysis to the assessment and conservation of native Alabama freshwater fish biodiversity; 
  • field- and genetics-based studies of native plant species across the southeastern U.S.; 
  • ecological niche modeling studies of species geographical distributions;
  • comparative analyses of plant or animal evolution and adaptation (e.g. gathering data from the field or literature for a group of related organisms with an available phylogeny, and then applying phylogenetic comparative methods to understand trait evolution in the group). 

Graduate student projects will depend on the interests of the student, and may also address the topics above, but they will more strongly emphasize applying molecular laboratory and computational approaches to key problems in molecular ecology and phylogenetics. Wherever possible, our laboratory will seek to develop interdisciplinary collaborations with other faculty in the Department of Biology and the Department of Chemistry and Geosciences.

Justin Bagley

Courses Taught

  • Introductory Biology I (BY 101)
  • Ichthyology (BY 460)
  • Ecology (BY332)
  • Biodiversity (BY 542)
  • Seminar in Systematics (BY 577)
  • Biology Internship (BY 397)


  • Ph.D., Integrative Biology, Brigham Young University
  • M.Sc., Biology, The University of Alabama
  • B.Sc., Biology, The University of Alabama