Nathan Whelan

Assistant Research Professor, US Fish & Wildlife Service Director, Southeast Conservation Genetics Lab

School of Fisheries, Aquaculture & Aquatic Sciences

(334) 844-4830 


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101 Life Sciences Building
Auburn Univ, AL 36849



  • Ph.D. The University of Alabama, 2013
  • B.S. Truman State University, 2008


  • 2018-present: Assistant Professor, Auburn University.
  • 2016-present: Director Southeast Conservation Genetics Lab, United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  • 2013-present: Research Associate, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
  • 2013-2016: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Auburn University


  • Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society
  • Society of Systematic Biologists



Dr. Whelan is interested in how evolution has shaped the diversity of freshwater organisms and how we can best protect biodiversity from increasing human pressures. Most of his lab’s work uses genomics and bioinformatics to answer questions ranging from how major animal groups are related to how populatoin demographics of endangered mussels and snails vary across landscapes. Active projects include phylogenomics of freshwater snails, conservation genomics of freshwater snails and mussels in the southeastern US, and genomics and biodiversity of the cnidarian parasite group Myxozoa. Dr. Whelan also studies life history of mollusks with an emphasis on the freshwater snail families Pleuroceridae and Semisulcospiridae. Much of the work in Dr. Whelan’s lab directly influences policy decisions of United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and his lab collaborates with private, state, and federal stakeholders to improve freshwater conservation.


  • Whelan, N.V., M.P. Galaska*, B.N. Sipley*, J.M. Weber*, P. D. Johnson, K.M. Halanych, B.S. Helms. (2019) Riverscape genetic variation, migration patterns, and morphological variation of the threatened Round Rocksnail, Leptoxis ampla. Molecular Ecology. 28:1593-1610.
  • Strong, E.E., N.V. Whelan. (2019) Assessing the diversity of western North American Juga (Semisulcospiridae, Gastropoda). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 136: 87-103.
  • Warren, M.B.*, H.R. Dutton*, N.V. Whelan, R.P.E. Yanong, S.A. Bullard. (2019) First Record of a Species of Mermithidae Braun, 1883 Infecting a Decapod, Palaemon paludosus (Palaemonidae). Journal of Parisitology. 105: 237-247.
  • Warren, M.B.*, C.F. Ruiz*, N.V. Whelan, D.C. Kritsky, S.A. Bullard. (2019) Gymnurahemecus bulbosus gen. et sp. nov. (Digenea: Aporocotylidea) infecting smooth butterfly rays, Gymnura micrura
    (Myliobatiformes: Gymnuridae) in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with a taxonomic key and
    further evidence for monophyly of chondrichthyan blood flukes. Parasitology Research. 118:751-762.
  • Whelan, N.V., K.M. Kocot, T.P. Moroz, K. Mukherjee, P. Williams, G. Paulay, L.L. Moroz, K.M. Halanych. (2017) Ctenophore relationships and their placement as the sister group to all other animals. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 1: 1737-1746.
  • Whelan, N.V., P.D. Johnson, J.T. Garner, E.E. Strong. (2017) On the identity of Leptoxis taeniata – a misapplied name for the federally threatened Painted Rocksnail (Cerithioidea: Pleuroceridae). Zookeys. 697: 21-36.
  • Whelan, N.V., K.M. Halanych. (2017) Who let the CAT Out of the Bag? Accurately dealing with substitutional heterogeneity in phylogenomics. Systematic Biology. 66: 232-255.