Prof. Carlin
Associate Professor Carlin

Molecular Ecology, Aquatic Conservation, and Systematics

Chair of Biology Department, 2016-19; Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies

Telephone (507) 933-6305, E-mail:

linked in facebook Twitter wechat

Originally from Indiana, Joel Carlin received his B.S. in marine biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a M.S. in zoology from Louisiana State University, where he studied salamander evolution in the southeastern U.S. Joel then became a marine biologist for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for three years, where he worked on stock identification in the newly developed wreckfish fishery. He then received a Ph.D. in fisheries from the University of Florida for his work on the systematics and population genetics of groupers, a diverse subfamily of commercially valuable tropical fishes. You can consult his curriculum vitae for details about his career.

Dr. Carlin taught genetics recitations for three years while a graduate student in Louisiana, and later taught conservation biology for the University of Florida honors program. He spent three years in eastern Washington state at Whitman College, teaching a variety of classes including conservation biology, fisheries, island biogeography, evolution, marine biology, genetics, and introductory plant biology. In 2014, he taught seafood biology and maritime history for United International College in Zhuhai, China.

At Gustavus, Dr. Carlin teaches introductory courses for majors and alternates among teaching Bio 101 Biological Principles (Fall), Bio 102 Organismal Biology (Spring), Bio 383 Aquatic Biology (every other Fall), Bio 385 Evolution (Spring) and the nonmajors Bio 100 Fish and Fisheries (Spring). He has taught an international IEX course Bio 146 Natural History of Ecuador and the Galapagos and is currently leading the Gustavus study abroad program, Living Diversity: Malaysia. For syllabi, his outlook on teaching, and class descriptions, look at his teaching page.

Dr. Carlin conducts research on phylogeography, evolution and habitat quality in both freshwater and marine environments, specializing in the consequences of both anoxia and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. However, as a strong believer in the benefits of undergraduate research, he has mentored undergraduate projects on an adaptive radiation of snails from African rift lakes, phylogenetic reconstruction of west African HIV strains, and speciation in tropical plants. Additional teaching interests include marine biology, maritime history, ichthyology, the biology behind human beauty, the ecopolitics of food, fisheries biology, and study of rap music. He also participates in talks to schoolchildren, churches and the community. Dr. Carlin is an active participant with the American Fisheries Society, has served as a grant reviewer for both the National Science Foundation and the North Pacific Research Board, which directed reseearch efforts following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

Conducting research aboard a NOAA ship in the Gulf of Mexico