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Kayla Fast

Research Associate

Ms. Kayla Fast joined The University of West Alabama in 2016.  She is a Research Associate in the Laboratory of AQuatic Evolution (LAQE).  Ms. Fast works on grant-funded projects in the fields of freshwater biodiversity conservation, ecology and evolution of infectious diseases, and wildlife diseases. We promote conservation of native fish through surveillance using environmental DNA (eDNA) in water and population genomics achieved with next generation sequencing.  We are monitoring the presence of Mycobacterium ulcerans and other Mycobacterium spp. on the skin of fish in the southeastern United States and French Guiana.  M. ulcerans is the bacterium that causes Buruli Ulcer in humans, a neglected tropical disease; other Mycobacterium species cause disease in fish.  An additional research interest is the co-parasitism of birds by blood parasites that are similar to those that cause malaria in humans.     

field photo


Ms. Fast instructs courses including Introductory Biology, General Zoology, Bioinformatics, and SEA-PHAGES (Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science).  SEA-PHAGES is a two-semester, discovery-based undergraduate research course.  The goal of the course is for students to discover new bacteriophages (viruses) in the soil. Students use microbiology techniques to isolate the virus and are able to name it.  The second SEA-PHAGES semester applies genome annotation and bioinformatic analyses.  Students are given the opportunity to present their findings at local and international meetings and publish them in scientific journals. Ms. Fast is the advisor for the Natural History Collections Conservation Club (NHC3) at UWA.  The NHC3 works to curate, conserve, and research the natural history of our biological collections in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.


  • Master of Science Mississippi State University 2015
  • Bachelor of Science Mississippi State University 2012
  • Recent Publications

  • A need for null models in understanding disease transmission: The example of Mycobacterium ulcerans (buruli ulcer disease) FEMS Microbiology Reviews 2021
  • The complete mitochondrial genome of the Variable Platyfish (Xiphophorus variatus) Mitochondrial DNA Part B 2021
  • The complete mitochondrial genome of the Tennessee Dace (Chrosomus tennesseensis) Mitochondrial DNA Part B 2021
  • Complete mitochondrial genome of the imperiled Trispot Darter (Etheostoma trisella) Mitochondrial DNA Part B 2020
  • Complete genome sequences of mycobacteriophages OKaNui and DroogsArmy Microbiology Genome Announcements 2020
  • Complete genome sequences of mycobacteriophages Candle, Schatzie, Sumter, and Waleliano Microbiology Genome Announcements 2019
  • Complete genome sequences of mycobacteriophages Kwksand96 and Cane17 Microbiology Genome Announcements 2018
  • Genome sequence of a newly isolated F2 subcluster mycobacteriophage from the Black Belt geological region of western Alabama Microbiology Genome Announcements 2018
  • Complete mitochondrial genomes of Baikal oilfishes (Perciformes: Cottoidei), earth’s deepest swimming freshwater fishes Mitochondrial DNA Part B 2017
  • Complete mitochondrial genomes for Cottus asper, Cottus perifretum, and Cottus rhenanus (Perciformes, Cottidae) Mitochondrial DNA Part B 2017
  • Genome sequence of Mycobacterium phage CrystalP Genome Announcements 2017
  • Haemosporidian prevalence and parasitemia in the Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) Journal of Parasitology 2016