I have a desire to work at the intersection of science and public policy, updating our laws to better reflect scientific realities.  I want to better understand and affect the American system of wildlife conservation from the ground up: from field work and wet-lab genetics all the way up to Congressional Acts and Supreme Court cases.  I recently graduated with a JD and will be finishing my PhD soon.


Juris Doctor – University of Arizona – 2018
James E. College of Law
Certificate in Environmental Law, Science, and Policy
Magna cum laude, Order of the Coif

PhD Candidate – University of Arizona – Projected 2019
Major: Genetics Graduate Interdisciplinary Department
Minor: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

BS – Washington and Lee University – 2013
Majors: Biology and Biochemistry


My primary research interests lie in utilizing genetic and genomic techniques to better inform the management of our wildlife.  I’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide range of species from across both the Southwest and the Tree of Life: mountain lions, bighorn sheep, Sonoran pronghorn, northern creseted caracara, black-tailed prairie dogs, Anodontid mussels, and tick-borne diseases, just to name a few.

I have two major prongs of my dissertation project: the Evolutionary History of Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) and the Selective Effects of Sport Hunting on Mountain Lions (Puma concolor) in the Uncompahgre Plateau.  Check out the project pages for more information on each of those.

Outside of the lab, I am drawn to better communicate science to the public and our law makers.  I designed and co-teach a course, Conservation Genetics Lab.  The course takes students through each step of an experiment from DNA extraction through publishing an academic paper.  Additionally, I am Institute of the Environment Fellow through the Carson Scholars program. where I am becoming trained to better utilize these communication skills.

Bringing the law and science into line is one of my biggest interests, and the reason I started law school.  Ultimately, I want to better understand and affect the American system of wildlife conservation from the ground up: from field work and wet-lab genetics all the way up to Congressional Acts and Supreme Court cases.  In law school I focused on environmental law and I served as the Articles Editor for the Arizona Journal of Law and Policy.  In the summer of 2017 I worked in Anchorage, AK as a summer law clerk for EarthJustice.


Teaching Fellow, James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona
Law 402B/502B – Common Law II – Fall 2018
Law 454/545 – Environmental Law – Fall 2018
Law ??? – Chemistry and the Law – Fall 2019

Teaching Assistant
WFSC/GENE/ECOL 430L/530L – Conservation Genetics Lab – Fall 2016, Fall 2018
Law 389 – Sex, Race, Drugs, and Power in the Supreme Court – Spring 2018


 More Information

If you want more information:
Office: Environmental and Natural Resources 2 (ENR2) N290 DD3
Email: jaerwin@email.arizona.edu
Want to know more about my background or publications: Resume
Keep up to date with what I’m doing with: Blog Posts
Project Pages: Prairie Dogs and Mountain Lions

Recent Publications and Media


Erwin, J.A., Vargas, K., Blais, B.R., Bennett, K., Muldoon, J., Findysz, S., Christie, C., Heffelfinger, J.R., Culver, M.C., Genetic assessment of a bighorn sheep population expansion in the Silver Bell Mountains, Arizona, PeerJ (2018), in press.

Erwin, J.A., Hybridizing Law: A Policy for hybridization under the Endangered Species Act (Abstract), 48 Environmental Law Reporter 10740 (2018), https://elr.info/news-analysis/48/10740/hybridizing-law-policy-hybridization-under-endangered-species-act-abstract.  Abstract republished as an honorable mention in the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review.

Erwin, J.A., Canis rufus is Dead! Long Live the Red Wolf!, ABA Endangered Species 2017 Law Student Writing Competition (2017), https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/environment_energy_resources/writing_competitions/2017/2017_es_wc_canis_rufus_is_dead.authcheckdam.pdf.

Erwin, J.A., Hybridizing Law: A Policy for hybridization under the Endangered Species Act, 47 Environmental Law Reporter 10615 (2017), https://elr.info/news-analysis/47/10615/hybridizing-law-policy-hybridization-under-endangered-species-act. [PDF]

Erwin, J.A., Fitak, R.R., Dwyer, J.F., Morrison, J.L., Culver, M., Molecular detection of bacteria in the families Rickettsiaceae and Anaplasmataceae in northern crested caracaras (Caracara cheriway), Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2016.01.015. [PDF]

Erwin, J.A., PumaPlex: A tool for the genetic analysis of pumas, Wild Felid Monitor (2016), Vol. 9, Issue 1.

Recorded Presentations

Borderlands Science Cafe Series: Blood, Tissue, Hides and Bones: Using Conservation Genomics to Inform the Reintroduction of Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs


Group of 11 UA Graduate Students Named Carson , UA News (2017).

Finding the Right Genetic Match: Science, Policy, and Prairie Dogs, UA Institute of the Environment (2017).

2017 Endangered Species Student Writing Competition Winners, American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (2017).

Prairie dogs welcomed to new home near Sonoita, Nogales International (2017).