Universiteit Leiden

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Leonardo Arias Alvis


Dr. L. Arias Alvis
+31 71 527 2125

I am an evolutionary biologist who uses population genetics to understand human population history and the origin and maintenance of linguistic diversity in Western Amazonia. I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Linguistics.

More information about Leonardo Arias Alvis

Fields of interest

  • Population genetics
  • Molecular Anthropology
  • Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Sociocultural diversity
  • Language diversity
  • Gene-language coevolution


My research focuses on understanding human population history and the impact of sociocultural practices on patterns of genetic diversity among extant and extinct human populations. I am particularly interested in Western Amazonia, an area well known for its enormous biological, linguistic and cultural diversity. For my research, I conduct anthropologically informed fieldwork and use cutting-edge DNA sequencing technologies and population genetics to gain new insights about the human past of this region.

Grants and awards

  • 2012 Colombian Science Foundation (COLCIENCIAS) Graduate scholarship to conduct PhD studies abroad.
  • 2011 German Academic Exchange Servive (DAAD) (code number: A/11/15253) Award for a Research Stay, Host Institute: MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.
  • 2007 Universidad del Valle, Vicerrectoría de investigaciones (código de proyecto CI7747) “Obtención de ADN arqueológico y su validación para el estudio comparativo de la diversidad genética de poblaciones prehispánicas y amerindias actuales del Sur-Occidente colombiano”

Curriculum vitae

  • 2018, PhD Evolutionary Genetics, Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany. Thesis: Human population history of Northwestern Amazonia, Colombia. Advisors: Prof. Dr. Mark Stoneking and Dr. Brigitte Pakendorf
  • 2012, MSc. Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Dept. Biology, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia. Thesis: Study of the genetic variation in the mitochondrial DNA of  Native American populations from Amazonia and pre-Hispanic human remains from the Colombian Andes. Advisor: Dr. Guillermo Barreto
  • 2006, BSc Biology, mention in genetics, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Dept. Biology, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia. Thesis: Determination of the allele frequencies of eight autosomal STRs in two Amerindian population samples from the Guaviare Department. Advisor: Dr. Guillermo Barreto


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Univ Centre for Linguistics


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