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Dina Navon

Dina Navon

Assistant Professor


Abbotsford campus, B347

Phone: 604-504-7441 ext. 6361

email Dina


I joined UFV as an Assistant Professor in August 2022. My path to UFV is a little unusual; I grew up in a suburban area just north of Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. I completed my undergraduate and graduate education in my home state. My undergraduate alma mater is a small teaching university much like UFV, with a real focus on undergraduate research experiences. I worked with Drs. Susan Foster and John Baker who extensively studied Alaskan and BC populations of three-spine stickleback examining life history evolution like the egg size/clutch size tradeoff. My graduate work at the University of Massachusetts in Dr. Craig Albertson’s lab focused on evolution and development of a new system – African cichlids, an extensive adaptive radiation comprised of over 3000 species of fish in the African rift lakes. In 2019, I struck out to start a postdoctoral project at the University of California Riverside studying three-spine stickleback near the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Vancouver Island. Much of that project involved active field work, so I moved out to Bamfield in early 2019 and stayed there through October 2020, at which point I began a new postdoctoral project on zebrafish in Dr. Tetsuya Nakamura’s lab at Rutgers University in New Jersey. When I first applied to graduate school, I would have told you that my ultimate goal for my career would be to earn a faculty position at a small, teaching-intensive school, so I am extremely excited to be working at a school like UFV.

In addition to fish, evolution, and development, I am also extremely passionate about science communication, outreach, and activist work for minoritized populations. As a graduate student, I led a graduate-level seminar on Science Communication, wrote for several blogs like Oceanbites and That’s Life [Science]!, and helped organize my program’s Science Café. I also served as the Communications Committee chair for the Graduate Women in STEM organization at UMass.

You can find out more about me on Twitter (@evodevoDina) or through my website.


BSc – Biology Department; Clark University (2013)

PhD – Organismic & Evolutionary Biology Program; University of Massachusetts Amherst (2019)

Postdoctoral Fellow – Evolution, Ecology, & Organismal Biology Department; University of California Riverside

Postdoctoral Fellow – INSPIRE Program; Rutgers University

Research Interests

The overarching goal of my career has been to understand how genomes, traits, environments, and development interact to build the vertebrate body, and how tweaks to all of these factors can facilitate evolution. More specifically, I am interested in a biological phenomenon called “plasticity”. Plasticity allows complex morphological structures like the vertebrate face to sense and respond to information from the environment within an individual’s lifetime. It therefore allows organisms to respond to their environment without waiting around for evolutionary processes; however, it can also contribute to evolution by shaping the trajectory of morphological change. My research utilizes a combination of cutting-edge genomics and functional assays to determine the molecular basis of this critical ability in African cichlids, zebrafish, and three-spine stickleback. My graduate and postgraduate work in the Albertson and Nakamura labs sought to understand this phenomenon in cichlids and zebrafish.

The research I am conducting at UFV will further develop three-spine stickleback as a powerful model for plasticity, continuing some of the work done by Matt Wund, Susan Foster, and others but taking my unique, multidisciplinary evo/devo approach to these classic evolutionary questions. If you are at all interested in working on this project, please send me an email! I am actively seeking undergraduate research collaborators for the 2023-2024 academic year, and I am happy to advise directed studies and honors thesis projects. We can work together on projects I already have planned, or we can develop an independent project for you! The first step is to get in touch and have you start learning about the system and the work you would be doing. I’m here anytime!

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