Emily Dong

Emily Dong

PhD Student
Department of Cell and Systems Biology
University of Toronto
25 Harbord St., Toronto, ON M5S 3G5

Email: Em.dong@mail.utoronto.ca

Current Research

  • Emily studies transmutation— the evolutionary transition between rod and cone identities—in the highly diverse photoreceptors found in the eyes of snakes and lizards.
  • Her major interests lie in understanding the evolution of these cell types by combining studies of development and molecular evolution.


  • PhD Cell and Systems Biology (2019-present)
  • MSc. Physiology, Cell and Developmental Biology (2016-2019)
  • BSc. Animal Biology (First Class Honors) (2011-2015)


  • Faculty of Arts & Science Top (FAST) Doctoral Fellowship (2019-present)
  • R.E. Peter Memorial Scholarship (2018-2019)
  • QEII Graduate Scholarship (2017-2019)
  • NSERC CGS-M Graduate Scholarship (2016-2017)

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Dong, E. M. & Allison, W. T. Vertebrate features revealed in the rudimentary eye of the Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii). Proc Royal Soc B 288, 20202187 (2021).
  • Oel, A. P., Neil, G. J., Dong, E. M., Balay, S. D., Collett, K., Allison, W. T. Nrl Is Dispensable for Specification of Rod Photoreceptors in Adult Zebrafish Despite Its Deeply Conserved Requirement Earlier in Ontogeny. Iscience 23, 101805 (2020).