Dr Lenny Yong
Research Fellow


As an evolutionary biologist, I am broadly interested in elucidating the mechanisms by which biodiversity is generated and maintained, particularly the molecular and evolutionary causes of sexual diversity, both behavioral and morphological, in natural populations. Currently as a postdoctoral research associate in Dr. Alastair Wilson group and in collaboration with Dr. Deborah Charlesworth (Edinburgh) and Dr. Darren Croft (Exeter), I am investigating how and why sex chromosomes evolve using the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata), a species with young sex chromosomes and a textbook example for sexual selection studies. Using a combination of fieldwork, breeding experiments, quantitative and molecular genetics, I am examining whether male nuptial coloration and their underlying genes map to sexual antagonistic hotspots on sex chromosomes, and testing their role in sex chromosome turnover and the structural evolution of the genome.

I completed my Ph.D. with Dr. Jeffrey McKinnon, studying the evolution of female ornamentation in threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) using behavioral, physiological, and genetic approaches. Because fishes are one of the most variable and species-rich vertebrates on the planet, I have primarily and extensively worked with them, including zebrafish, medakas, gobies, and cichlids, to answer fundamental evolutionary questions. 

Broad research specialisms:

  • Sexual selection/Dimorphism
  • Animal Behavior/Coloration
  • Genetic architecture of phenotypic traits
  • Morphological/Behavioral evolution


B.Sc./ B.A. (Biology & Psychology), Berry College
M.Sc. (Neurobiology/Behavior), Georgia State University
Ph.D. (Interdisciplinary Biology), East Carolina University

Contact details

AddressTremough House
University of Exeter
Penryn Campus
TR10 9FE

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