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Dr. Maya L. Evenden

B.Sc. Biology, University of Victoria, 1991

Master of Pest Management,  SFU, 1994

Ph.D. Biological Sciences, SFU, 1998


Assoc. Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Alberta


I graduated with a BSc in Biology from the University of Victoria in 1991.  After a year at Université Laval to brush up my French, I started at Simon Fraser University in the Master of Pest Management (MPM) Program.  Those intensive two years involved taking eleven courses, conducting field research throughout BC, and writing and defending my thesis.  My MPM research was conducted in the laboratory of the internationally renowned insect chemical ecologist, Dr. John Borden.  My initial experience in the Borden lab got me hooked on insect chemical ecology research and applications of semiochemicals to Integrated Pest Management.  I continued in the Borden lab for my PhD but my focus shifted to research of chemical communication in orchard-inhabiting moths and I was co-supervised by Dr. Gary Judd (another SFU alumnus) at Agriculture and Agri-food Canada in Summerland, BC.  In 1998, I defended my PhD thesis which was entitled: “Semiochemical-based disruption of mate-finding behaviour in Choristoneura rosaceana (Harris) and Pandemis limitata (Robinson) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) in British Columbia apple orchards”.  After graduating from SFU, I pursued postdoctoral studies at the University of Kentucky and my husband, Steven Dokken (another SFU alumnus), and I moved to Lexington, KY.  Before leaving Kentucky for my first faculty position at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, our first daughter, Hannah Dokken was born.  In Pennsylvania, I continued to conduct research in orchard agroecosystems and I was introduced to teaching undergraduate students.  In 2003, I received an NSERC University Faculty Award that allowed me to join the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta.  In Alberta, my research has focused on the chemical ecology of insects considered to be pests of agriculture and forestry in western Canada.  In Alberta, I have graduated ten graduate students from my lab since 2003 and produced another daughter, Nyssa Dokken in 2006. 


Why did you choose to go to SFU?

I chose SFU because of the MPM program.  I wanted to study Entomology at graduate school and the reputation and applied focus of the MPM program drew me to SFU.  I stayed at SFU for my PhD because of the opportunity to continue working with Dr. John Borden.

Where did you spend the most amount of time on campus?

ALL of my time on campus was spent in the Borden-Winston lab in the Department of Biological Sciences.  If not in the lab, I could be seen riding my bike up and down Burnaby Mountain.

What is your favourite memory from your time at SFU?

The best part of my SFU experience was the summer MPM courses.  Fifteen graduate students travelled around BC and Alberta learning about the management of different weed, fungal and insect pests in a variety of cropping systems.  The experiential-based learning approach meant the material would stick with us after the courses were completed.  The friendships made through hours of travel together, also lasted long after we graduated from the program.

Who was your favourite SFU professor and why?

After my Dad (Dr. L.J. Evenden, Dept. Geography), my favourite SFU professor was my SUPERvisor, Dr. John Borden (Dept. Biological Sciences).  The encouragement and guidance provided by Dr. Borden throughout my six-year tenure at SFU made my graduate studies a stimulating and enjoyable learning experience.  I try and emulate John’s enthusiasm for research and incredible work ethic in my current dealings with graduate students in my laboratory at the University of Alberta.  

How has your SFU degree impacted your career?

A PhD in Biology from SFU opened doors for me.  Because of the excellent training I received in insect chemical ecology at SFU, I was offered a postdoctoral position in a well-known chemical ecology and insect behaviour laboratory at the University of Kentucky immediately upon graduation.  My SFU connections have been a large asset in my career as a researcher.  I continue to collaborate with Dr. G. Gries (Dept. Biological Sciences) and my mentors Drs. Borden and Judd.  I also interact regularly with colleagues who were my lab and classmates during graduate school at SFU.

What is your favourite SFU snow story?

I was stuck at SFU when the busses stopped running one snowy night in the winter of 1995.  I made the most of it though; I spent the night in the lab making food for my insect colony!

If you could give advice to students today, what would you tell them?

My advice to students is to get involved in experiential learning as soon and as often as possible.  Volunteer in a laboratory, take a field course, join a co-op program, stack your schedule with as many labs as possible…it will be worth it.

What is the one thing about SFU that must not change?

SFU must maintain its strong commitment to experiential learning.