Professor Marshall was awarded a Bachelor of Science with 1st Class Honours in zoology from the University of St Andrews, Scotland in 1985. He completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Neurobiology in 1991 at the University of Sussex, Brighton, researching vision in mantis shrimps. Professor Marshall continued at the University of Sussex until 1996, when he took up a position in the Vision Touch and Hearing Research Centre within the School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Queensland. He was recruited to the Queensland Brain Institute in 2010. The recipient of many grants and awards, most recently in 2011 Professor Marshall was awarded The University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellowship and in 2012 he was awarded a Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award by the Australian Research Council. His research is funded by the Australian and United States funding agencies.
Professor Marshall has published extensively, including:
Professor Marshall’s principle aim is to understand how other animals perceive their environment. As arrogant humans we tend to assume we are the pinnacle of evolution, however, certainly in sensory terms this is far from true. By taking an approach to sensory systems which is based around ecology but also includes physiology, anatomy, behaviour and neural integration, he hopes to decode languages such as colour and polarisation.
Much of his work focusses on the marine environment, in particular reef systems and the deep-sea. As part of this effort he has become acutely aware of man’s influence on both these environments and now run two projects / organisations: The Deep Australia Project, bringing research submersibles and high-tech deep-sea capability to Australia for the first time and CoralWatch, the world’s largest citizen-science-based coral health assessment program (60 countries, 10 languages).
The six main research streams within the Marshall laboratory are:
- Visual ecology and comparative visual systems in reef and rainforest
- Vision in stomatopod (mantis shrimp) – the world’s most complex visual system
- Reef fish vision – the evolution and diversity of colour vision
- Cephalopod vision and behaviour - complex visual capability in invertebrates
- The Deep Australia Project – unlocking the sensory systems of the abyss
- Coral Watch – using colour to save the reef
- Dr Karen Cheney – UQ School of Biological Sciences
- Professor Shaun Collin – University of Western Australia
- Professor Roy Caldwell – University of California, Berkeley
- Professor Tom Cronin – The University of Maryland Baltimore County
- Professor Ron Douglas – Texas A&M University
- Professor Dan-Eric Nilsson – Lund University
- Professor Hans-Jochen Wagner
- Professor Eric Warrant – Lund University
- Associate Professor Sonke Johnsen – Duke University
- Dr Roger Hanlon – Marine Biological Laboratory
- Dr Julian Partridge – University of Bristol
- Dr Edith Widder – Ocean Research and Conservation Association
- Australian Oceanographics
- Great Barrier Reef Research Expeditions
SE Temple, V Pignatelli, T Cook, MJ How, T-H Chiou, NW Roberts and NJ Marshall 2012 High Resolution polarisation vision in a cuttlefish. Current Biology. 22:R121.
NJ Marshall & TW Cronin. 2011 Polarisation vision. Current Biology. 21:R101-R105.
NW Roberts1, T-H Chiou, NJ Marshall and TW Cronin 2009 A biological quarter-wave retarder with excellent achromaticity in the visible wavelength region. Nature Photonics 3:641-644.
Tsyr-Huei Chiou, T-H, et al and Marshall, N.J 2008 Circular Polarization Vision in a Stomatopod Crustacean. Current Biology, 18, 429-434.
CH Mazel, TW Cronin, RL Caldwell and NJ Marshall 2004 Fluorescent enhancement of signalling in a mantis shrimp. Science 303:51.
Sensory processing in the aquatic environment 2003 (eds SP Collin and NJ Marshall) Springer. New York.
KE Arnold, IPF Owens and NJ Marshall 2002 Fluorescent signaling in parrots. Science. 295:92-93.
TW Cronin, NJ Marshall and RL Caldwell 2001 Tunable colour vision in a mantis shrimp. Nature 411:547-548.
NJ Marshall and J Oberwinkler 1999. The colourful world of the mantis shrimp. Nature 401:873-874.
NJ Marshall and JB Messenger 1996. Colour-blind camouflage. Nature 382:408-409.
TW Cronin and NJ Marshall, 1989 (Front cover). A Retina with at least Ten Spectral Types of Photoreceptors in a Mantis Shrimp. Nature 339:137-140.
NJ Marshall, 1988. A Unique Colour and Polarization Vision System in Mantis Shrimps. Nature 333: 557-560.