Sensory neurobiology group

Understanding how the brains and sensory systems of animals in the real world have been shaped by their environment and behavioural needs


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With questions such as, Why are shrimps like satellites? Why are reef fish colourful? and Why are octopus colour blind?, research in the Marshall laboratory is focussed on visual neuroscience and visual ecology in Australia’s vibrant marine environment.

Sometimes called Neuroethology this field of research involves both lab and field-based neuroscience. It aims at understanding how the brains and sensory systems of animals in the real world have been shaped by their environment and behavioural needs.

Group videos

Justin Marshall Labs Overview

Justin Marshall Deep Sea

Justin Marshall Lab Stomatopod Group

Meet the man who saw the First Gian Squid Footage

Coral watch

Group leader

Professor Justin Marshall

Group Leader, Sensory neurobiology group

Professorial Research Fellow

  +61 7 334 51397
  UQ Researcher Profile
  Marshall Lab
  Sensory Neurobiology Group website

Our approach

The Marshall group’s work is based around crustacean (e.g., mantis shrimp), cephalopod (e.g., octopus), and fish eye and brain structure and function. This comparative and whole of system approach to understanding vertebrate and invertebrate vision includes anatomical, electrophysiological, molecular (transcriptomics) and behavioural methods, along with the physical quantifying light in the natural environment.


Aims to achieve

  • How do the 20-channel of information eyes of the mantis shrimp visual system efficiently encode information to the brain? Is there a form of sparse code at play? What can this teach us about more efficient and rapid ways to examine our own planet (assuming mantis shrimps are from another one).

  • The ring-shaped and dispersed cephalopod brain is designed very differently to that of the vertebrates or indeed other invertebrates. However, their cognitive abilities rival medium sized mammals (your dog or cat); so how does this different brain design achieve the same complexity of behaviour?

  • Anemonefish (Nemo) are brightly coloured and can see UV. Why – what are the colours and extended vision for?

Research areas

  • Visual ecology
  • Visual neuroscience
  • Colour vision
  • Polarisation vision
  • Behavioural ecology
  • Coral reef and deep-sea ecology

Our team

Group Leader

Post-doctoral Researchers / Research Fellows

PhD Students

Support Staff


  • Kerstin Fritsches
  • Uli Siebeck
  • Meri Peach
  • Hing Ang
  • Sonja Kleinlogel
  • Tom Lisney
  • Devi Stuart-Fox
  • Sam Waller P
  • Chris Talbot P
  • Connor Champ P
  • Adrian Flynn P
  • Andy Dunstan DA P
  • Amy Newman  
  • Hanne Thoen DA P
  • Genevieve Phillips P
  • Anne Winters
  • Rachel Templin P
  • Sara Ostlund-Nilsson
  • Nathan Hart
  • Lydia Mathger
  • Karen Cheney
  • Lotta Skogh
  • Vincenzo Pignatelli
  • Tsyr-Huei (Short) Chiou
  • Martin How
  • Shelby Temple
  • Yi-Hsin Li
  • Yakir Gagnon
  • Sara Stieb
  • Miriam Henze

Research excellence

$33M in grants last calendar year
400 peer-reviewed publications last calendar year
5 Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science

$200M+ in cumulative funding
Our researchers are cited 3x more than average
100% of donations go to the cause

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