There are many that are not stopped by being small. Very many, in fact!

MIRIAM is a new member of the stomatopod team and joined us from close collaborators and friends Almut Kelber, Dan Nilsson and Eric Warrant in Lund, Sweden. She is recording from neurons in the stomatopod visual pathway, trying to understand how they decode up to 20 channels of information with a relatively small brain.

In the past, Miriam studied colour and polarization vision in a number of insects (damselflies, crickets, moths, and flies). She has also been involved in research on onychophorans, demonstrating that this colourful sister group of arthropods (an invertebrate group including insects and crustaceans) is colour-blind.

Before Miriam noticed that invertebrates are fascinating and deserve more attention, she spent her time investigating the eyes of the Vietnamese leaf turtle, and worked as a field assistant on the nocturnal foraging behaviour of the grey mouse lemur.

Miriam acquired her expertise in sensory ecology and neurobiology at universities in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, and Australia, and at research stations in France, Israel, Brazil, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Namibia, and Australia.


Advanced eyes are major innovations in animal evolution, and have both fascinated and puzzled generations of scientists. I am particularly interested in vision in arthropods.

Arthropods are animals with an exoskeleton, a segmented body and jointed legs. They are the largest animal group on earth and can be found almost everywhere on this planet. We tend to forget about them, because most of them are small. Their brains are also small compared to vertebrates (like us) or cephalopods (such as octopus, squid, and cuttlefish).

Yet, similar to vertebrates and cephalopods, arthropods have evolved sophisticated eyes. How do they make sense of complex visual information from the environment without much computing power? Do they use the same or different processing strategies as their ‘brainy’ relatives? Are the small brains of arthropods one of the reasons for their enormous diversity of eye designs?

I am trying to answer questions like these using a number of different techniques including behavioural experiments, electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, and phylogenetics. Sometimes, I get distracted by exciting side projects that open up a whole new world. There is so much to discover!


1999 BSc Eberhard-Karls University Tübingen, GERMANY
2002 MSc Eberhard-Karls University Tübingen, GERMANY
2009 PhD University of Zurich, SWITZERLAND

2009-2015 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Lund University, SWEDEN
2016-Present  Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The University of Queensland, AUSTRALIA



  • Hong Diem Vo

    PhD candidate (UQ)
  • Amy Marie Streets

    PhD candidate (UQ)




Kirwan JD, Graf J, Smolka J, Mayer G, Henze MJ*, Nilsson DE*. 2018. Low-resolution vision in a velvet worm (Onychophora). J Exp Biol 221: jeb175802. * These authors share senior authorship. Download Paper


Lind O, Henze MJ, Kelber A, Osorio D. 2017. Coevolution of coloration and colour vision? Phil Trans R Soc B, 372 (1724): 20160338. Download Paper 




Telles FJ, Lind O, Henze MJ, Rodríguez-Gironés MA, Goyret J, Kelber A. 2014. Out of the blue: the spectral sensitivity of hummingbird hawkmoths. J Com Physiol A 200(6):537-546. Download Paper 






Book chapter


Henze MJ (2013) Der Sehsinn der Chinesischen Zacken-Erdschildkröte. In: Schaefer I (ed) Zacken-Erdschildkröten – Die Gattung Geoemyda. Natur und Tier-Verlag: 77-83.