“In the study of this membrane [the retina] I for the first time felt my faith in Darwinism (hypothesis of natural selection) weakened, being amazed and confounded by the supreme constructive ingenuity revealed not only in the retina and in the dioptric apparatus of the vertebrates but even in the meanest insect eye… I felt more profoundly than in any other subject of study the shuddering sensation of the unfathomable mystery of life.”
– Santiago Ramon y Cajal
Lily is a PhD student in the Marshall Lab with a multi-disciplinary background in neuroscience, infectious disease and immunology. She completed a Bachelor of Medical Science and subsequently obtained First Class Honours in Neuroscience within the Cooper lab (QBI, Australia) focusing on developmental neuroscience, molecular biology and genetics. She has worked as a research assistant in malaria immunology in Australia (QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute) and antibody engineering in the United Kingdom (University of Aberdeen). In July 2018, she commenced her PhD in sensory neurobiology under the supervision of Dr Fanny de Busserolles and Professor Justin Marshall. Her current project offers the unique privilege of contributing to the multi-disciplinary fields of neuroscience, evolution and ecological conservation by investigating the ontogenetic development of vision in fish with contrasting habitats and lifestyles.
I am interested in how fish see their world. Newborn larval fish start their lives together in the wide, open pelagic ocean and as they grow older some dive down deep into the darkness and others seek out the bright, technicolour coral reef. I will explore how these extraordinary habitat changes over the fish’s lifetime can shape and colour its visual system.
I am utilising histological, molecular and behavioural methods to characterise and compare the ontogenetic development of teleost fishes with contrasting habitats and lifestyles. The project will focus on species adapted to dim-light environments, notably deep-sea fish and nocturnal coral reef fish, which have devised a multitude of both shared and divergent answers to an ancient evolutionary and developmental question: how can you see in the dark? I also hope to deepen our understanding of the neural circuits underlying the processing of visual data in dim-light conditions, with a focus on nocturnal coral reef fish. Lastly, given the increasing influence of anthropogenic activities on marine wildlife, I will also investigate the impact of light pollution on visual system development in coral reef fish. This work will form the basis of my PhD, which I commenced in July 2018.
2015 Honours (First class) in Neuroscience, University of Queensland, AUSTRALIA
2018 – Present PhD, Sensory Neurobiology Laboratory, QBI, University of Queensland, AUSTRALIA
2017 – 2018 Research Assistant, Scottish Biologics Facility, University of Aberdeen, UNITED KINGDOM