Sight and how it changes is a focus for PhD candidate Audrey Appudurai - but her subjects are fish rather than humans.
Audrey is studying lungfish, which lose their ability to see in the ultra violet spectrum, and she wants to find out why.
Part of her thesis will be a work of art, representing the way lungfish perceive their environment. This section of her research is supervised by Assistant Professor Ionat Zurr, Academic Coordinator of UWA's Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, SymbioticA.
Lungfish lose their sight as they mature, so Audrey will be observing six juvenile lungfish in an aquarium on campus, hoping to record the moment when the fish's sight fails.
Her work is also being supervised by a world leader in comparative neurobiology and vision, Winthrop Professor Shaun Collin, and his UWA colleague Associate Professor Nathan Hart. They are members of UWA's Neuroecology Group, Oceans Institute and School of Animal Biology. Professor Hart's research aims to understand what natural selection pressures drive adaptation in and evolution of the visual system.
Australian lungfish, an endangered species, are unique among the world's six species of lungfish because, as juveniles, they can see in UV.
They are the closest living relatives to the animals that first walked out of the water onto land in the Devonian period about 400 million years ago.
Published in UWA News, 14 May 2012