Abigail Shaughnessy

About Me

I was born in the U.K., but also spent a significant number of years living in Singapore. Growing up in the centre of Asia put me close to some of the world’s most magnificent coral reefs, and I sparked an interest in scuba diving and capturing this vibrant world through underwater photography. The weirder and more colourful the better. This experience gave me the passion and desire to study a Bachelor of Science majoring in marine biology at the University of Queensland. During my studies, I joined the Marine Sensory Ecology Group research group to complete my honours thesis on the intriguing visual system of boxfish. Continuously fascinated at how marine animals see their world, communicate, and show off their bright colourful patterns, I commenced my PhD in 2021. Motivated to share my passion with a wider community, I have taken up ways to combine marine science with science communication.  My commitment to science engagement has taken me to multiple educational events across Australia, where I aspired to engage students with science and STEM culture.  

Research Directions

My PhD research is within the field of visual neuroscience, molecular evolution, and behavioural ecology. I am currently investigating the ability of coral reef fishes to plastically change their visual system to both long-term predictable and more stochastic changes in their light habitat. I aim to understand the variable underlying genetic and ecological mechanisms in colour vision plasticity and its benefit for coral reef fishes. My research uses a suite of techniques, including next-generation transcriptomics, epigenomic sequencing, electroretinograms, behavioural assays, and visual modelling. 


2020 BSc (Hons; Marine Biology) The University of Queensland, AUSTRALIA

2021- PhD The University of Queensland, AUSTRALIA


Cheney, K. L., Hudson, J., de Busserolles, F., Luehrmann, M., Shaughnessy, A., van den Berg, C. P., Green, N., Marshall, N. J. and Cortesi, F. (2022) Seeing Picasso: an investigation into the visual system of the triggerfish, Rhinecanthus aculeatusJournal of Experimental Biology. 225 (7): jeb243907. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.243907

Chan, W., Shaughnessy, A. E. P., van den Berg, C. P., Garson, M. J., Cheney, K. L. (2021). The validity of brine shrimp (Artemia sp.) toxicity assays to assess the ecological function of marine natural products. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 47 (10-11), 834-846. doi: 10.1007/s10886-021-01264-z

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