Jan Hemmi

Associate Professor, PhD ANU

  • The University of Western Australia (M092), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • 1731 Citations
  • 26 h-Index
1995 …2022
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Personal profile


I was born and brought up in Switzerland where I studied biology at the University of Zürich with a focus on Ethology (animal behaviour). At that time I was particularly interested in cognitive and social processes in primates and horses. In 1994 I came to Australia to do my PhD in the Developmental Neurobiology group at the ANU. My project explored the relationship between the structure and function of the tammar wallaby's visual system. The unusual photoreceptor topography I observed in these animals sparked my interest in visual ecology. After the completion of my PhD I joined the Visual Sciences group (ANU) where I began work on the ecology of visual information processing in fiddler crabs. I joined UWA in 2012 to work on the visual control of behaviour in fiddler crabs. The relationship between sensory processing and animal behaviour is the main focus of my research group. Much of our work is highly comparative and involves a range of different animals. We work on ants and crabs to crocodiles, lizards, fish, sharks and dunnarts.

Roles and responsibilities

- Honours coordinator School of Animal Biology
- Academic editor PLOS ONE
- UWA CMCA's Scientific Advisory Committee member
- Member Editorial Advisory Board Journal of Experimental Biology

Research Techniques
- Analysis of animal behaviour: Field and laboratory work (macaques, wallabies, possums, dunnarts, flies, bees, lizards, ants, crabs)
- Spectrographic imaging and measurements
- Quantitative video film analysis, Multiple camera calibration / alignment
- Immunocytochemistry (retinal wholemounts, tammar wallaby)
- Microspectrophotometry (MSP) (tammar wallaby, spotted quoll)
- Electrophysiology: Electroretinogram recordings (ERG), Visual Evoked Potentials (VEP) and Patch clamp recordings (tammar wallaby), Intracellular recordings (crabs)
- Extensive experience in multivariate statistical analysis and experimental design including: Multiple regression, Generalised linear regression, Generalised Linear Mixed Models, Residual Maximum Likelihood Analysis, Permutation analysis

Major software design
- Digi: A sophisticated C/Matlab based analogue/digital video analysis system. The x-y-position analysis of video sequences includes automated frame by frame tracking of individual objects and their orientation. Includes detailed labelling of behaviours and extensive search capabilities.
- Digilite: A free, simplified, fully Matlab based version of DIGI developed together with Robert Parker.
- C-program (Linux) for the control of an operant conditioning apparatus for visual discrimination experiments.

Funding overview

2018-2020 “Polarization vision: insights from biological systems for imaging solutions“
Hemmi, Partridge, How– ARC DP180100491 $394,402
2016-2018 “RoboCrab: An integrative approach to understanding natural escape decisions“ Hemmi, Partridge, Webb – ARC DP160102658 $437,500
2016 “Xenotec OcuScience ERG System (Electroretinogram) “
Chen, Hunt, Forrester, Degli-Esposti, Hemmi, Andoniou, dos Santos Carvalho - NHMRC
2014-2016 “Transcriptome sequencing and functional characterisation of craniate non-visual sensory systems and their adaptation to diverse light environments” Davies, Hunt, Carter, Hemmi & Partridge– ARC DP140102117 $380,000
2013 “A case of mistaken identity? Why do sharks attack humans?” Hart, Hemmi & Ryan– SWRRFI research grant $11,000
2011-2014 “Neuro-ecology: information processing under natural conditions” FT110100528 Hemmi – ARC Future Fellowship $711,993
2010-2013 “Insect Hovering Flight” Zeil, Hemmi – Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) $219,000
2010 Three month visiting fellowship grant for Dr J. Douglass – ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science $8,000
2009 Two month visiting fellowship grant for Mr. Olle Lind – Centre for Visual Sciences $4,500
2008 Two month visiting post-doc Fellowship grant for Dr. Richard Peters – Centre for Visual Sciences $8,000
2007 Three month visiting fellowship grant Dr. Tobias Merkle – Centre for Visual Sciences $8,000
2007 Three high intensity tuneable light sources and accessories – ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science $85,000
2005-2007 “To flee or not to flee: surviving on incomplete information” DP0558038 Hemmi, Zimmer, Zeil, ARC Discovery Project $265,000
2005 Synchronized, medium Hi-Speed Firewire 3-Camera system- Centre for Visual Sciences $16,000
2003 Ocean Optics spectrograph Hemmi, Zeil - IAS-PPF Fund for Biotechnology $8,000

Previous positions

2012 - 2016 ARC Future Fellow, School of Animal Biology, University of Western Australia.
2008 – 2011
Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science, The Australian National University, Group leader Visual Neuroethology, Research School of Biology.

2003 - 2007
Research Fellow, Research School of Biological Sciences, Visual Sciences, The Australian National University. From 2007, Group leader Visual Neuroethology, Research School of Biology.

2002 - 2003
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Centre for Visual Sciences, The Australian National University.

2000 - 2002
Fellowship for advanced researchers, Swiss National Science Foundation, Visual Sciences, Research School of Biological Sciences, The Australian National University.

1999 - 2000
Fellowship for prospective researchers, Swiss National Science Foundation, Visual Sciences, Research School of Biological Sciences, The Australian National University.

1998 - 1999
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Centre for Visual Sciences. Visual Neurosciences, John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University.

Teaching overview

Coordination & teaching
BIOL1130 “Fronitiers in Biology”, 1st year course
ANIM3320 “Comparative Neurobiology”, 3rd year course

ANIM5505 “Marine Neuroecology and Behaviour”, 4th/5th year course
ANIM3364 “Behavioural Ecology”, 3rd year course


Neural control of behaviour
Animal behaviour
Sensory ecology




  • Neuroscience
  • Vision
  • Behaviour
  • Colour vision
  • Sensory ecology
  • Marsupial vision and behaviour
  • Invertebrate vision and behaviour

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Jan Hemmi is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 2 Similar Profiles
crabs Agriculture & Biology
crab Earth & Environmental Sciences
Macropodidae Medicine & Life Sciences
Marsupialia Medicine & Life Sciences
Brachyura Medicine & Life Sciences
Contrast Sensitivity Medicine & Life Sciences
Color Vision Medicine & Life Sciences
Retina Medicine & Life Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1995 2019

A new method for mapping spatial resolution in compound eyes suggests two visual streaks in fiddler crabs

Bagheri, Z., Jessop, A., Kato, S., Partridge, J., Shaw, J., Ogawa, Y. & Hemmi, J., 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : The Journal of Experimental Biology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

compound eyes
spatial resolution
2 Citations (Scopus)

Differential responses to increasing numbers of mild traumatic brain injury in a rodent closed-head injury model

Fehily, B., Bartlett, C. A., Lydiard, S., Archer, M., Milbourn, H., Majimbi, M., Hemmi, J. M., Dunlop, S. A., Yates, N. J. & Fitzgerald, M., Jun 2019, In : Journal of Neurochemistry. 149, 5, p. 660-678

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Brain Concussion
Closed Head Injuries
Corpus Callosum
1 Citation (Scopus)

Evidence for Sleep in Sharks and Rays: Behavioural, Physiological, and Evolutionary Considerations

Kelly, M. L., Collin, S. P., Hemmi, J. M. & Lesku, J. A., 27 Nov 2019, In : Brain, Behavior and Evolution.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Offshore Oil and Gas Platforms as Novel Ecosystems: A Global Perspective

van Elden, S., Meeuwig, J. J., Hobbs, R. J. & Hemmi, J. M., 4 Sep 2019, In : Frontiers in Marine Science. 6, 9 p., 548.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Open Access

Retinal topography and microhabitat diversity in a group of dragon lizards

Nagloo, N., Coimbra, J. P., Hoops, D., Hart, N. S., Collin, S. P. & Hemmi, J. M., 1 Oct 2019, In : Journal of Comparative Neurology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Vertebrate Photoreceptor Cells

Projects 2011 2022