Joanna Hall – Camouflage strategies

Name: Dr Joanna Hall

Location: Bristol, UK

What do you do?

I work in CamoLab at the University of Bristol where we study anything related to camouflage. We use a mixture of biology, psychology and computer science to help us understand different camouflage strategies, both in the natural world and for military applications. At the moment I am working on a project investigating whether iridescence (like you see on the back of a CD) can be used for camouflage. Iridescence is common in the natural world where it occurs on flowers and on many animals, such as birds and beetles. This type of colouration is very bright and colourful so it has generally been assumed that it acts as a signal. We are running experiments to find out whether the fact that the colours change as you move around, means that it can also be used to help hide the presence or identity of an object.

What can you see?

I run my experiments in the Motion Lab where we have motion tracking equipment that allows us to record a person’s movements. We are interested in the effects of dappled light so we have set up a spotlight and mirror ball to produce a dappling effect. For our experiments, we hide small targets, that look a bit like beetles, onto a mat of artificial leaves and then we ask people to try to find them as quickly as possible. The motion tracking means that we can not only time how long it takes people to find the target but we can also record how and where they are searching.

When I’m not doing science I…

walk, run and horse ride around the Welsh valleys and Brecon Beacons National Park.

You can find out more about Joanna’s work at: