2009 Christmas Lecturer Professor Sue Hartley is an ecologist specialising in the study of plant-animal interactions.
She did her first degree in biochemistry at the University of Oxford before deciding to move into ecology and apply her chemical knowledge to the study of plant defences against insect herbivores. This was the topic of her PhD and a personal fellowship at the University of York. She then moved to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, near Aberdeen where her research focussed on the foraging behaviour of larger herbivores, red deer and sheep, and their impacts on moorland plant communities.
In 2001 Sue Hartley moved to the University of Sussex. Here her research group focuses on the mechanisms by which plant defences, particularly silica in grasses, affect herbivore performance, and on how plant responses to herbivores affect the other organisms which also attack plants, such as endophytic fungi and parasitic plants. She also works on plant-herbivore interactions overseas, with projects on over-grazing by camels and goats in the Sinai desert, and on the impacts of insect herbivory on tropical tree seedlings in Malaysian Borneo and in Uganda.
Sue has served as the Vice-President of the British Ecological Society and has worked as an advisor on the ecological impacts of genetically modified organisms for the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority.