Dr Susannah Thorpe is offering you the chance to ‘be an orangutan for the day’. As a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biosciences, Susannah’s research focuses on the association between animal form function and performance. You can explore this with her by navigating an arboreal assault course (with the help of a parkour free-runner), moving through the trees like an orangutan.
We caught up with Susannah to find out more...
What do you do?
I am a Senior Lecturer in Locomotor Ecology and Biomechanics.
What does that mean?
It means I research and teach about how animals interact with their physical habitat and how this has evolved over the last 6 million years.
How do you describe your research to your friends?
My research is a huge and very enjoyable part of my life, but when I am with friends I try to talk about other things!
What is the best part about your role?
Choosing my own destiny! I can research whatever interests me and I can recruit and work with people that have the same quirky interests as I do – jobs don’t get any better than that.
What qualities make someone a good teacher?
A good teacher is someone with the ability to encourage students to take ownership of their learning in a way that they can apply it not just at university but for the rest of their life.
What inspires you?
Catching something out the corner of my eye that is unexpected or that I don’t understand can be inspirational.
How do you inspire your students?
Hopefully by telling stories, discussing their ideas with them and through my own enthusiasm for my field and appreciation of its humour and quirkiness.
What is the highlight of your life to date?
I was lucky enough to spend a year in the Indonesian rainforest studying wild orangutans. It’s a truly magical experience to sit in the middle of the rainforest with your only company an orangutan peacefully munching through some tasty fruits and contemplating the world.
Why should we vote to go behind-the-scenes with you?
I make a really good cup of tea, and if my research interests you, you are very welcome to share my world!