Page last updated at 09:27 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Scientist's child lecture honour

Professor Sue Hartley
Professor Sue Hartley's lectures are entitled The 300 Million Year War

A scientist at the University of Sussex is to deliver the Royal Institution's prestigious Christmas lectures for children.

The five talks by ecology Professor Sue Hartley on how plants defend themselves against animals, are being screened in the run up to Christmas Day.

Michael Faraday began the lectures in 1825 to explain science in a more fun and accessible way.

The talks have been broadcast on television since the 1960s.

Professor Hartley said: "Doing the lectures is a lot of fun. It's great to see the kids so excited by cutting-edge science."

'Fitting accolade'

Her series of lectures are entitled The 300 Million Year War.

University of Sussex vice-chancellor, Professor Michael Farthing, said: "The invitation to deliver the Royal Institution's Christmas lectures was a fitting accolade for Professor Hartley, her success as a scientist and her obvious talent as a communicator.

"The University of Sussex is delighted for her and we will all watch with pride."

Previous lectures have been delivered by Desmond Morris Sir Richard Attenborough, Richard Dawkins and Heinz Wolf. The first woman to give the Christmas talks was brain scientist Susan Greenfield in 1994.

Professor Hartley is a leading authority on how plants and herbivores interact, was vice-president of the British Ecological Society from 2004 to 2007.

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