Doctor Emma Sumner

Dr Emma SumnerEmma joined the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE) as post-doctoral research fellow in June 2022 and is working within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Success in Nature and Agriculture. She has a particular interest in understanding how plants respond and recover to heat and drought stress.

At HIE, Emma is working with Distinguished Professor Ian Wright on adaptations to heat and water stress in Andropogoneae grasses. This large tribe of C4 grasses include species native to Australia such Sorghum and Themeda.

Emma recently completed her PhD at Deakin University in 2022, under the supervision of Associate Professor Susanna Venn, researching how co-occurring drought and heatwaves affect the thresholds and acclimation of heat and freezing tolerance among Australian alpine plants. Emma used manipulative experiments carried out in the field and in the glasshouse to test how alpine plants respond to climate extremes. Prior to completing her PhD, Emma received a Bachelor of Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) at La Trobe University with Honours in 2017. Emma’s honours project was focussed on the biotic and abiotic factors controlling the elevational distribution of a high mountain daisy.

Areas of Research/teaching expertise

Plant ecology, ecophysiology, drought tolerance, thermal tolerance
During my PhD, I led practicals for several Deakin University undergraduate modules including Australian Vegetation and Its Management, and Environmental Botany on plant identification and plant ecology.

  • Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment (2021)
  • Centre for Integrative Ecology Scholarship (2020, 2021)
  • Parks Victoria Grant (2020)
  • The Joyce W. Vickery Research Fund, Linnean Society Grant (2019)
Selected publications

Sumner EE, Morgan JW, Venn SE, Camac JS, (2022) 'Survival and growth of a high-mountain daisy transplanted outside its local range, and implications for climate-induced distribution shifts', AoB Plants, vol.14, pp 1–10

Sumner E, Venn S, (2021) 'Plant responses to changing water supply and availability in high elevation ecosystems: A quantitative systematic review and meta‐analysis', Land, vol.10, no.11, p 1150