Following a background in microbiology and biochemistry, Sue joined the Cariology Group at the University of Liverpool in 1983. In 1986 she was awarded her PhD from the University of Liverpool for her studies in the relationships between pH, carbohydrate and nitrogen metabolism in human dental plaque under the supervision of Professor W M Edgar. A year later she received Chartered Biologist status and Membership of the Institute of Biology. She was appointed as a Research Fellow in Professor Edgar's laboratories in the Department of CLinical Dental Sciences at The University of Liverpool in 1987 where she continued her research on dental plaque metabolism. In 1991 she took up a position as Lecturer in Oral Biology and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1999 and then to a Professor of Oral Biology in 2003.
Professor Higham has supervised over 40 Postgraduate students and has published over 350 book chapters, peer reviewed papers and abstracts.