Hanlie’s main research interest concerns the relationship between Islam and politics. Her PhD thesis explained the moderate platform of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (SMB), against the inclusion-moderation hypothesis. Currently, she is researching Muslim religiosity in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Writing projects include Iran's foreign policy towards Syria, teaching 'Islam and Politics' in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and turning her dissertation on the SMB into a book.
Hanlie’s research interest in the Arab Middle East has been served well by her former career as a diplomat to Jordan (1993-1997), Chargé d'Affaires to Palestine (2000 – 2004), and Deputy Head of Mission to Syria (2009 – 2012).