Dr Natalie Ferry

School of Science, Engineering & Environment

Photo of Dr Natalie Ferry

Current positions

Senior Lecturer


My first degree was in Plant Science from the University of Durham. Following this I developed an interest in Genetically Modified Crops and studied for my PhD at the University of Newcastle working on the environmental impact of GM crops. I worked as a postdoctoral scientist at Newcastle University for 6 years, focusing initially on cell wall degrading enzymes (with Prof Harry Gilbert) and then the Molecular basis of Plant-Insect Interactions (with Prof Angharad Gatehouse).

I took my lectureship in Biotechnology at the University of Salford in 2010 where my research now focuses on identifying plant cell wall degrading enzymes from under-studied environments, GM crops and plant peptides.

Areas of Research

My research is primarily focused on the Green Bio-economy, sustainability, agricultural biotechnology, slugs and plant cell wall degradation.

Novel biomaterials (derived from plant biomass or novel polymers eg slug slime) can potentially move us towards a sustainable green bio-economy replacing oil-based base materials. The sugars and monomers locked in plant cell wall polymers (lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose) may be used as alternative raw materials for fuel and manufacturing as well as as plastic replacements. Mucins, found in mollusc slime, have a wide range of potential biomedical applications as hydrating, stretchable coatings.

Over the past 10 years the Ferry lab have identified and cloned 2,500 enzymes that successfully break down plant biomass by screening understudied environments (such as the microbial consortia found in invertebrate guts). Recently, a suite of enzymes that degrade hemicellulose specifically have been expressed as recombinant proteins. The lab is currently focussed on activity testing and application / commercial exploitation of these enzymes.

Areas of Supervision

I welcome applications for research into CAZymes, applications of mucins, biomaterials and novel enzymes.


I am Head of the Biomedicine subject area.

I contribute extensively to our MSc programmes in Biotechnology, Drug Design and Discovery and Biomedical Science. Due to my interests and research background in biotechnology I lead several modules in this subject area including at Level 7 Green Biotechnology and Molecular Biology and Proteomics.

I also contribute to level 7 Postgraduate Scholarship Skills, Research Design and Delivery and Professional Practice. I offer a range of research projects at both level 6 and 7 focusing mainly on the biochemical characterisation of plant cell wall degrading enzymes, the use of 16S rDNA PCR to identify the microbial consortia involved in cellulose degradation in invertebrate guts and the application of slug slimes in anti-ageing processes. At MSc level projects focus on the production of recombinant proteins and screening of metagenomic libraries.

Qualifications and Recognitions

  • PgCert Academic Practice

    2013 - 2014
  • PhD

    2000 - 2004