Dr. Natalie Ferry

School of Science, Engineering and Environment

Photo of Dr. Natalie Ferry

Contact Details

Peel Building - Room G30

Please email for an appointment.


Current positions

Senior Lecturer in Biotechnology; Programme Leader for MSc Drug Design & Discovery, Biotechnology and Biomedical Science


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

Agriculture, Biotechnology, biomass, Cell wall degrading enzymes, Recombinant Proteins, Slug


I am Programme Leader for MSc 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 at Level 6 the Biotechnology module.

I also contribute to level 7 Molecular Biology and Proteomics, 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 characterization of plant cell wall degrading enzymes and the use of 16S rDNA PCR to identify the microbial consortia involved in cellulose degradation in invertebrate guts.  At MSc level projects focus on the production of recombinant proteins and screening of metagenomic libraries.

Research Interests

My research is primarily focused on agricultural biotechnology and plant cell wall degradation.    

Biofuels and green materials derived from plant biomass) can potentially lower greenhouse gas emissions and move us towards a green bio-economy. The sugars and monomers locked in plant cell wall polymers (lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose) may be used as alternative raw materials in such a bio-economy and could be sourced from non-edible/waste plant parts.    

Over the past 5-10 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.

My lab is currently focussed on activity testing and application / commercial exploitation of these enzymes.  

Qualifications and Memberships


  • PhD (2004) University of Newcastle
  • PgCert in Academic Practice, University of Salford


  • FHEA: Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Member of Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre
  • Associate member of the Biomedical Research Centre