Sarah Harris

Dr Sarah Harris BSc Hons, MRes, MPhil, PhD

Lecturer in Biological Sciences

Dr Sarah Harris is molecular biologist who specialises in gut health in fish, looking at both immune responses and the gut microbiome population at the molecular level. In 2005, she started out as a biochemistry student at Keele University (UK) and undertook a 1-year placement at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France. Here, she studied under Dr. Sylvie Dufour, Research Director of the Laboratory of biology of aquatic organisms and ecosystems, looking at reproduction in eels and growth of salmon, and fell in love with aquaculture research.

Between 2009 and 2013, Sarah completed two Masters splitting her time between Keele University with Professor Dave Hoole, and the Fish Disease Research Unit at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover, Germany, with Professor Dieter Steinhagen, looking at innate immune gene expression in carp and establishing molecular methods of analysing gut bacteria populations. Her MPhil was funded by the international Marie Curie Initial Training Network NEMO.

Sarah’s PhD was funded by the Fisheries Society of the British Isles, once more splitting her time between Keele and Hanover, where she studied the impact of β-glucans upon the dynamic between gut bacteria and innate immune parameters in healthy carp. Sarah completed her PhD in 2017.

Next, Sarah took a break from fish and spent 15 months working with Professor Divya Chari and the Neural Tissue Engineering group at Keele on spinal cord regeneration therapies in mammals. Here, she worked with nanoparticles and minicircle technology engineering neural stem cells to express neural growth promotors and fluorescent markers for tracking potential transplant populations of cells. Alongside this, Sarah began lecturing, and teaching practical laboratory and data analysis skills.

In February 2020, Sarah joined the University of Greenwich as a Lecturer in Biological Sciences on a teaching and scholarship pathway. She is module lead for biology and practical skills for all foundation year students within the School of Science.

Responsibilities within the university

Module leader on the extended course pathway within the School of Science:

  • Introduction to Biology
  • Introductory Practical Science

Research / Scholarly interests

Sarah’s research interests are in the use of natural products in fish health, particularly looking at the interaction between the immune response and the associated commensal microbial population.

Through the pandemic, Sarah has also found an interest in developing alternate ways of teaching practical lab skills when working in a lab is not possible.

Recent publications

Getti GTM, Harris SJ, Alexandru IC, Boulas R, Huckstepp R, Hiteshbhai Gandhi V, Muntean D, Pires Piedade A, Brempong L, Tresserras Segura C, Ugwuanyi A (2021). The challenges of teaching and learning during a pandemic become an opportunity: reflections on a student and academic partnership. Compass: Journal of Learning and Teaching. 14 (3)

Finch L, Harris SJ, Solomou G, Sen J, Tzerakis N, Emes RD, Lane CS, Hart SR, Adams CF, Chari DM (2020). Safe nanoengineering and incorporation of transplant populations in a neurosurgical grade biomaterial, DuraGen PlusTM, for protected cell therapy applications. Journal of Controlled Release. 321: 553-563

Harris SJ, Bray DP, Adamek M, Hulse DR, Steinhagen D, Hoole D (2020). Effect of β-1/3,1/6-glucan upon immune responses and bacteria in the gut of healthy common carp (Cyprinus carpio). Journal of Fish Biology. 96 (2): 444-455.