Gustavo M. Silva, PhD

Head of the laboratory

Gustavo is a biologist, who obtained his undergraduate and PhD degrees from the University of Sao Paulo, and had his postdoctoral training in the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology at New York University. His research interests revolve around the role of protein ubiquitination in cell fate, aging, and neurodegeneration.

Beyond science, Gustavo enjoys listening to music, playing/watching soccer/combat sports, cooking and trying new flavors, and reading sociology. He tries to do at least three of the items at a time.

Scholars@Duke profile

contact: gustavo.silva[at]duke[dot]edu



Vanessa Simoes, MSc

Lab manager

Vanessa received her bachelor’s in Biology and her Master’s degree in Genetics and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Sao Paulo.  She interned as a Research Affiliate at New York University, and before joining the Silva lab at Duke, she worked as a commercial and marketing manager at R-Crio, a stem cell biotech company. She manages the scientific and organizational operations of the lab and is interested in cellular response to oxidative stress.

Outside lab, Vanessa likes cooking, traveling, outdoor activities, and also enjoys craftwork.

contact: vanessa.simoes[at]duke[dot]edu

Géssica Cabral Barros, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow

Géssica received her bachelor’s in Biochemistry and her Master’s degree in Agricultural Microbiology from the Federal University of Viçosa. She obtained her PhD degree in Biological Chemistry from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Her current interest is to understand the role of ribosome ubiquitination in translation control under oxidative stress conditions.

Outside of the lab, Géssica enjoys going to the gym, watching movies and spending time with her family and friends.

contact: gessica.cabral.barros[at]duke[dot]edu


Shannon Dougherty

Graduate Student

Shannon received her bachelor’s degrees in Molecular Biology and Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh and is a pursuing a doctoral degree through the Duke University Biology Department. She is currently interested in using mass spectrometry to monitor ribosomal ubiquitination during oxidative stress.

Outside of the lab, you are likely to find Shannon taking hikes with her dog, exploring Durham with friends, or curled up on the couch with a good book.

contact:  shannon.dougherty[at]duke[dot]edu


Austin Maduka

MD/PhD student

Austin received his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and is pursuing his MD and PhD degrees through the Duke Medical Scientist Training Program. He is currently interested in how oxidative stress impacts translational control through ubiquitin in mammals, and the implications in disease.

In his free time, Austin enjoys running, discovering new music/chasing concerts, and watching random shows on Netflix.
contact: austin.maduka[at]duke[dot]edu

Blanche Cizubu

Lab technician

Blanche obtained her Bachelor's in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She is still exploring her interests, but genomics and epidemiology are two fields that she is considering when it comes to research. She is also considering a one-year program of Master of Science in patent law. She plans on going to graduate school and pursuing a career in biological research.

In her free time, Blanche enjoys reading novels, baking banana bread, watching movies and new shows.

contact: blanche.cizubu[at]duke[dot]edu

Natori Maske

Lab technician

Natori received her Bachelors in Bioengineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Natori is curious on how the cellular response from oxidative stress underlies neurodegenerative diseases. She is currently exploring her interest in the molecular biology field and plans to obtain her Masters in the near future. When it comes to research, Natori has grown an interest for the advancement of genetic epidemiology.

In her free time, Natori enjoys cooking, traveling, spending time with family, and binge watching a good TV series!

contact: natori.maske[at]duke[dot]edu

Sofia Guerrero

Undergraduate Student

Sofia is a sophomore at Duke University, majoring in biology and minoring in computer science. She plans on attending graduate school and pursuing a career in biological research. Her interests in biology lie in the fields of molecular biology, genetics, and neurobiology. She is interested in how the cellular response to oxidative stress is connected to neurodegenerative diseases.

In her down time, Sofia loves running, traveling, watching films, and food!

contact: sofia[dot]guerrero[at]duke[dot]edu

Dinachi Okonkwo

Undergraduate Student

Dinachi is a junior at Duke University, majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry and global health. She plans on attending medical school and working on reducing health disparities in minority populations. She is interested in the cell signaling pathways of various diseases and understanding how oxidative stress underlies neurodegenerative diseases.
In her free time, she enjoys painting, roller skating, cooking, and watching TV shows.

contact: dinachi[dot]okonkwo[at]


Lana Harley

Lab Technician (2019-2021)

Nate Snyder, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow (2018-2021)

Emma Bucklan

Undergraduate Student (2019-2021)

Julia Marshall

Undergraduate Student (2018-2020)

Andrew Gorman, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow (2018-2019)

Brian Gregory, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow (2019)

M. Sapphire Bowen-Kauth

Summer Undergraduate Student (2019) - SROP

Valeria Santa Melendez

Summer Undergraduate Student (2018)  -SROP