B.S., University of Massachusetts, Chemical Engineering, 1982
M.S., California Institute of Technology, Chemical Engineering, 1985
Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, Chemical Engineering, 1988
Dr. Da Silva's primary research focus is molecular biotechnology. Her research emphasizes molecular level design combined with subsequent application and analysis, and has focused on the important industrial yeasts: Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Bakers' yeast), Pichia pastoris, Kluyveromyces lactis, and Kluyveromyces marxianus.
A major research area is metabolic pathway engineering, including the development of improved methods and tools. Current applications range from engineering S. cerevisiae for the synthesis of polyketides (a very valuable class of pharmaceuticals) to the engineering of yeast for the enhanced uptake and sequestration of arsenic (an environmental application). There is also a strong emphasis on biorenewables in the Da Silva group, including two interdisciplinary projects related to biofuels, and one on the synthesis of biorenewable chemicals (part of CBiRC, an NSF Engineering Research Center at ISU). Another major research effort is a collaborative project on the synthesis of cell-responsive biopolymers in yeast.