“You have to not be afraid to fail,” said undergraduate researcher Abbigayle Cuomo ’21. “I had to keep an open mind and be willing to try and work for it.”
Cuomo, a senior in the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program and a URECA scholar, works in the lab Dr. Carlos Simmerling, using molecular dynamics to investigate protein structure and folding. In 2020, she was awarded the Dr. Kenneth M. Nicholas Undergraduate Fellowship to support her summer research on “Testing Parameters for Simulation of Phosphorylated Amino Acids.”
“It all kind of worked out for me because of Lauren Raguette, a PhD student in the group,” she said. Raguette recruited her for the Simmerling group after they met as TAs in a chemistry class.
“She’s the best mentor I think I ever could have asked for,” Cuomo said. “It’s worked out really well.”
Cuomo has twice received the Academic Achievement Award. She is a member of the Women’s soccer club and has worked part time at Chick-fil-A throughout college. Abby received an international baccalaureate diploma from Commack High School, and benefited from positive classroom and science research experiences in high school, including participation in the Siemens and Regeneron STS science competitions. Last summer she was involved in a COVID-19 research project, simulating the part of the viral spike protein that binds to a receptor in a cell.
Cuomo’s advice to prospective undergrad researchers is straightforward: “Don’t give up If you don’t like the first research experience you try,” she said. “You are allowed to find something else that you like doing.”
- Read the complete interview with URECA director Karen Kernan