Gabriella Amato, Junior, Biology

Gabriella Amato, Junior, Biology:

What do you research?I am studying the molecular evolution of a regulatory gene that plays an important role in the antiviral immune response in viral infections like Zika. We are looking to see if the current animal models we are using, like mice, have the same regulatory processes as humans. This will allow us to learn if they are appropriate models to be using to research this virus.

How do you conduct your research?
I do research in a bioinformatics lab, which means that all of the work I do is computational. I spend most of my time collecting and analyzing biological data using various computer programs.

How did you become involved in research at Kent State?
I have always been interested in doing research, so when I was a freshman I asked my advisor about what opportunities Kent had. They gave me a link to a web page that had all of the different labs listed, and I emailed the few that seemed interesting to me.

What do you enjoy most about research?
I enjoy getting to expand my knowledge on topics I love learning about. I am always learning something new. Participating in undergraduate research has also allowed me to connect with peers that have similar interests as me.

What was one of the biggest challenges you have encountered in the process of research? How did you overcome it?
It is a lot of trial and error, and that can get frustrating sometimes. It can be hard to not let yourself get bogged down by the details. I find that just asking questions to others in my lab as well as consulting the literature on the topic helps.

How do you think you have grown as a student and/or as a professional as a result of research? What would you tell a friend who would like to become involved in research?
Having the opportunity to be involved in undergraduate research has really given me a deeper understanding on what research is and how to stay organized. Some of the data sets I work with can have 50+ animals in them, so staying organized is key.
If any of my friends were interested in getting involved in research, I would tell them to just go for it! Putting yourself out there can be scary, but the lessons you will learn doing research are invaluable.

What are the benefits of undergraduate research? What are the commitments involved in undergraduate research?
Due to undergraduate research, I have been able to participate in a fellowship and present my research. In general, undergraduate research and the activities that come along with it are a great way to build up your resume and get that experience employers are always looking for.
Being involved in undergraduate research is also definitely a time commitment. The amount of time you put into your research will reflect in the quality, so it is important to be upfront about how much time you can spend per week doing lab work.