CCRI graduate receives prestigious NSF fellowship

 CCRI graduate receives prestigious NSF fellowship
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Here is a beautiful success story of a first-generation Dominican student who transferred to URI from CCRI. Camila is now headed to MIT this fall and will study rheology. She reminds us of how vital our CCRI graduates are in researching diseases while making strides toward finding cures.

Camila Cersosimo: interdisciplinary focus

A recently graduated chemical engineering major, Camila Cersosimo ’24 (of Lincoln) will use her award at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, beginning her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in September.

Immigrating to the U.S. at 18 and having to work to finance her education meant that Cersosimo took longer to complete her undergraduate journey than most students. A first-generation student from the Dominican Republic, Cersosimo enrolled at the Community College of Rhode Island and got her first taste of research working as a lab technician at Rhode Island Hospital while in school.

“I got a taste of the difficulties of diagnosing and treating serious illnesses,” she says, “and noticed the role research plays in solving those problems.”

In 2021, Cersosimo transferred to URI, joining associate professor Samantha Meenach’s lab to help develop therapeutics to treat pulmonary disease. She says her experiences while at URI made her appreciate the relevance of her chosen field for societal well-being. She decided to apply for the NSF fellowship as a way to become more familiar with her topic of interest before graduate school applications; learning that her “practice” application was successful was a welcome surprise.

At URI, she was also named a Goldwater Scholar in 2023, participated in the MARC U*STAR undergraduate research training program, and received the Undergraduate Academic Excellence Award for chemical engineering at graduation.

While at times she felt overwhelmed by the American education system, mentorship made a difference and she hopes to become a mentor for other non-traditional students in the future.

Cersosimo says URI expanded her interests and skills, with the support and encouragement found there: “Although I’m not sure of exactly what position or industry I’d like to work in after getting my Ph.D., I know I’ll have the skills to solve novel and difficult problems anywhere I go.”

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