Nathan Kelete is a sophomore majoring in computer science and a Chancellor’s Science Scholar within the UNC College of Arts and Sciences. He spent this past summer studying toxic air exposure in the Fry Lab within the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, but hopes to ultimately use artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve problems.
Q: How did you discover your specific field of study?
A: The summer before freshman year of high school I built my own computer, which sparked an interest in learning how computers work. I joined the coding club the next year and learned HTML. Through the projects I made, I found that I had a love for computer science. I started making my own projects, and my love for the art that is coding only grew more as I taught myself about programming languages.
Q: Academics are problem-solvers. Describe a research challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it.
A: When I joined the Fry Lab in Gillings for the 10-week QUEST internship, I was assigned to investigate the effect of toxic air exposure on proteins in the placenta. The biggest challenge was that I had no prior experience with this kind of topic, so for the first two weeks of my internship, I read and collected over 50 research journals and articles. I also consulted my mentor and other scientists who have experience in the field.
Q: Describe your research in five words.
A: Be aware of the air.
Q: Who or what inspires you? Why?
A:My fellow peers in the Chancellor’s Science Scholars program, as well as the program directors, push me to do my best. It’s nice to be surrounded by a group of people who all have the same experiences and career goals as me.
Q: If you could pursue any other career, what would it be and why?
A: It would have to be something in the humanities, probably something to do with literature or philosophy. Despite majoring in STEM, I’m drawn to the humanities and love to read. Philosophy is also very interesting to me. For example, “The Stranger” by Albert Camus encapsulates my love of both literature and philosophy.