Jumping into Research

Nathan Kelete sits in a labNathan Kelete ’25 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. He hopes to ultimately use artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve problems.

Endeavors magazine caught up with Kelete to learn about his research and aspirations.

Kelete found his field of study through independent exploration throughout his high school years.

“The summer before freshman year of high school I built my own computer, which sparked an interest in learning how computers work,” said Kelete. “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.”

The Chancellor’s Science Scholar program encourages and assists students to find research opportunities across campus. Kelete participated in the Equity and Environmental Justice Program (QUEST) internship – a paid summer experience for undergraduate students interested in environmental justice–based research that is funded by a grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

“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,” explained Kelete. “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.”

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