A chemistry plus computer science major in the Class of 2022, Nathan Kumar has followed his passion for both chemistry and technology at UIUC and hopes to continue in the future by becoming a physician with an interest in helping patients through the application of technology in healthcare.
As an undergraduate researcher in chemistry professor Doug Mitchell’s group, Kumar has worked with a post-doctoral researcher on the characterization of novel enzymes and on the synthesis and screening of natural products, specifically on ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs) known as lasso peptides.
He has gained experience running his own project as well, planning and executing his own experiment.
“I also get to work alongside many brilliant minds on their own projects while improving my skills,” said Kumar, who chose UIUC chemistry because of many great opportunities to prepare students for life after college and because of the CS+C program that combined his interest in technology and his passion for chemistry and science.
Kumar has also gained experience through a software engineering internship at AbbVie working on a visualization platform for pipeline drugs. Two summer research fellowships in the Department of Chemistry have allowed him to spend his summers continuing the undergraduate research he does during the academic year. And he has been an LAS leader in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, which is a community service and alumni organization through which Kumar and other leaders volunteer at school events and host their own events to support the community.
Kumar said the most impactful opportunities at UIUC have been ones that have developed his leadership and communication skills.
“By putting myself in these positions, I was able to learn and grow extremely quickly, and that has also been beneficial to other areas of my life,” said Kumar, who has worked with Illini Emergency Medical Services as an EMT at UIUC athletic and entertainment events.
“I was involved in many organizations during my undergraduate career, mainly because I wanted to push myself to meet new people and also learn about something interesting,” he said. “I really enjoyed the sense of community each organization has, and I think participating in these individual communities is one of the great things about the college experience. Even at a huge university like UIUC, I believe you are able to find people who will support you as long as you put the effort in. Making connections is an extremely important skill to have, and a university with so many people like UIUC is a great place to learn how to do so.”