Martin Kelly is living the dream as a Linux kernel developer for Microsoft. (In computing, a “kernel” is the main component of most computer operating systems — a bridge between applications and the actual data processing done at the hardware level.)

“You don’t see it, but it is perhaps the most critical component of a computer,” Kelly explained.

Kelly’s passion for programming began in the seventh grade, when he took a C++ programming course at the community college in his hometown of Eugene, OR. He chose Hopkins because the program allowed him to participate in research projects with world-class faculty from freshman year on.

“Research at Hopkins is a major draw,” said Kelly, who worked in the Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics, developing data visualization tools to improve laparoscopic prostate surgery.