Staff Spotlight: Jonathan Schlosser
Author: Eh Mwee
Prior to joining Odum, Jonathan Schlosser cut his teeth in the classroom. He has been teaching for 14 years, starting out as a lifeguard and a swimming instructor, working as a college adjunct, and, for a short time, teaching 7th-grade Spanish.
Jonathan did his undergraduate at Binghamton University in New York studying environmental science, and later went on to pursue his Master’s in environmental development at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom. There, he dove into courses focusing on GIS and Remote Sensing, and developed a love for data analysis. Jonathan soon decided he wanted to pursue research at the nexus of social media, disinformation, and computational data science, which led him to UNC-Chapel Hill. He is currently pursuing his PhD in the Hussman School of Media and Journalism.
The road that led him to where he is today was not an easy one. Jonathan grew up in Sullivan County, NY, a self-proclaimed “trailer park kid,” from a family that didn’t have much. He was the kid who faced a lot of challenges that he had to overcome to get where he is today.
Now he is breaking generational curses, being the first in his family to go to college through the traditional route. Fueled by his passion for knowledge, he pulled himself up to claim a spot at one of the best schools in the country.
When asked how he feels about breaking those curses, Jonathan said, “On one hand, I am very proud of what I have accomplished and I am excited for what the future holds, but I am also pretty humble about that because I recognize that I wouldn’t be where I am today without certain opportunities and people willing to help along the way.
“There is this element where I am cautiously optimistic about my career path because I know how quickly it can dissolve. I wouldn’t even say that I have actually broken the generational curses yet and that I am still working on reaching certain goals.”
In his current role at the Odum Institute, Jonathan supports the statistical help desk as a consultant, helping UNC students, staff and faculty develop appropriate statistical approaches and research designs for their research projects. He specializes in many statistical topics, particularly natural language processing (NLP) and advanced data science.
Jonathan is also currently working with Correlation One as a data science teaching assistant, lead instructor, and curriculum design consultant. He is also the director of data and assessment for the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG).
Since joining Odum in August 2020, he has learned to think through a variety of projects and identify common blockades. Working with Odum has taught him how to be flexible as he works on multiple projects simultaneously.
Jonathan’s goal within Odum is “to work on diverse projects, learning diverse skill sets, with diverse people.” He hopes to be able to “contribute back to a community which has contributed a lot to him,” as he has taken numerous courses that Odum offers, helping him build connections in a safe environment. A recent accomplishment is that he has just accepted a new role as a Senior Data Scientist and is looking forward to making an impact in an industry setting.
In the future, Jonathan hopes to build his own consulting company working with data, AI, ethics, and social media, that aims to make social media platforms more democratic and better for society.
In his free time, he likes to watch movies and documentaries, and says he spends a bit too much time on Netflix. He loves learning about history, especially the daily lives of regular people, and collects antiques. When asked what a few fun facts are about himself, Jonathan said that his favorite novel was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, that he was a big fan of music and concerts, and that he used to work at a radio station in college.
One thought that he would like to leave you with is that “through education, you really can make a lot of dreams happen, and a lot of them can come true.”