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This page is dedicated to the memory of PGSS alumni and faculty who have left us early in life.  Our classmates have passed away far too young, but still had a great impact on our lives and the world around them.  Please join us in remembering them.

Prof. Juan Schäffer

A longtime Professor of Mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University, Juan began his service at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences in 1986. For many years he served as both an elective lecturer and team project instructor for Math team projects at PGSS. Juan took great pride and pleasure in working at PGSS, referring to the program as “the high point” of each year’s interaction with students. He transformed his personal satisfaction into a bestowed gravitas each year, when he announced each graduating PGSS student by name at the closing ceremony, with perfect pronunciation and the clearest of diction. 
Juan was quick to note that the aspect of PGSS he appreciated the most was that it encouraged students to learn the importance of collaboration. Juan, your enthusiasm and dedication will be sorely missed, but we will continue to support PGSS, the program to which you so generously gave your time and talents.

Details about Dr. Schaffer's memorial service can be found in his obituary.

Dr. Schaffer gave an interview for our blog back in 2014.

We invite you to leave your thoughts, memories and condolences here. We will be sharing them with his family.

Vinod Vemuri (PGSS 2006)

Vinod Verumi passed away on December 30, 2014. He was a graduate of Columbia University and had majored in applied mathematics at the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

His obituary can be found at  

Christopher Elliott (2008)

Christopher Elliott, known by his 2008 PGSS classmates as "Leaf", passed away in July 2013. He graduated with a degree in Geosciences from Williams College.

Christopher Michael “Leaf” Elliott
2009 Warwick Valedictorian Passes Away

Christopher (Leaf) Michael Elliott went home to be with the Lord on July 24 at 3:30 pm doing what he loved most at East Rosebud Lake, Carbon County, Montana. Christopher has been described by those who knew and loved him as a ‘dazzling multi-faceted character’ who lived his 22 years to his fullest.

Christopher attended Morningstar Preschool, Lititz Christian School, Lititz Elementary, and Warwick High School. A member of the National Honor Society and French Honor Society, he also participated in the Academic Competition team including the Quiz Bowl and Knowledge Master Open teams, and the JETS team. He was awarded the Warwick Scholar Awards in 11th grade for English, Math, Science and French. The founder of the Drama Club, which still exists today, was one of his proudest achievements. He studied physics at IUP in the summer of 2007. He was selected to attend the PA Governor’s School for the Sciences during the summer of 2008. He graduated from Warwick High School in 2009 as Valedictorian with a GPA of 4.66.

Christopher graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts with a Bachelor’s degree in Geosciences and was on the Dean’s list 6 out of 8 semesters. As a Geosciences major, he studied Geomorphology, Mineralogy, Geochemistry, Paleobiology, Evolution of Volcanic Arcs, Structural Geology, Sedimentology, Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, Linear Algebra and Math Methods for Scientists. His studies took him around the globe to Hawaii, Egypt, Ireland, California and lastly to Montana where he was studying Field Mapping through Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association. He also spent one winter study at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts analyzing data from an isotope mass spectrometer. It was his intention to attend graduate school to study structural geology.

His hobbies included photography, philosophy, poetry, sketching, music and playing the guitar. He rode road bicycle, motorcycle and loved climbing- rocks or trees. He taught rock climbing at Williams College for 3 years as part of the Williams Outing Club.

Christopher was born October 7, 1990 in Lancaster PA. He is survived by his mother, Linda J. Elliott, and step father Gregory J. Frey of Lititz; maternal grandparents James and Judy Weisen of Lititz; also paternal grandparents Angelo and Angela Falciani; his father, Mario J. Falciani all of Swedesboro, NJ; and an extensive extended family.

Friends are invited to share in Christopher’s life celebration on Saturday, August 17 at Grace Church, 501 W. Lincoln Avenue in Lititz at 2 PM, followed by food and fellowship at the Hamilton’s, 87 Sego Sago Road, Manheim.

In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the “Christopher Elliott Scholarship Fund”, c/o Citizens Bank 1 E. Main Street, Lititz PA 17543. The scholarship will be awarded to a Warwick HS senior who best exemplifies the qualities of Christopher’s life.

Adnan Bashir (PGSS 2004)

Adnan Bashir completed the Penn State/Jefferson Medical College dual degree BS/MD in 2011. He was an anesthesia resident at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine at the time of his passing in 2013. 

Laura Sheard (PGSS 2002)

Laura Sheard passed away in November 2011. She was from Jim Thorpe, PA, and had been pursuing a PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Washington in Seattle at the time of her death.

David Shipe attended PGSS in 2013. He was a 2018 Allegheny College graduate in biology and environmental science. He passed after a "hard-fought and lengthy battle with cancer".

Laura Matejik Eberts attended PGSS in 1999.  "Captain Eberts was a judge advocate and had just returned from deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She died in a rafting accident while on her honeymoon at the Iguazu Falls In Argentina. She ran marathons, played rugby and was a pianist and singer.

Vi Nguyen attended PGSS in 1999.  She was from Harrisburg, and had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Biology.

Anthony Canale was from Indiana, PA and was in the PGSS class of 1998.  He died during a trip to Cambodia in 2010, after having spent time teaching in China.

Second Lt. Zachariah Miller, from Stoneboro, PA, was in the PGSS class of 1997.  He was a Truman and Rhodes Scholar, and died during training to become an Army Ranger, shortly after graduating from West Point in 2002. 

Haley Surti, PGSS class of 1996, was from Pittsburgh. She had just graduated from 
Harvard University in 1996 when she passed away while traveling in Peru.

Michael Rhoads attended PGSS in 1993.  He had gone on to study Biology at Caltech University.

Lena Bruce, PGSS class of 1987, was from Philadelphia.  She was murdered in 1992 just after graduating from Tufts University with a degree in Electrical Engineering.  There is a scholarship in her memory at Tufts. A suspect was charged in 2015.

Also of the PGSS class of 1987, William Lewis, a graduate of Blairsville High School, passed away in April of 1997.  He studied Physics at Carnegie Mellon University.

Nicole Lopresti was from Johnstown PA and a member of the 1986 class of PGSS.  She attended college at University of Pittsburgh.

Kathy Bocchieri, PGSS class of 1984, died while still in high school at Council Rock HS in Newtown, PA.


Jonathan Stigelman (PGSS 1984) passed away on November 9, 2013.  He had graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Electrical and Computer Engineering and most recently had been a consultant to the tech industry in Silicon Valley.  Those who know him may remember him as "Stif Hackvan". 

Frederick Arnold, PhD, who was originally from Monroeton PA, died in 2007.  He was in the PGSS class of 1984.  Frederick had served as a staff scientist at the University of Chicago, and Director of Scientific Computing at Northwestern University.  He was also an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department at the State University of New York, Binghamton.

Eric Fleischer was in the PGSS class of 1983.  He was originally from Wyomissing, PA, and is survived by his wife, Sue Ellen.

Angela Gugliotta, PhD, was a PGSS TA in 1986.  She went on the work at the University of Chicago as a lecturer in environmental history.

Delorese Ambrose, EdD, devoted a great deal of her time teaching leadership seminars at PGSS through the 1980's and 90's.  She was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and author of several books.

Kristy Richards (PGSS 1985) was born in Chambersburg, PA. She attended McConnellsburg High School, followed by Cornell and and an MD/PHD from Stanford. 

If you have any memories, pictures, or tributes you would like to add, or if you have any corrections to this page, please email