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PGSS 2001 Virtual Reunion

posted Aug 30, 2020, 8:28 AM by Janet Hurwitz

Thanks to Josh Albert and Amy Blank for organizing a PGSS 2001 virtual reunion. They had a lovely gathering and will be trying it again when more people are available to attend.
Top Row: Scott Plesack, Josh Albert, John Norwood
Bottom Row: Lynn (Reis) Bell, Kim (Clemens) Payne, Amy Blank

PGSS 2019 Virtual Reunion

posted Aug 7, 2020, 1:03 PM by Janet Hurwitz

Thanks to Maya Parekh (PGSS 2019) for organizing a virtual PGSS 2019 reunion and sharing this review, "Since we weren’t able to meet in person and play Capture the Flag with the 2020 class, the PGSS Class of 2019 and TAs reunited through Zoom in July! It was so wonderful to catch up with everyone — it almost felt like we were back at CMU!"

PGSS 2020 Virtual Square Dancing!!!

posted Jul 2, 2020, 12:51 PM by Janet Hurwitz

Thanks to Kyla Brezitski (PGSS 2016, TA 2020) for being the caller, to our alumni who volunteered to be "guinea pigs" beforehand, and to PGSS 2020 govies for their enthusiasm. We love the smiles and the movement! Who would have ever thought square dancing could be done on Zoom??!!

Where will PGSS 2019 govies be heading for college?

posted Jun 7, 2020, 12:58 PM by Janet Hurwitz

Thanks to Cole Skuse (PGSS 2019) for creating this map.

PGSS is going on-line for 2020

posted Apr 15, 2020, 4:03 PM by Janet Hurwitz

Dear PGSS alumni and friends,


We at PGSS Campaign hope that you and your family are doing well during this challenging time.

I'm writing to let you know about a big change to PGSS this summer.  Sadly, but prudently, Carnegie Mellon has announced that there will be no on-campus student programs this summer, due to the pandemic.  Together with program director Barry Luokkala, we have made the decision to put on an online version of PGSS this summer. 

This year's program will run from June 28 - August 1.

This is a great opportunity to salvage the PGSS experience for this year's class, but it's going to take a lot of work.  Everything we know about how to do a successful program has been designed for the five-week, on-campus model.  We're going to have to be creative to give students the kind of experience we're aiming for: an environment where students develop close relationships with peers who share their passion for science, and who learn a lot from each other.

To that end, I am writing to ask for volunteers to help with a few things:

1. Since we are not meeting on campus and using the Mellon College laboratories, team projects will be very different than usual.  We especially want to maintain this piece of the program, but we'll have to do it without physical laboratories.   On the other hand, because we're not confined to Pittsburgh, we can draw on the expertise of all of our alumni and friends to come up with good ideas for team research projects, ideally from someone who would enjoy the opportunity to advise a project via videoconferencing and email.   If you have a good idea for a scientific research project that would be feasible for a team of high-school students, Barry would really appreciate hearing your idea on this form. Even better if you are willing to volunteer to spend at least 6 hours per week advising the students on the project.  (Note that you may earn an honorarium as the formal team-project adviser, if you apply for a PGSS faculty position here, on the CMU website.  If you wish to volunteer without being paid, we will gratefully accept your volunteer hours.)

2. Since we are not going to have the students together in the dorm, we are going to have to replace all of the usual social events and informal interactions that students enjoy together.   I'm therefore proposing to head a committee of alumni who will be compiling a list of ideas for the online equivalent of our residence-life staff.  For example, we may choose to have the students play board games together via online interfaces, or do an online scavenger hunt together, or solve puzzles together.  We may ask students to do interesting icebreaker exercises at the beginning of the program, and figure out ways to rotate students into different online breakout rooms so that they can have the experience of meeting each other in a fun and hopefully science-oriented way.  I'm looking for volunteers who would like to brainstorm with us.  If you're interested in participating on this committee, please let us know via this same form, and I will schedule some meetings for us.

3. We'll also need volunteers to help us test out our new exercises and technology.  If you're willing to be a guinea pig for short periods of time, I'm hoping to get about 50 alumni volunteers to help us stress-test our online technologies and interactive exercises once we've got them developed.  If you're willing to serve as such a volunteer a couple of times in May and June, please let us know via this same form and ask to be put on our list of volunteers.

We're sad that the 2020 students won't get the usual on-campus experience, but with your help we will make the online experience as valuable as possible.  We're hoping we will learn new things from conducting the program this way that might enhance the on-campus program once we return to a more normal world.  Note that the volunteer/suggestion form that I referred to in the previous three paragraphs also includes a box for making additional suggestions to improve the program, so please send us your ideas even if you're not able to commit to volunteer for one of the above activities.  We welcome ideas of all sorts.

Thanks for all your support of PGSS.  As you know well by now, this program could not exist without alumni support.

Stay safe and healthy,

David Reiley '86
President, PGSS Campaign, Inc.

PGSS Houston Meet-up

posted Mar 10, 2020, 6:34 PM by Janet Hurwitz

Thanks toTanya Bryja (PGSS 1992) for arranging a PGSS meetup in Houston at the last minute for a small but enthusastic group when David Reiley was in town to give an update.

PGSS LA-SoCal Meet-up

posted Feb 24, 2020, 5:34 AM by Janet Hurwitz

We haa fun time at the Los Angeles Meet-Up.  Those in attendance included (in picture order from left to right): Zhan Shi (PGSS 2001), Ankur Mehta (PGSS 1998), David Reiley (PGSS 1986), Al Cangahuala (PGSS 1982), David Boncarosky (PGSS 1995), and Carola Donnerhak (David's Boncarosky's wife).

We discussed the PGSS status and plans in between games; the games in the picture were probably a third of the choices available at Game Haus. 

Thanks to Al Cangahuala (PSS 1982) for hosting, and David Reiley (PGSS 1986) for coming in from NorCal to give an update on PGSS.

PGSS reps meet with Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera

posted Jan 31, 2020, 8:06 AM by Janet Hurwitz   [ updated Feb 14, 2020, 7:49 AM ]

Michelle Szpara (PGSS 1986, TA 1992, 1993) and Janet Hurwitz (POG 2003, Board Secretary) met with Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera and Judd Pittman this week about continued in-kind support for PGSS as well as other possible streams of support. Secretary Rivera was very impressed with PGSS when he visited PGSS 2015 and continues to believe PGSS has a profound effect on STEM education in PA through the PGSS program as well as the continued dedication of our alumni.

PGSS 2018 Philly get-together

posted Nov 3, 2019, 4:47 PM by Janet Hurwitz

On Friday November 1, some members of the PGSS Class of 2018 currently at Penn, Princeton, and Drexel met up at Penn's campus to catch up with each other and discuss their recent college transitions. 

Nine PGSS Alumnae Attend PA First Lady's Women in STEM event

posted Oct 19, 2019, 3:10 PM by Janet Hurwitz

On Thursday, October 17, 9 PGSS alumnae, representing three decades from the 80's to the 00's, attended the First Lady's Women in STEM event at the Governor's Mansion in Harrisburg. The PGSS Women in STEM who attended are doctors, professors and engineers. They had a chance to share why PGSS is so important to our Commonwealth. Michelle Szpara (PGSS 1986) brought her shirt (see picture)! Other attendees from left to right are: Marie McGrath (PGSS 1992), Kathleen Ryan (PGSS 1998), Rena Cunard DeArment (PGSS 1987), Michelle Szpara (PGSS 1986), Amanda Johnsen (PGSS1995), Denise Kerchner (PGSS 2001), Kristen Di Norscia Jellison (PGSS 1992), Megan Goschler) Aaron (PGSS 1996), and Ami Parikh Jhaveri (PGSS 1999). 

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