The PGSS class of 2019 was full of songs, memories, and long-lasting friendships. For 5 weeks, 56 students from the state of Pennsylvania came together to live at Hamerschlag House and take classes at Doherty Hall. The curriculum additionally featured lab courses, electives, and team research projects that culminated in research papers and a presentation at the Governor’s School scientific symposium.
“PGSS allowed me to delve deeper into science than I ever had in school with interesting courses and the opportunity to conduct research. The guest speakers gave me insight on all my career options with STEM. PGSS gave me invaluable experience, amazing friends, and a stronger love for science. I highly recommend it to any rising senior–it was my most educational and fun summer all wrapped into one incredible 5-week experience” -Kavish Senthilkumar

The Classroom Experience

(From left to right): (1) Frank Wang and David Han wearing light-bending glasses in the Laser technology elective, taught by PGSS alum and vice president, Ben Campbell. (2) Chemistry jokes made by Prof. Collins during the Physics core course (3) Prof. Collins prized “dark notes.”
The core classes included Biology of Cancer and Stem Cells, Organic Chemistry, Computer Science and Cyber Security, Discrete Mathematics, and Concepts of Modern Physics. Electives included Higgs Boson, Geometry, Laser Technology, Foundations in Music, Brain on the Fritz, and the Chemistry of Photography.
“I loved the PGSS classes, which were nothing like I had ever experienced before. Definitely harder than anything I’ve learned in high school, but infinitely more interesting!” – Nina Zhang

Downtown Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Pirates Game

Kennywood Amusement Park

Weekends at PGSS included going out with friends and exploring the sights of Pittsburgh! Some highlights include going to a Pirates game, Kennywood, and the Deustchtown Music Festival.
“PGSS is 5 magical weeks of continuous excitement, growth, and fun, from meeting a whole group of new people all the way to parting as lifelong friends.”- Phillip Grabovsky
“It was definitely a life-changing experience. The valuable life lessons and all of the people I met will stay with me forever. There’s no better way that I could have spent my summer.”- Emma Cartney
“PGSS was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I will always remember staying up late into the night – not solving physics problems – but learning about my classmates and the schools they came from, the classes they took, the families they were a part of, the religions they practiced, the food they ate, the towns they lived in, and the futures they had planned. Together, with our different experiences, worldviews, backgrounds, talents, and passions, we formed a bond strong enough to last a lifetime.” – Alex Gibson



Team Projects and Lab Groups

1. One of the biology project teams: Modeling UV-Induced Damage and Sunscreen Efficacy Using S. cerevisiae2/5. One of the computer science project teams: Cheating the Cheat: A Computational Approach to a Card Game of Deception3. Group photo of the chemistry lab group4. One of the physics project teams: Stretched to the Limit: A Photoelastic Stress Analysis of LDPE6. One of the physics project teams: Investigating the Effects of Shape, Area, and Mass on the Drag CoefficientOver the course of five weeks, teams conducted original research on a variety of topics in STEM and wrote papers that went into the 2019 Journal of the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences. Other team projects not pictured above include:
Biopreservation: Antimicrobial Properties of Honey and Essential Oils Against E. coli c600What Got You Hooked? Determination of Addictive Components of Common Consumer ProductsModeling Superbug Development: A Computational Exploration of Antibiotic ResistanceChaos: An Exploration of the Duffing Oscillator
Lab courses were focused on the areas of chemistry, biology, physics, and computer science.

“PGSS was a springboard for future ambitious pursuits in STEM and a safe place for meeting incredible people” -Victor Li
“I have made the most amazing friends, life-long connections, and learned to live on my own. I learned how important it is to ask questions, how easy it is to love science, and how hard the field actually is. Without this amazing program, I would still be the red-headed girl too afraid to ask for help and the girl to get anxious in social situations. PGSS has shaped me truly, as I can say that I walked in not expecting much, and walked out with tears streaming down my face because I did not want to leave the amazing people I met.”- Jessica Lvov

PGSS Closing Ceremony

The closing ceremony marked the end of the five weeks, featuring student speakers Maya Parekh and Kavish Senthilkumar.

“PGSS was transformative; not only was I able to access resources and knowledge to a degree I never had before, but I met individuals that shared my passions and redefined stereotypes about scientifically minded students like me. Within the first day, I felt like I’d known my fellow Govies for a lifetime. I found a family through PGSS, and I’d do it all over in a heartbeat.” – Giri Viswanathan
“PGSS was definitely the best summer of my high school, if not my life. Beyond the lectures, the labs at Mellon Institute, and the late-night/early-morning homework sessions, it was absolutely incredible to be able to make so many friends who were interested in the same things I was. I know that PGSS is an experience I will always look back on fondly, and the friends I’ve made there will always be close to me.” – Eugene Seong

To PGSS and the Class of 2019:

We started as strangers in a 56 person game of Duck Duck Goose and came out with one (1) broken foot and many (many) laughs, friendships, and memories. Thank you for being one of the best educational experiences in our lives. Thank you to the TAs, RLDs, and teachers for this amazing experience. Thank you for the opportunities, life lessons with Kevin, and the incredibly long list of quotes from Prof. Collins. From the playlist at the beginning to PGSS Boys at the talent show to American Pie in the lounge and all the raps at the end, PGSS 2019 was truly a special time.
“It doesn’t have to be physics, but it should be worthwhile and noble”- Hael Collins