PGSS 2022

5 Words to Describe the Program Before:

Overwhelming, Exciting, Challenging, Fun, Independence

Hannah G.

Exciting but simultaneously somewhat daunting

Daniel W.

Exciting, Intimidating, Stressful, Confusing, Awkward

Alena H.

Too many names to remember

Mason M.

Challenging, Tiring, Unexpected, Frustrating, Stimulating

Miranda L.

Who We Are

After two years of being virtual, PGSS 2022 is back in person with 72 Pennsylvanians! This year was a wild ride filled with boost formulas, pigeonholes, and endless smiles made from unforgettable memories. We were a group of high school juniors who went from feeling imposter syndrome when learning special relativiy to laughing with each other as we watched our peers showcase their skills (or lack thereof) during the No Talent, Talent Show. We all came together to make the most of the 5 weeks that were filled with amazing experiences, even if it meant staying up past midnight to finish homework assignments. By the end of the program, we became stronger together and grew as individuals. 5 weeks may seem long in the beginning but in hindsight, it can pass in a blink of an eye. The relationships, lessons, memories, and experiences we gained from this program will be remembered by everyone.

It was the sense of community and how far we were pushed. It showed us that we are capable and can do it if we work together and put in the work. I’ve learned that teamwork can be very beautiful, and I will miss it. I learned it’s okay when you can’t do something by yourself the first time, and that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it or can’t figure something out. I’ve never experienced anything like PGSS before, and I won’t ever forget the people I’ve met here or the memories I’ve formed. Because, as strange as this may sound, there’s a sort of magic that exists here, and I’m not sure any other place would ever be able to match it. We’re all here, and we all went through similar things, and we’ve come out better for it at the end. ” – Olivia K.

What classes did this year’s govies take?

  • Biology of Cancer and Stem Cells
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Computer Science & Cyber Security
  • Concepts of Moden Physics
  • Discrete Mathematics

Elective Courses


Favorite Electives

  • You and Your Microbiota
  • Biology: Brain on the Fritz
  • Mathematical Finance
  • Laser Technology
  • Foundations of Music: Science and Mathematics
  • How and Why to go Beyond the Discovery of the Higgs Boson
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

“Brain on the fritz for sure. Dr. McGuier teaches in such an interesting way about the brain.” – Daniel W.

“I loved all my elective courses. The Higgs Boson elective was probably the coolest though.” – Lindsay M.

“Pharmaceutical Sciences 100000%.” – Amanda Q.

Favorite Lab Experiment/Memory:

“Dry ice graham crackers and ice cream.” – Sammi B.

“I loved all of them, but particularly like micro pipetting in the Bio lab and team project as well as getting to do gel electrophoresis.” – Olivia K.

“The cops interrupting class several times thinking one of the computers was stolen (it was not).” – Mason M.

“The distillation with Dr. Roy.” – Miranda L.

Team Projects Included:

  • Modeling Effects of SPF on Ultraviolet Radiation Inducing DNA Damage Using Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Host-Microbiota Interactions in C. elegans Disease Model
  • Who’s That Bacteria? A Pipeline for Computational Analysis of DNA Fingerprints
  • Identifying Lactic Acid Bacteria Through Comparison of 16S Genetic Sequence
  • HPLC Analysis of Active Ingredient Mass in Expired and Unexpired OTC Analgesics
  • Reversing Reversi: Using Recursion and Minimax Algorithms to Master Turn-Based Game Strategy
  • Artificial Intelligence Architecture for Turn-Based Strategy Games: Nine Men Morris
  • Applying Stochastic Processes to Decision Making
  • Raman Spectroscopy: The Use of Inelastic Light Scattering to Compare Models in Classical Physics to Quantum Mechanics
  • Determining Particle Diameter with Elastic Light Scattering and Lasers
  • Optical Tweezers
  • The Behavior of Magnetic Moments at Low Temperature
  • Behind the Beauty of the Carnia Nebula: Star Formation, Ionization Fronts, and Interstellar Reddening

Favorite Places on Campus:

  • Gates (Computer Science Building)
  • Hamerschlag House
  • The Underground
  • Outside Areas (Picnic Tables and Tennis Courts)

Favorite Social Events/Weekend Activities:

  • Casino Night
  • Painting Night
  • Origami Night
  • Talent Show
  • Playing Sardines
  • Capture the Flag

“Definitely exploring Pittsburgh with my friends. We’d cycle between Squirrel Hill, Oakland, and Shady Side.” Amanda Q.

“Spending the Fourth of July at the top of the hill or going to see movies at the Manor Theatre.” – Emma R.

Words for Future Govies:

“When impostor syndrome and work seem to drown you, remember that you’re one of the few for a reason. This program teaches you so much, not only in an educational, science-based manner, but it also teaches you things you can’t get within a normal learning environment, such as gratitude, teamwork, understanding of yourself and others, and maybe even things like how to live with no A/C for 5 weeks or how to run a meme page.” – Alena H.

“Make sure to have a reliable, mighty fan for your dorm. You’ll thank yourself later.” – Elaine G.

 “Be patient. PGSS is definitely a whirlwind, and problem sets move quickly. If you don’t immediately understand something, you aren’t behind, or undeserving of your spot at PGSS. On the other hand, if you do understand things, be cognizant and compassionate towards your peers. For some students, this is the first time they have faced an academic challenge of this caliber. Lean on others for support, and always provide it in return. The best nights were spent late at night in my friends’ rooms, talking about things not even related to physics or chemistry.” – Lindsay M.

 “Don’t compare yourself to others; everyone comes from a different background, but you are all qualified to be at PGSS in your own special way. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to other people, including the TAs. Everyone wants to help each other and you might meet some really cool people in the process.” – Abigail B.

“Don’t be afraid to talk to and meet new people. First impressions are almost always inaccurate.” – Nikola C.

Memories & Quotes From the Program:

“Some of my fondest memories from PGSS derive from the last few weeks of the program when groups started to really work on their final projects. The excitement, commotion, and raw energy led for thoughtful scientific discussion, as well as great bonding. While the last few weeks (not to say the first few aren’t) may be stressful, trust me when I say everything works out.” – Abhinav P.

“My fondest memory was when it was past curfew I, along with others, still had to write the bio lab report. My roommate and I invite the govies in our dorm (since we can’t use the common area) and we work on our bio lab report until 2 am in the morning.” – Xi L.

“I remember that during team project week the bio UV team spent all night, the day before our paper was due, finishing our paper. We had to facetime each other since it was passed curfew and the girls worked on the paper on the stairwells.” – Amy W.

“When we walked all the way to 7-11 for free slushy day and the machine was broken.” – Hannah G.

“I was part of a DND group, and in our first dungeon, we came upon a rat. With Dark Souls music playing we began fighting it, but it wasn’t taking any damage. On my turn, I was ominously told to roll the dice, and I got a Nat20. That’s a perfect roll, it must be good right? No, it wasn’t, and the music seemed to know too as it got suddenly more dramatic. The rat was in fact a wererat, and we had no way of fighting it as Level 1s. Cue frantic dice rolling to escape as our DM laughed manically. 10/10 would do again.” Mason M.

“Life is a difficult series of moments through which we earn our next. For every challenging problem set comes an unforgettable evening with amazing friends or an afternoon touring a super fancy lab. Perseverance and discipline will get you through the rigorous work and reward you with a world of new knowledge.” – Grace K.

“PGSS is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn, bond, and grow alongside talented peers from across the state in a warm, welcoming environment.” – Neel P.

“It’s intimidating at first, but you quickly become a part of the community.” – Daniel Z.

“No matter what, the program will change you, so might as well embrace it.” – Nikola C.

“Until you dare to take on new challenges, you won’t discover your full potential.” -Bernard Kelvin Clive (Abigail B.)

“Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself at PGSS. Whether it be trying a new course, discussing a new topic, or simply talking to a new friend, PGSS is an experience that will teach and guide you. Never stop trying.” – Abhinav P. 

5 Words to Describe the Program After:

Fulfilling, Rewarding, Impactful, Challenging, Memorable
Xi L.
Too Short, Fun, Unforgettable, Incredible
Daniel Z.
Enriching, Fantastic, Best July Ever!
Emma R.

Enriching, Motivating, (still) Supportive, Rewarding, Incredible

Grace K.
If only time dilation worked
Jai R.

In Acknowledgments:

We would like to thank the following people and corporations who made PGSS 2022 possible.

  • PGSS Campaign, Inc.
  • PGSS Corporate Sponsors
  • PGSS Education Partners
  • Pennsylvania Dept. of Education and Legislative Partners
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Mellon College of Science
  • Dr. Luokkala & Ms. Lessure
  • Professors & Lab Assistants

In addition, we would like to thank our teaching assistants/counselors, as they guided us through this entire program.