PCOM Helps Connect the Dots with ScienceMarch 14, 2022
PCOM faculty, staff and students participate as judges in the virtual Gwinnett Regional
Science, Engineering and Innovation Fair.
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine was well represented at the recent Gwinnett
Regional Science, Engineering + Innovation Fair – “Connecting the Dots” - as 59 judges
from the Suwanee, Moultrie and Philadelphia campuses judged middle and high school student projects.
“Impressive,” “inspiring,” “well organized” and “uplifting” were some of the adjectives
PCOM’s judges used to describe their experiences with the close to 1,000 students
from 64 local schools who completed more than 450 projects this year.
Soroosh Parsa (DO ’24) said, “I was “absolutely stunned by how smart the middle schoolers
were. For a second, I thought I was in a high school session.”
Meghan Di Rito Wegendt, MLIS, PCOM Georgia’s education and outreach librarian, agreed.
She said, “It’s inspiring to see how enthusiastic the middle school students are about
their projects. I can’t wait for next year!”
Fellow librarian, Barbara Wood, MLIS, associate director of library, education & engagement,
called the event uplifting. “The quality of these projects was fantastic with positive
real-world implications,” she said.
Judges evaluated the projects on scientific quality, accuracy, creativity, engineering
precision and experimental design. Top project categories included chemistry, robotics
and intelligent machines, environmental engineering and biomedical engineering.
Six Years of Support
For the sixth consecutive year, PCOM Georgia supported STEM education in Gwinnett County as the presenting sponsor of the regional science fair. For the
past two years, the fair has taken place virtually using Zoom and a digital platform
created especially for the fair. In addition to in-depth project interviews with judges,
the event included STEM workshops which provided activities and ways for students
to engage with the more than 15 community partners.
PCOM Georgia was well represented at the fair. In addition to PCOM’s judges who donned
red PCOM shirts while judging, the campus Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine scholars, Obianuju Nwamah (DO ’22) and Ferzan Uddin (DO ’23), developed a workshop
to introduce the students to OMM. Also, Andrea Mann, DO, FAAP, dean and chief academic officer of the osteopathic medicine program at PCOM Georgia,
had the opportunity to welcome the students to the online science fair through a pre-recorded
video. She also congratulated the winners at an award ceremony following the event.
PCOM Georgia students recorded congratulatory messages which were included in the
welcome video, while student science fair participants received promotional items
from the college that were delivered to their schools on the day of the fair.
Next Steps for Science Fair Winners
The high school and middle school students who earned top honors at the regional fair
move to the next round – the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair to be held in Athens,
Georgia, beginning March 31. The top six high school projects also automatically qualify
for the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, a hybrid event set for
May 7. At this fair, Gwinnett students compete against students from 77 other countries.
Philip Fabrizio, PT, DPT, EdD, associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, has participated as a judge for several years. He described his experience this
way. “As it has been in the past, the experience was awesome. The students' enthusiasm,
attention to detail, passion, and creativity were outstanding! Needless to say, I
learned a lot!”
Qian Chen, PhD, assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology in the PCOM Department of Bio-Medical Sciences, reported that she judged five interesting biomedical sciences projects conducted
by high school students. Topics included: Can insulin administration without needles
be feasible?; a comparison of various face masks; water purification methods; racial
differences of pregnant women care during the third trimester; and food allergy knowledge
of teenagers who work at restaurants.
Dr. Chen said, “I was so touched by their passion and curiosity in research. Moreover
their fresh eyes and scientific interpretation for their data inspired me to look
for research ideas from daily life and experience!”
Ariana Daftarian (DO ’23) also enjoyed judging the science fair. She said, “I was
particularly impressed with how organized and well thought out the entire process
was in our virtual room – hats off to our well-rehearsed host! She added, “The students
were a joy to interact with. I hope to participate next year as well.”
Assistant to the PCOM Georgia Chief Campus Officer, Colleen Heer, judged projects
ranging from developing algorithms/coding for a prototype drone for wild fire training
to creating a prototype combining a PEP device and incentive spirometer for cystic
fibrosis patients to the creation of a leg prosthesis prototype for a horse with ‘stable
legs’ using 3D modeling.
She reported that being part of a three-judge group allowed the student presenters
to have enough time to interact with the judges, “and there was ample time for each
judge to ask questions and, believe me, we did!”
She said, “Most impressive was that the middle school students were just as good as
the high school students and, in some cases, better prepared. Not only were these
particular students comfortable presenting, they were well prepared as they answered
any questions without hesitation. Their presentations were well-structured with good
grammar, data, images and, in one case, short video clips.”
Heer said she “learned new things,” while having fun. “I highly recommend others try
judging as well next year.”
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About PCOM Georgia
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated
to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia
College of Osteopathic Medicine, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied
history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and
physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, medical laboratory science,
and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM
Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service
to the wider community. For more information, visit pcom.edu/georgia or call 678-225-7500. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center,
an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment.
For more information, visit pcomgeorgiahealth.org.
For more information, contact:
Senior Public Relations Manager
Office: 678-225-7532 | Cell:
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