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Pioneer Open Summer Study – POSS

The completely free & exciting online research alternative

Celebrating 171 teams’ discoveries and successes

Letter from the Director

Because of the novel coronavirus, we are facing a time of unprecedented challenge. Life in so many ways has come to a near halt. Students nearing college, however, can’t stop working towards their academic goals, and educators must guide them in spite of the hardships and difficulties the virus has imposed.

Pioneer therefore put together a new program — the Pioneer Open Summer Study (POSS) — for every student who is interested and committed. Pioneer’s academic panel took on this additional initiative as a priority. The academic panel put together the resources, picked relevant topics and designed the curriculum framework to meet the unique and pressing needs and interests of students during the pandemic. We will launch four exciting study themes that Pioneer faculty will host through recorded workshops and which students can take on as independent summer projects.

The Online Research Alternative For Very Curious Minds

Pioneer’s Open Summer Study (POSS) was a dynamic alternative to Pioneer’s online research program and/or an interesting supplement to other summer programs. It was offered at no cost to students. It was designed to empower student project aspirations or intellectual enrichment needs during the challenging summer of 2020.

Pioneer’s academic panel took on this additional initiative as a priority. The academic panel put together the resources, picked relevant topics and designed the curriculum framework to meet the unique and pressing needs and interests of students during the pandemic.

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Congratulations to the 1078 POSS participants for concluding the open study sessions this summer!

Your effort is the highlight of your summer and your discoveries through POSS will drive your academic curiosity with confidence.


Please read the following important notice about POSS.

Pioneer Open Summer Study (POSS) is completely independent from the Pioneer Research Program. Students who participate in POSS CANNOT list POSS as a Pioneer Research Program credit in their college applications for the following reasons:

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The POSS Community

POSS attracted a special community of learners from four continents. Professors, students, Pioneer alumni and Pioneer staff members all valued this opportunity and were completely dedicated to the success of this initiative.  We are excited to introduce you to just a few of the volunteers whose commitment to POSS was evident throughout the summer.

Voices of POSS Participants

“In this summer vacation, I was honored to participate in POSS and became a team leader. As a self-paced team captain, in addition to learning more about the pandemic and economy, the most important thing for me to explore is the leadership. Arranging the plan, monitoring the process, all of these are far more difficult than I thought. For some reasons, we have gone through some staff changes since the team was formed. Fortunately, we changed and completed our seminar in time. Thanks to this project and all of my teammates! I learnt that the potential of humans is limitless.”
CRGRC Yuxin Li (Cindy)

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“I have acquired many skills on my POSS journey that I am very excited to use in the future. My professor has taught me how to find answers to questions that I never thought of before and how to research events from centuries ago. I have also learned how to relate sources from years ago to current world events. POSS has taught me teamwork skills and communication, which is crucial in all aspects of success. As team captain, I can say that my team has utilized these skills many times throughout our journey. We discuss lectures together and help answer each other’s questions.

My team and I are proud to say that we have chosen to focus our research on what people understood about the plague during the time period of the Black Plague.”

–Captain Kiran Ahmad, Lab Rats

Voices of POSS Independent Study Advisor


“Being an ISA for the POSS program is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Organizing office hours for students gave me the chance to host discussions and discover new perspectives. The thought provoking conversations I engaged in during my role as an ISA- about new socio-economic policy, thinking like an economist, and analyzing political changes- helped me realize the potential that we, as future changemakers, have and the responsibility we share towards our environment.

I am so glad I spent this summer celebrating curiosity and intellect and working with such talented and driven students.”

Gayatri Sharma
Country: India
Pioneer alumni who will begin her first year at Barnard College this fall

Voices of POSS Professors


“Given the ennui most young people are currently experiencing as a result of being locked in their apartments, Pioneer adopted a rather startling initiative.  It offered to secondary students courses on a range of subjects that would be taught by college and university professors in coordination with their secondary school teachers.  Despite the value of this education, for these students there was no charge whatsoever.

 In the process of teaching my section I encountered highly motivated, bright, young people who were capable of dealing with both abstract and concrete materials of considerable difficulty.  As a result, I am quite optimistic about their futures.”

Douglas Raybeck
Professor of Anthropology Emeritus
Hamilton College

“The POSS program has been a terrific and rewarding opportunity to work with teams of high school students who have voluntarily devoted part of this COVID-19 summer to studying the age of plague and the lessons it can offer us as we live through a global pandemic.  When students engage in collaborative research on a topic of their own choice, not for a grade or to fulfill a requirement, they are truly understanding the value of learning as a lifelong endeavor.  I have been inspired by their passion and dedication.”

Professor Paula Findlen

“I told them from day one, I wanted this to be an active, engaged discussion about these topics,” Veselik says. “As you know, the models and the impacts are changing by the week, by the day. So just to have that kind of discussion and see the type of work the students are doing has been really impressive.”

Professor David Veselik

POSS Results & Accomplishments

It is an honor to have a collection of work from POSS participants. This is an open outlet for POSS teams who opted to present and share their work with the community. These authentic reports and presentations were completed by the teams individually and independently. This page is shared only with the community of registered POSS teams so it is password protected.

I have a password and would like to proceed to the collection page

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