Pandemics epidemiology: Societal impacts and strategic response | Pioneer

Pioneer Open Summer Study – POSS

Independent Study Details

Pandemics epidemiology: Societal impacts and strategic response

In a world ever more connected, and inhabited by an increasing human population, the number of infectious disease outbreaks is rising. Understanding the epidemiology of viruses, bacteria, and parasites is crucial for the design of strategies to interrupt transmission. This course will provide an overview on models to study infectious disease dynamics, the impact on society, and the response of society to pandemic.


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:

  • POSS students do not undergo the Pioneer Research Program’s rigorous admissions process.
  • Student POSS projects will NOT be considered as Pioneer Research Program’s work because they are not scrutinized through Pioneer’s academic procedures and standards. Pioneer thus can NOT provide records endorsing the work’s authenticity and quality for POSS participants in their college applications.
  • Students with POSS experience will not receive a grade or certificate from Pioneer, regardless of what personal opinion the professor holds about the study projects.
  •  POSS is NOT college credit bearing as the Pioneer Research Program is.

About the Study


This course will require critical thinking, the development of scientific research skills, as well as developing oral and written communication skills. Students will examine data sets about infectious disease and draw conclusions from the data. It will require students to work in teams to create a final presentation about their selected topic.

About Professor David Veselik:

  • Dockweiler Award for Undergraduate Advising  2017
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame 2013-Present
  • Academic Co-Director, Summer Scholars Program, Life Science, University of Notre Dame 2011-Present
  • Associate Teaching Professor, University of Notre Dame 2016-Present
  • Assistant Teaching Professor, University of Notre Dame 2009-2016
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Notre Dame 2007-2009
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Notre Dame 2006-2007
  • Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Georgetown University 2006
Time: 9:30am~10:45am EDT
Dates: July 3; July 10
Time: 10:00am~11:15am EDT
Dates: July 17; July 24; July 31
Recording posted date: each Tuesday after the weekend class


Weeks 1-4: reading and discussion of the data; identifying a collaborative research topic for your team; developing research skills, all to culminate in a final presentation.
Week 5: 10-minute presentations by each of the five teams, with time for questions from the other teams.

The final presentation will require for the students to work in teams to:

  • Learn how to identify and use open access public information from the best sources
  • Interpret the scientific data
  • Create a clear and concise presentation of their main points and conclusions


To be eligible to participate in Pioneer Open Summer Study, the following requirements must be met:

  • Teams must have a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 10 students.
  • Participating students should be in grades 9 through 12.  For Scheduled Participation teams, at least two team members and the Captain of the team must be in 10th or 11th grade.
  • The Captain needs to get a teacher to sign as the observer. In some cases, Pioneer may offer additional support from alumni of the research program, and in such cases, Pioneer may have to prioritize the Pioneer alumni support to 10th and 11th grade teams if the demand for support exceeds support resources.
  • Each team must have one team member serve as the team Captain. The Captain’s responsibility is to ensure team formation, team attendance, timely completion of the work, communication with high school faculty observer, and all other coordination.
  • Each team is required to get its school guidance counselor or school faculty to sign a written consent to check in for at least three updates on a study group.
  • Scheduled Participation teams have to be committed to attending a set schedule of the online classes. The detailed schedules will be released in June. The time commitment requirement may work best for students with flexibility in the summer.
  • If any member of a Scheduled Participation team is late for or misses up to two Scheduled Participation classes, or if a Scheduled Participation team as a whole misses one Scheduled class, the team then loses its Scheduled Participation eligibility.
  • All teams need to behave and communicate academically and appropriately. Inappropriate language or communication will lead to termination of participation.
  • Because Pioneer is offering this program at no cost, Pioneer does not guarantee any result or outcome from participation or any service or support. Pioneer is not responsible for conflict, failure or anxiety among the study teams related to POSS.
  • During the self-directed independent study stage, Pioneer Research Program alumni, who have previously done research in similar fields of study with the Pioneer Research Program, may hold online office hours to help students answer questions. Team Captains or designated members are required attend any online office hours meeting that they schedule.
  • Each Scheduled Participation team will most likely be required to give a final presentation and the recording of the presentation will be uploaded on POSS-designated web space. Team members may be able to include the link to the presentation in their college applications.
  • Each Self-Paced team is required to upload a final presentation recording on the POSS designated web space. POSS participants may be able to choose to add the link to their college application. POSS presenters are encouraged to invite Pioneer Research alumni, school friends or school teachers and counselors to attend the presentation.