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Community Outreach

TSRC scientists volunteer - Pinhead Scholars in the Schools 

Throughout the school year, TSRC scientists volunteer for Pinhead Institute's Scholars in the Schools program to lead labs, experiments, and workshops for K-12 students. This Pinhead program enables roughly 5,000 students from rural communities throughout the region to work closely with international PhD scientists. 

Ron Estler, TSRC Science Advisory Board Chair, Colorado Professor of the Year 2009 awardee, and Professor of Chemistry at Fort Lewis College in Durango,  deserves recognition for his oustanding contributions to Pinhead Institute's Scholars in the Schools Program for grades K-12 and Punk Science annually since 2010.

Joan-Emma Shea, University of California, Santa Barbara Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Professor  of Physics, participated in Pinhead Institute Scholars in the Schools program in December 2012. She taught students about proteins and the important role they play our bodies and in disease.

Rigoberto Hernandez of Georgia Institute of Technology engaged Telluride and Ouray high school students in discussions surrounding chemistry and physics in October 2012. From gas laws to diffusion to phase transitions and chemical reactions, Dr. Hernandez brought some of the most complicated chemistry to an understandable and relevant level, relating these sophisticated concepts to students' lives. 

John Straub, Professor of Chemistry at Boston University and Past-President of TSRC, has led the rocking Telluride Academy/Pinhead summer camp "Blast Off!" since 2011, as well as the Pinhead Punk Science rocket demonstrations annually since 2007. In February 2011, he gave his famed, "A Lively Tour of the Periodic Table," with explosions, demonstrations, and a music video to 700 K-12 students from Telluride, Naturita, Norwood, Ouray, and Ridgway School. Straub reached all 1800 regional students in five school districts, in five different "Lively Tour" presentations in the fall of 2005 and winter of 2006, and was called back in 2009 by popular demand. 

Susan DeSensi, Boston University, presented “The Secret Life of Glue: Bouncy Balls & Goober Goo” with fun demonstrations and interactive experiments, to 160 students 1st through 7th grades at Nucla and Telluride schools in March of 2009 and multiple Punk Science demonstrations. Susan was brought to Telluride by John Straub.

Joseph Francisco, Professor of Chemistry at Purdue University and Past-President of ACS participated in the Pinhead Scholars in the Schools program in Spring 2013 and May 2008. He gave talks on the chemistry of the atmosphere and impact of pollutants on climate change. Francisco’s clear-thinking lecture style allowed students to understand climate change at a deeper level.

David Coker, Boston University Chemisty Professor, presented a demonstration of "The Science of Steam" at the Telluride Mountain School to all first grade through eleventh grade students. This was the first all school assembly presesnted by Pinhead Institute at the Mountain School and it was tremendously well received. Coker's sense of humor and drama caught the attention of the teachers as well as students. 

Scott Tenenbaum, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics, University at Albany-SUNY, visited four regional school districts and presented two lectures, “Demystifying Genetics” and “Eugenics” in the winter of 2007. Tenenbaum’s honest and frank discussions caught the attention of even the most recalcitrant teenagers.

Kieron Burke, University of California, Irvine, Professor of Heretical Physics and Chemistry, presented quantum mechanics to the regional middle/high school students freshingly using a blackboard, tennis balls, and a cardboard box, rather than powerpoint. And as is usual with this subject matter, some students went away with their heads hurting from the mind blowing ideas, while others clambered to learn more. He also spoke with students in classroom settings, and presented chaos theory games to 7th graders.

TSRC scientists volunteer - PINHEAD PUNK SCIENCE

Pinhead Institute's Punk Science Program exposes about 800 summer attendees to the wonders of science in dynamic presentations led by PhD scientists. Many of the scientists in the program are volunteer TSRC scientists. To learn more, please visit

Summer 2014

  • Cool Under Pressure Dr. Ron Estler, "Under Pressure: Fun with Air and No Air"
  • Rocking Doctor Dr. John Cuppoleti, "Miraculous Membranes "

Summer 2013

  • Big League Burner Dr. Ron Estler, "Radical Reactions with Combusting Chemicals"
  • Projectile Professional Dr. John Straub, "Rip Roaring Radical Rockets"
  • Colorful Chemist, Dr. Lisa Christadore, "Energetic Electrons and Magical Metals"

Summer 2012

  • Big Shot Scientist Dr. John Straub, "The Soaring Science of Rip Roaring Rockets"
  • Cool Chemist Dr. Ron Estler, "Marvelous Molecules of Wacky Water"
  • Sticky Scientist Dr. Susan DeSensi, "Silly Slime and Polymers at their Prime"

Summer 2011

  • Stupendous Scientist Dr. Susan DeSensi, "Sizzle. . . Bang. . .Boom"
  • Crazy Chemist Dr. Ron Estler, "Under Pressure: Fun with Air and No Air"

Summer 2010

  • Cool Chemist Dr. Lisa Christadore, "Mysterious Molecules & Silly Slime"
  • Fantastic Physicist Dr. Edward Lyman, "Zap! Poof! Zing!: Electricity Understood"
  • Silly Scientist Dr. Neil Donahue, "From Lava to Lift-Off: Get the Lowdown on Liquids"

Summer 2009

  • Dynamite Doctor Dr. Tim McDonald, "Gooey Guts & Outrageous Organs"
  • Super Scientist Dr. David Leitner, "Cool & Crazy Chemistry
  • Hot Shot Dr. John Straub, "Rip, Roaring, Radical Rockets"
  • Cool Chemist Dr. Susan DeSensi, "Mysterious Mixtures and Strange Solutions"
  • Fantastic Physicist Dr. Ed Lyman, "Bubblemania: Bigger, Better Bubbles"

Summer 2008

  • Hot Shot Scientist Dr. John Straub, "Rib Roaring Radical Rockets: The Science of Explosions"
  • Sparkling Scientist Dr. David Coker, "Steam, Smoke & Steel: The Science of Trains"
  • Super Scientist Dr. Tom Cheatham, "Cool Chemistry & Chaotic Combustions: The Science of Spontaneous Solutions"
  • Sticky Scientist Dr. Susan DeSensi, "How to Make Bouncy Balls and Goober Goo: The Secret Life of Glue"
  • Hippity Hoppity Physicist Dr. Ed Lyman, "Super Double Bubble Trouble"

Summer 2007

  • Electric Scientist Dr. Eric Bittner, "The Shocking Pickles: Quantum Mechanics for Punks"
  • Luminary Scientist Dr. Paul Champion, "What is Light?"
  • Big Shot Scientist Dr. John Straub, "Science of Exposions: Firecrackers, Cannons, and Rockets"
  • Rocking Good Scientist Dr. James Martin, "The Sound of Music: Tap Bang & Twang"
  • Genius Scientist Dr. Stephen Berry, "Hot & Cold, Light & Heavy"

TSRC scientists volunteer - Pinhead internship program

Pinhead Institute's Internship Program places rising high school seniors in summer internships with leading scientists nationally and internationally. TSRC scientists serve as mentors to some Pinhead Interns. Learn more at

Joan Emma Shea, University of California, Santa Barbara, hosted Danielle Nguyen, a part-time Telluride local, in her lab for six weeks during the summer of 2014.

Forest Rohwer, San Diego State University, welcomed Telluride High School student, Zachery Nunn, during the summer of 2014

Thomas Douglas, U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, hosted Malcolm Major from The Telluride High School in Fort Wainwright, AK., 2012

Carlos Summerling, Stony Brook University, hosted Evan Tilley from Ridgway High School in 2009 in a Pinhead Institute Internship.  The Simmerling lab at  carries out research in the area of computational structural biology.

Andrew McCammon, Joseph E. Mayer Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at University of California, San Diego, mentored Meghan Cain, Telluride High School, in the summer of 2008 through the Pinhead Internship. She worked on Avian Flu inhibitors.

R. Stephen Berry, University of Chicago distinguished professor of chemistry, McArthur Fellow, and National Academy of Sciences Officer mentored Mesa Hollinbeck of Norwood High School at the University of Chicago, during the summer of 2006 for six weeks through the Pinhead Institute Internship program.

Mark Tuckerman, New York University Professor of Math and Chemistry, mentored Harley Hollenbeck, of Ouray High School in Bochum, Germany at the Ruhr-Universitaet, during the summer of 2006 for six weeks through the Pinhead Internship Program.


Telluride Unearthed is a collaborative effort between Pinhead Institute, a Smithsonian Affiliate, and the Telluride Historical Museum, The program delves into Telluride's history through the lens of science. Please visit for more information. 

David Coker, Boston University Professor of Theoretical Chemistry and TSRC Board Member, participated in this annual lecture series hosted by Pinhead Institute and the Telluride Historical Museum. His talk, "The Science of Steam," was given on November 9, 2007 in the series entitled “A Railroad in the Valley.”

John Straub, President of TSRC (2006-2008) and BU Chemistry Professor, gave a talk on “The Chemistry of Mining” for the Unearthed series in November 2005.