Fall 2019 Newsletter

Message from the CEO

“Bridging graduate-level research expertise and Pittsburgh’s emerging startup sectors”

This tagline was coined by the prior year’s executive board to succinctly summarize 4RS’ mission and vision.  In many ways, 4RS’ 5th year was marked by new initiatives designed to achieve this goal more completely.  From increasing member engagement, improving data utilization, and developing new business partnerships, 4RS’ impact and sustainability have increased notably due to the efforts of the board to enact our goals. We remain committed to making participation in 4RS a highlight of your graduate or postdoctoral studies.

With our partnership with the Pittsburgh Life Science Greenhouse (PLSG) continuing to flourish, we have been able to engage with more organizations that could serve as key resources and partners in support of our future growth.  Some of the details for these agreements have yet to be finalized, but I look forward to sharing more information with you in the upcoming months!  As many of you know, a major undertaking for 4RS over the past year was to reinstate the Pittsburgh Innovation Case Competition in collaboration with the Carnegie Mellon Graduate Consulting Club (CMGCC).  I would be hard-pressed to find another initiative that so perfectly embodied the tag-line set out by the board a year ago.  Because of many individuals’ hard work, we have attained the highest funding levels ever for the competition, recruited teams to participate from as far as NYC, and engaged with numerous local and national organizations to bring top-notch networking for the selected participants.  I am eager to see the fruits of the planning committee’s labor come to fruition on October 26th!  Thank you to everyone who helped make this competition happen!

As was true last year, the current board has ambitious targets for growth and investment in the upcoming year that we hope will bring more high-impact projects, exciting professional development events with noteworthy speakers, and expansion of both members’ and the organization’s professional network. 

The board will be hosting a Town Hall gathering October 17th in BST South 123 from 5:30 to 7pm.  Please come to share your thoughts on 4RS’ future directions and ask the board any questions you have.  We have hired a professional photographer to take headshots for all interested members.  We will also be taking sign-ups for newly designed 4RS-branded merchandise – be sure you don’t miss out!

I am incredibly grateful for your continued dedication to 4RS’ mission.  Your time and participation makes 4RS truly unique.  I am honored to serve you all in this position and hope that 4RS membership enables you achieve your professional and entrepreneurial goals.


Christopher Chuckran

Chief Executive Officer

New Board Members

We would like to thank the outgoing board members for their contributions to 4RS this past year.  Two of these members, Rebecca Gerth (CFO) and Emily Russell (COO) have successfully defended their Ph.D. dissertations and have moved on to the next step of their careers.  Jillian Weeks (CPDO), Sherin David (CMO), and Dylan Royston (VP, Business Development) are also stepping down and we would like to thank them all for their commitment to improving the 4RS organization.  Incoming board members are Kyle Sylakowski (CFO), Amanda Henton (COO), Sarah Najjar (CPDO), and Darius Becker-Krail (CMO).  Additionally, the board identified a need for a new position of Chief Information Officer (CIO), and this role has been filled by Muying Wang.  We are pleased to welcome these enthusiastic new board members!

Thank You 2019 PMs and Teams

Since November 2018, 4RS completed 6 projects - including 4 engagements with the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse and 1 internal engagement. We would like to thank William Tennant, Sam Herron, Yevgenia Monisova, Liza Bruk, Alp Asan, and Azia Evans for serving as project managers and committing their valuable experience, time, and leadership. We also thank all the consultants who were staffed on these projects for providing their time and insight, and enabling 4RS to continue providing innovative solutions to our clients.

We had 2 recruitment cycles this year through which we recruited 52 members to the organization. We thank members of the board, especially Ethan Bassin and Sam Herron, for developing training materials including case studies and presentation guidelines that serve to orient incoming members to the thought process and work culture during bootcamp. We would also like to thank Nikki Naim, Muying Wang, Taylor Courtney, Brittany Durgin, Kyle Sylakowski, Emily Russell, Chris Chuckran, Amanda Henton, and Sam Herron for serving as project managers during bootcamp.

Welcome to our New Members

We’d like to formally welcome all our members that joined the organization over the Spring and Summer 2019 recruitment cycles! A big thank you to new members Manish  Aryal, Ashlee Greene, Mark Murdock, Manoj Chelvanambi, Samuel Duvall, Megan Cala, Adolfo Frias, Azia Evans (consultant and project manager), Muying Wang (consultant, project manager, and CIO), Angela Hinchie, Lisa Beppu, and Allison Eckmann for already having served on engagements since joining the organization this earlier year. We appreciate your commitment!

Member Achievements

We congratulate 4RS members for completing their Ph.D. training and obtaining employment at several prestigious organizations.  Former CFO Rebecca Gerth began her role as Research Sales Engineer at Ripple LLC.  Former CEO Chelsea Merkel began a position as Associate Consultant for Highmark.  Former CPDO Jingming Chen is starting as a Consultant in the Life Sciences division at Deloitte.  Business Development Associate Adam Chin will work as a Regulatory Consultant and Reviewer at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).  

Client Spotlight

This past Summer, 4RS completed an exciting 6-week project with Impact Proteomics – a Carnegie Mellon based startup with an innovative high-yield protein sample preparation technology for proteomics applications. Through conducting extensive market research and comprehensive competitive analyses, our team provided recommendations to assist Impact Proteomics in navigating the next stages of bringing their sample preparation kit to market. Most notably, our work helped identify key strengths that set Impact Proteomics apart from competition and recognize new attainable markets for future endeavors. We wish Impact Proteomics the best of luck moving forward!

Professional Development

4RS hosted an impressive amount of professional development events this year.  Speakers from an array of industry careers gave seminars on the following topics: boutique consulting, entrepreneurship, medical writing, capital fundraising in biotech, and experiences as an early-stage startup.  There was also an educational seminar about consulting careers in general, as well as a McKinsey information session.  We hosted workshops to develop professional skills like networking and writing a resume/cover letter.  Finally, a 4RS alum offered a 4-part seminar series about project management, including an introduction to project management careers and steps to getting a PMP certification. 

Thank you to Jillian Weeks for her hard work in organizing these events!

Pittsburgh Innovation Case Competition 2019 Highlight

We at 4RS would like to take a moment to highlight the immensely successful completion of PICC 2019 on Saturday, October 26th. Twelve teams of non-MBA graduate and professional students competed in a case competition for a grand prize of $4000 - judged by an amazing team of professionals from McKinsey, Deloitte, BCG, BNY Mellon, UPMC, and Highmark Health! While the grand prize was ultimately awarded to team "Inspector Graduates" based out of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), we are incredibly proud of the 2nd place win by Team "Pentalution" - a team of four 4RS consultants (Manish Aryal, Sam Herron, Angela Hinchie, and Nicole Martucci) and 1 CMU student (Aya Nour)! Taking home a prize of $2000, Team Pentalution was praised for the detail of their analysis, ingenuity, and communication of their pitch - all skills acquired through their 4RS training and masterfully executed in competition. We couldn't be more impressed by Team Pentalution's performance and we hope you'll join us in congratulating them!

For a more in depth overview of the event, be on the lookout for an official newsletter follow-up from the PICC 2019 committee!

Social Spotlight

In addition to the exciting work we do through 4RS, we also get to have a lot of fun and meet great people! This August we enjoyed the last of Pittsburgh’s beautiful summer weather with a get-together at Hofbräuhaus – so much fun! Thank you to all who came out to make that social event a success. If you didn’t have the opportunity to join us, we hope to see you at our next event!