Einstein Community Celebrates Pi Day

March 19, 2024—(BRONX, NY)—The Albert Einstein College of Medicine community celebrated Pi Day and commemorated what would have been Albert Einstein’s 145th birthday on March 14, with a pi recitation competition and pie bake-off. Those on- and off-campus showed their support for the College of Medicine by participating in online challenges and activities, as well as taking part in Einstein’s Giving Day.

The day’s activities were kicked off by Yaron Tomer, M.D., the Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean at Einstein and chief academic officer at Montefiore Medicine.

“Pi Day is our annual day of celebration—a chance for our entire community to recognize and support all that is special about Albert Einstein College of Medicine,” said Dr. Tomer.

I’m Just Here for the Pi(e)

Harris Goldstein, M.D., senior associate dean for scientific resources, acted as emcee for the pi recitation contest, which drew 6 competitors, each of whom received warm applause from the nearly 300 spectators.

Last year’s winner, Mary Lou De Jesus, a member of the Community Health Worker Institute at Montefiore, returned to defend her crown. In 2023, Ms. De Jesus set a school record by going to 900 digits. This year, she wowed the crowd in Lubin Dining Hall with her recitation of pi to a remarkable 1,075 digits, winning the numerically appropriate prize of $314. “Mary Lou is the Joey Chestnut of the Pi Recitation Contest,” quipped Dr. Goldstein.

Second place was secured by Jenny Quiridumbay, a research technician in the Flow Cytrometry Core, who reached 124 places, and third place went to Noel Relucio, systems manager in the department of epidemiology & population health, who called out pi to the 60th place.

Later in the afternoon, Einstein held the annual pie bake-off. The judges deliberated after tasting the 14 entries, and deemed “Banoffe,” a combination banana, caramel, biscuit cookie, and whipped cream creation baked by first-year medical students and roommates Sofia Cataliotti and Isabelle Ilan, the winner.

“We threw it together last night,” said Ms. Cataliotti. “Our caramel layer got messed up, we burned two recipes, and then we improvised.”

“We had zero thought it would be us—we never made a pie together but we love to bake,” added Ms. Ilan. “This is a fun recognition and all the pies we tried by the other contestants were outstanding.”

Pie Bake-off winners Isabelle Ilan and Sofia Cataliotti
Pie Bake-off winners Isabelle Ilan and Sofia Cataliotti

Einstein Giving Day

Pi Day is also Einstein’s Giving Day. This year was the College of Medicine’s most successful, with 341 individual contributions resulting in more than $124,000 raised. Thanks to a matching gift challenge, Einstein Trustee Buzzy Geduld contributed an additional $100,000. Furthermore, alumni Sten H. Vermund, M.D. ‘77, Ph.D., and Pilar Vargas, M.D. ‘77, Ph.D., gave $100 for every gift made, resulting in $34,100 additional funds. The grand total raised—more than $258,000—will go to a range of Einstein funds, including Einstein’s clinical research and training program, Medical Scientist Training Program (which confers combined M.D./Ph.D. degrees), and other support for medical and graduate students.

In the spirit of gratitude for those who support Einstein, students, faculty, staff, and postdocs wrote thank-you notes to Einstein Board Chair Ruth Gottesman for her recent transformative donation, which will cover medical students’ tuition and fees in perpetuity.

Thank you for believing in us

“There is always a need for philanthropy to help us achieve our mission and support the programs, learning opportunities, and research that make Einstein an exceptional medical school and renowned research institution,” said Dr. Tomer, who thanked Einstein’s donors and said their generosity is “a testament to the special nature of Einstein.”

He added: “These gifts will help improve every area of campus—from purchasing new equipment and supporting our cutting-edge research programs, to sponsoring student activities and clubs and supporting student needs, such as travel stipends and emergency funds. Together, we are making an already exceptional school even stronger.”