Physics graduate student receives prestigious P.E.O. Scholar Award

Allyson Gibson, a doctoral student in physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has received a prestigious P.E.O. Scholar Award for the 2008-09 academic year. She was one of 85 recipients selected from more than 640 applicants from the United States and Canada.

The $15,000 merit-based award is given to women who are either pursuing a doctoral-level degree or engaged in postgraduate study or research who show potential to make significant contributions to their fields of study.


Since receiving her master’s degree in physics from WUSTL in May 2005, Gibson has been working toward her doctorate in physics in the department’s Laboratory for Ultrasonics under James G. Miller, Ph.D., the Albert Gordon Hill Professor of Physics, and Mark R. Holland, Ph.D., research associate professor of physics.

The laboratory, under Miller’s direction, studies the physics of ultrasound in materials such as heart and bone. Gibson’s research has focused on quantitative cardiovascular tissue characterization on fetal hearts and the hearts of type 2 diabetics.

Through her physics doctoral research, she also has collaborated with several School of Medicine physicians and spent four months at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration working with other distinguished scientists. Gibson, who is a graduate research assistant and graduate teaching assistant in physics, plans to continue doing ultrasound research after graduation.

A 2003 summa cum laude graduate of Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., and Rhodes Scholar semi-finalist, Gibson is the recipient of numerous other awards and scholarships, including the Department of Physics’ 2008 Shull Prize for Outstanding Teaching Assistant, the 2003 Virgil I. Grissom Astronaut Fellowship and selection to the 2001 USA Today All-Academic Team.

Her numerous volunteer activities include working with Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels and abused women and children.

P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization), one of the pioneer societies for women, was founded in 1869 by seven students at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

Now based in Des Moines, P.E.O. has grown to almost a quarter of a million members in chapters in the United States and Canada. Its mission is to promote educational opportunities for women.