Ursula Gibson
Ursula Gibson
Associate Professor, Dartmouth College
NH

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  • Describe what you do in your current work situation.
    I teach classes, guide master's students and help PhD students with their degrees. I also do some lab work involving new fibers that combine glass and silicon.
  • Why did you choose engineering?
    I love the fact that what I do has connections to the real world and that there can be useful applications of what I learn.
  • Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
    I did my undergraduate work at Dartmouth (AB, physics) and graduate work at Cornell (PhD, experimental physics)
  • What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
    In the lab, optical analysis of materials made various ways, and of course writing up the results and presenting them at conferences.
  • What do you like best about being an engineer?
    There is a lot of variety in my job and I get to solve many different kinds of problems.
  • Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
    I like to think that I helped quite a few students, both engineering and non-engineering, to find an interest in materials science.
  • What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
    I was quite young when I took my first job and it was challenging to gain the respect of some colleagues. I think what worked best was persevering - just doing my job as well as I could.
  • Please tell us a little about your family.
    I am married to a Swede (hence the move to Scandinavia), and we have three wonderful children. The oldest is employed and the two younger ones are still in school.
  • What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
    The short term goal is to work with a local person to launch a company to explore one of my research ideas for production, and the longer term goal is to make an impact in the field of photonics.
  • What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
    I am sure my parents played a role, though I was pretty rebellious. Another large influence was someone who suggested I was a quitter. I fought that image.
  • What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
    Persevere, and believe in yourself. It's way too easy to think that you have to be best - and much more important to do the best you can.
  • Any other stories or comments you would like to share with EngineerGirl visitors?
    It's way too easy to think that you have to be best - and much more important to do the best you can.
  • Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
    I'm a windsurfer, and love the complexity of the interplay of wind, waves and sail. I never worry about anything else when I am sailing - it is liberating.
Biography
I teach engineering (materials science and nanotechnology) to college and graduate students. I also participate in research activities, investigating the interaction of very small structures with electromagnetic fields.
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Latest Questions
  • Manuela Monegro asked Ursula Gibson, Dartmouth College

    Added Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 11:29 PM

    Related to Materials, Materials
    Answers 1
    Ursula Gibson, Dartmouth College
    Answered Monday, June 12, 2017 at 10:57 AM
    There are many approaches to a career in materials sciences and engineering - some undergraduate programs have majors that are directly tailored to this field, but many come to this area with a background in sciences such as chemistry or physics.
  • Taryn, Iowa State University

    Added Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    I just discovered this blog while doing a search about how I could relate fashion and engineering. I had always planned on majoring in fashion design, but my love of math and science has caused me to try engineering for at least a year. I deferred my admission to a top design school, and I am going to take engineering courses freshman year at a different college. I am in materials engineering, but not sure if that is the correct engineering field. My dream is to be able to combine my fashion ...
    Answers 1
    Ursula Gibson, Dartmouth College
    Answered Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    Dear Taryn,

    Combining engineering with fashion sounds like a great thing to do.  The "high-tech" wearables industry is just emerging, and is sure to be a growth industry.  The two engineering aspects that are most relevant are ...

    Read More
  • Kennedy, Naples

    Added Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    I'm in 5th grade, and I'm looking up to being an environmental engineer. Is there any way I can get a jump start to earn a scholarship for college, and prepare for my future? I mean, what can I do?
    Answers 1
    Ursula Gibson, Dartmouth College
    Answered Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    Dear Kennedy,

    There are scholarships based on academic merit, sports talent, and financial need.  In all cases, you will need to have excellent grades, and it helps if you have demonstrated your interest in your future career through ...

    Read More
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