Alum Update from John Gibson, '51

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

John D S Gibson, BS Physics 1951 wrote to Duke Physics News to give us an update on his life since graduation. Here's what he had to say: Half way through my senior year, Dr. Walter Nielsen, the Department Chair, stopped me in the hall and in the kindest way told me that the department could not recommend me for graduate school. I had no problem completing the requirements for a BS degree in Physics on time, but had to wonder what the job market would be for one with only a BS degree in physics. The answer came sooner than I expected when I received a direct commission in the Air Force by virtue of having a degree in science. I found my training in math and physics very helpful in carrying out my duties of planning, managing and executing Air Force equipment development programs. After taking a civilian Air Force position, I started taking graduate courses in operations research leading to a Master’s degree. Again my undergraduate courses in physics and math were a great help both in obtaining an MS degree and throughout a long and successful career in operations and economics research. Along the way I attended the Stanford University Graduate School of Business on a Sloan Fellowship, and taught statistics to MBA evening students at the University of Dayton.  At 81, three times a week I am still working on physics problems, that is, making timely trajectory predictions concerning inbound spinning tennis balls, in an attempt to hit winning returns. Judging by the results on most days, it appears Dr. Nielsen was right.