Marie Gibson

Marie Gibson grew up in Hilo, Hawaii and attended the University of Puget Sound before transferring to New Mexico State University. She is majoring in geological sciences and working towards a bachelor’s degree then eventually a master’s degree. Currently she is involved in an undergraduate research project with Dr. Nancy J. McMillan regarding the chemical analysis of oscillatory zoned tourmaline. In Marie’s spare time, she enjoys hiking, camping, photography, and free writing.


Project Description: 

Title: Chemical Analysis of Oscillatory Zoned Tourmaline

Abstract: We will be using Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) analyses to evaluate zoning in liddicoatite tourmaline samples from Madagascar. The LIBS analyses will allow us to examine elements across the entire periodic table in every zone. The goal of this experiment is to identify and establish patterns in the compositional variations within/between zones. Other physical properties like color will also be tracked for correlations between compositional variations.



  • Project description, timeline, and milestones developed with mentor; on file with DSP
  • Complete half of project milestones
  • Complete project
  • Present scholarly work at URCAS
  • Take the GRE
  • Promote #DiscoveryScholars ten times on social media
  • Attend workshop on applying for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) program
  • Apply for the NSF GRF program
  • Apply for graduate or professional school


Marie’s mentor: Dr. Nancy MacMillan:

Nancy McMillan’s research focuses on applications of Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS). LIBS is a relatively new technique and was adopted by NASA to analyze rocks on Mars on the Curisoty rover and the Mars 2020 rover. LIBS is interesting because each analysis contains a staggering amount of information on the concentrations of every element, isotopic ratios, and the structure of the material. McMillan has applied LIBS to a wide range of projects: quality control of highway aggregates, provenance of gems and other earth materials, correlation of geologic units, corrosion of steel bridges, and coal. LIBS research is interesting because its applications are in their infancies and there is often not a clear path forward……science in action!