First Photon Fellowship Awarded

Published on November 07, 2017

Environmental stewardship has been a big part of Caci Gibson’s life for about as long as she can remember. And the Eastern Kentucky University senior from London plans to remain in eastern Kentucky as an environmental activist.

So it is no surprise that Gibson is the first recipient of the University’s new $1,000 Photon Fellowship, to be awarded annually to a student who has made the most significant contribution to environmental responsibility and sustainability, broadly defined.

An environmental studies major slated to graduate in December, Gibson has worked in the University’s Office of Sustainability since Fall 2016. She now serves as the student sustainability coordinator, with a focus on climate and energy reporting.

“Caci epitomizes the values we are working to instill in our entire campus community,” said Patrick McKee, sustainability manager. “She has contributed greatly to EKU’s strategic sustainability initiatives and has served as a leader amongst her peers. She is definitely deserving of this award.”

Last year, Gibson was part of a student team that helped launch the first #EKULocal Festival. When the event was repeated this fall and with Gibson as one of the event’s primary planners, attendance more than doubled.

She helped coordinate volunteers and vendors for the 2017 Earth Day Festival, and coordinated a rain barrel workshop with Bluegrass Green Source. Gibson also worked on the 2017 Transportation Sustainability Survey, the 2016 Greenhouse Gas Inventory, the AASHE Stars Report and the University’s Climate Action and Resiliency Plan.

Outside her office work, Gibson has been active with the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition (KSEC), a network of students and young people ages 13-30 who wish to create environmental change across the state. The campus chapter of KSEC is Green Crew, and Gibson was the organization’s delegate to KSEC for 2017, assisting with the planning for KSEC’s spring and fall summits this year. This semester, Gibson has served as an intern with KSEC’s Just Transition Working Group.

Earlier this year, Dr. Gary Booth, a 1962 EKU alumnus and former vice president of research at P & G, contributed $25,000 as a lead gift to fund the purchase and installation of the first 25 solar panels of a 100-plus solar array at the Science Building. He immediately followed the initial gift with a $5,000 donation toward funding the first group of Photon Fellows, recipients of the Photons for the Future Scholarship, with the intent that future funding for the scholarship come from the savings realized by the solar array and gifts from alumni and others.

One $1,000 Photon Fellowship will be awarded each fall. Interested students must submit an application detailing their contributions to environmental responsibility and sustainability, along with letters of reference. For more information, visit solar.eku.eduor email

Contributions to the Solar Energy Fund can be made through University Development, CPO 19A, Eastern Kentucky University, 521 Lancaster Ave., Richmond, Ky., 40475, or at