Two CSU graduate students win prestigious P.E.O. Scholar Awards

Lyndsey Gray, a Ph.D. candidate in Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, and Katherine S. Rocci, a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at Colorado State University, are among the doctoral students at North American colleges and universities selected to receive a prestigious $20,000 P.E.O. Scholar Award from the P.E.O. Sisterhood.

“They are both amazing and accomplished scholars, and represent two of only 847 women from the entire United States and Canada selected for the scholarship,” said Jeannie Harms of P.E.O. Chapter HF in Estes Park, Colorado, which nominated Gray and Rocci for the award. “In addition, both women have contributed significant time to the mentoring of STEM women and marginalized communities.”

Lyndsey Gray

A 2020-21 Sustainability Leadership Fellow in the CSU School of Global Environmental Sustainability, Gray is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where she earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences with minors in Chinese and Spanish. She is also a graduate of the Rollins School of Public Health, Global Epidemiology, and served in the Peace Corp in Peru 2012-14.

Gray, who works in the lab of Professor Brian Foy, was lead author of an article published in Nature Scientific Review and is the recipient of numerous scholarships, fellowships, and grants and teaching assistantships. She was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholar, and is active in the Northern Colorado chapter of Graduate Women in Science, serving as president for the 2020-21 term.

Gray’s Ph.D. research focuses on a novel malaria prevention strategy seeking to reduce mosquito and plasmodium parasite populations.


Katherine Rocci

Lyndsey Gray
Lyndsey Gray

Rocci is a 2017 summa cum laude graduate of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, where she participated in the EcoQuest Study Abroad program in Whakatiwai, New Zealand. She completed a senior thesis on environmental controls of methane emissions from a subartic peatland.

Rocci has significant research experience and awards, capped most recently by a competitive NSF Graduate Research Fellowship awarded to high achieving science students, and has published peer-reviewed articles in four highly regarded scientific journals.

Her research focuses on projects evaluating the impacts of climate change. She currently is investigating whether global environmental changes, like atmospheric warming and nitrogen pollution, will release carbon from soils, further exacerbating climate change.

In addition to pursuing her Ph.D., Rocci has taken an active role in mentoring and supporting marginalized women and minorities in STEM through active leadership in Graduate Women in Science, CSU, and in K-12 outreach.


P.E.O. Scholar Awards

Katherine Rocci
Katherine Rocci

P.E.O. stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization, a nonprofit that has been celebrating women helping women reach for the stars for more than 150 years. What started with a bond of friendship among seven women in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, is now one of the oldest women’s organizations in North America with close to 6,000 chapters.

Through membership, the P.E.O. Sisterhood has brought together more than a half a million women in the United States and Canada who are passionate about helping women advance through education, while supporting and motivating them. Since its inception in 1869, the organization has helped more than 116,000 women pursue educational goals by providing over $383 million in grants, scholarships, awards and loans.

The P.E.O. Scholar Awards program, established in 1991, provides substantial merit-based awards for women in the U.S. and Canada who are pursuing a doctoral-level degree at an accredited college or university.

In addition to the educational philanthropies, the P.E.O. Sisterhood provides a framework of support and community for all members. The Sisterhood also owns and supports Cottey College.

To learn more about P.E.O. and its powerful educational philanthropies, and to see stories of women who have benefited from the programs, visit