Donna Strickland

Donna Theo Strickland (born 27 May 1959)[1][2][3] is a Canadian optical physicist and pioneer in the field of pulsed lasers. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018, together with Gérard Mourou, for the invention of chirped pulse amplification.[4] She is a professor at the University of Waterloo.[5]

She served as fellow, vice president, and president of The Optical Society, and is currently chair of their Presidential Advisory Committee.

Donna Strickland
Strickland during Nobel press conference in Stockholm, December 2018
Donna Theo Strickland

27 May 1959 (age 59)
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Known for
Spouse(s)Doug Dykaar
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Waterloo
ThesisDevelopment of an ultra-bright laser and an application to multi-photon ionization (1988)
Doctoral advisorGérard Mourou
WebsiteUniversity website

Early life and education

Strickland was born on 27 May 1959, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada to Edith J. (née Ranney), an English teacher,[6] and Lloyd Strickland, an electrical engineer.[1] After graduating from Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute, she decided to attend McMaster University because its engineering physics program included lasers and electro-optics, areas of particular interest.[6] At McMaster, she was one of three women in a class of 25. Strickland graduated with a B.Eng. degree in engineering physics in 1981.[7]

Strickland studied for her graduate degree in The Institute of Optics,[8] receiving a Ph.D. degree from the University of Rochester in 1989.[9][10] She conducted her doctoral research at the associated Laboratory for Laser Energetics, supervised by Gérard Mourou.[11] Strickland and Mourou worked to develop an experimental setup that could raise the peak power of laser pulses, to overcome a limitation, that when the maximal intensity of laser pulses reached gigawatts per square centimetre, self-focusing of the pulses severely damaged the amplifying part of the laser. Their 1985 technique of chirped pulse amplification stretched out each laser pulse both spectrally and in time before amplifying it, then compressed each pulse back to its original duration, generating ultrashort optical pulses of terawatt to petawatt intensity.[1] Using chirped pulse amplification allowed smaller high-power laser systems to be built on a typical laboratory optical table, as "table-top terawatt lasers".[11] The work received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics.[12]


Ultrafast Laser group
Strickland's ultrafast laser group at University of Waterloo, in June 2017

From 1988 to 1991, Strickland was a research associate at the National Research Council of Canada, where she worked with Paul Corkum in the Ultrafast Phenomena Section, which had the distinction at that time of having produced the most powerful short-pulse laser in the world.[13] She worked in the laser division of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1991 to 1992 and joined the technical staff of Princeton University's Advanced Technology Center for Photonics and Opto-electronic Materials in 1992. She joined the University of Waterloo in 1997 as an assistant professor.[9] She became the first full-time female professor in physics at the University of Waterloo.[14] Strickland is currently a professor, leading an ultrafast laser group that develops high-intensity laser systems for nonlinear optics investigations.[5] She has described herself as a "laser jock":[12]

I think it's because we thought we were good with our hands. As an experimentalist, you need to understand the physics, but you also need to be able to actually make something work, and the lasers were very finicky in those days.[6]

Strickland's recent work has focused on pushing the boundaries of ultrafast optical science to new wavelength ranges such as the mid-infrared and the ultraviolet, using techniques such as two-colour or multi-frequency methods, as well as Raman generation.[5] She is also working on the role of high-power lasers in the microcrystalline lens of the human eye, during the process of micromachining of the eye lens to cure presbyopia.[5]

Strickland became a fellow of The Optical Society[a] in 2008. She served as its vice president and president in 2011 and 2013 respectively, and was a topical editor of its journal Optics Letters from 2004 to 2010.[5][15] She is currently the chair of The Optical Society's Presidential Advisory Committee.[16] She is a member of and previously served as a board member and Director of Academic Affairs for the Canadian Association of Physicists.[17][18]

Strickland had not applied to be a full professor prior to her Nobel prize, but in October 2018, she told the BBC that she had subsequently applied and was promoted to full professorship at the University of Waterloo.[19]

Awards and recognition

Strickland shares how a trip to the science centre with her father at the age of five helped shape her career in optics, 2018

Nobel Prize

On 2 October 2018, Strickland was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for her work on chirped pulse amplification with her doctoral adviser Gérard Mourou. Arthur Ashkin received the other half of the Prize for unrelated work on optical tweezers. She became the third woman ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, after Marie Curie in 1903 and Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963, and the first in 55 years.[5][23]

Strickland and Mourou published their pioneering work "Compression of amplified chirped optical pulses" in 1985, while Strickland was still a doctoral student under Mourou.[b] Their invention of chirped pulse amplification for lasers at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics in Rochester[11] led to the development of the field of high-intensity ultrashort pulses of light beams. Because the ultrabrief and ultrasharp light beams are capable of making extremely precise cuts, the technique is used in laser micromachining, laser surgery, medicine, fundamental science studies, and other applications. It has enabled doctors to perform millions of corrective laser eye surgeries.[25] She said that after developing the technique they knew it would be a significant discovery.[12]

When she received the Nobel Prize, many commentators were surprised that she had not reached the rank of full professor. In response, Strickland said that she had "never applied" for a professorship;[26] "it doesn't carry necessarily a pay raise… I never filled out the paper work… I do what I want to do and that wasn't worth doing."[6]

Selected publications

  • Strickland, Donna; Mourou, Gerard (1985). "Compression of amplified chirped optical pulses". Optics Communications. 56 (3): 219–221. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/0030-4018(85)90120-8. ISSN 0030-4018.
  • Maine, P.; Strickland, D.; Bado, P.; Pessot, M.; Mourou, G. (1988). "Generation of ultrahigh peak power pulses by chirped pulse amplification". IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics. 24 (2): 398–403. doi:10.1109/3.137. ISSN 0018-9197.
  • Strickland, D.; Corkum, P. B. (1994). "Resistance of short pulses to self-focusing". Journal of the Optical Society of America B. 11 (3): 492–497. doi:10.1364/JOSAB.11.000492.

Personal life

Strickland is married to Douglas Dykaar, also a physicist.[7] They have two children.[7] Strickland's daughter Hannah is a graduate student in astrophysics at the University of Toronto.[14] Strickland's son Adam is studying comedy at Humber College.[27] Strickland is an active member of The United Church of Canada. [28]

See also


  1. ^ Then known as Optical Society of America (OSA).
  2. ^ Strickland attempted to add Steve Williamson as an author of the article, but Williamson removed the name as "he hadn't done enough".[6][24]


  1. ^ a b c Strickland, Donna Theo (1988). Development of an ultra-bright laser and an application to multi-photon ionization (PDF) (PhD). University of Rochester. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  2. ^ Lindinger, Manfred (2 October 2018). "Eine Zange aus lauter Licht". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  3. ^ "Donna Strickland – Facts – 2018". Nobel Foundation. 6 October 2018. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Physics Nobel prize won by Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland". The Guardian. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Donna Strickland". University of Waterloo. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e Booth, Laura (3 October 2018). "Scientist caught in a Nobel whirlwind". Waterloo Region Record. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Semeniuk, Ivan (2 October 2018). "Canada's newest Nobel Prize winner, Donna Strickland, 'just wanted to do something fun'". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  8. ^ Mourou, Gérard (2004). "53. The dawn of ultrafast science and technology at the University of Rochester" (PDF). In Stroud, Carlos (ed.). A Jewel in the Crown: 75th Anniversary Essays of The Institute of Optics of the University of Rochester. Rochester, NY: Meliora Press. p. 272. ISBN 978-1580461627.
  9. ^ a b c d "Biographies – Donna T. Strickland". The Optical Society. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Donna Strickland". Education Program for Photonics Professionals. University of Waterloo. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Valich, Lindsey (2 October 2018). "Rochester breakthrough in laser science earns Nobel Prize". Newscenter. University of Rochester. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d Murphy, Jessica (2 October 2018). "Donna Strickland: The 'laser jock' Nobel prize winner". BBC News. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  13. ^ Page, Shelley (19 October 1990). "Laser lab makes short work of super beam". Ottawa Citizen.
  14. ^ a b Nusca, Andrew (17 October 2018). "Nobel Laureate Donna Strickland: Yes, Women Are Joining Physics. But We've Got Work to Do". Fortune. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  15. ^ "Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou, and Donna Strickland Awarded 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics". The Optical Society. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  16. ^ "Standing and Ad Hoc Committees". The Optical Society. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  17. ^ "News Flash: Canadian physicist, Donna Strickland, co-recipient of 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics". Canadian Association of Physicists. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  18. ^ McBride, Jason (20 October 2018). "Nobel laureate Donna Strickland: 'I see myself as a scientist, not a woman in science'". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Nobel laureate Donna Strickland is now full professor". Waterloo Region Record. 25 October 2018. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Past Sloan Fellows". Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  21. ^ "Cottrell Scholars" (PDF). Research Corporation for Science Advancement. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  22. ^ "2008 OSA Fellows". The Optical Society. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  23. ^ Rincon, Paul (2 October 2018). "First woman Physics Nobel winner in 55 years". BBC News. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  24. ^ Strickland, Donna; Mourou, Gerard (15 October 1985). "Compression of amplified chirped optical pulses". Optics Communications. 55 (6): 447–449. doi:10.1016/0030-4018(85)90151-8. ISSN 0030-4018.
  25. ^ "'Optical Tweezers' and Tools Used for Laser Eye Surgery Snag Physics Nobel". Scientific American. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  26. ^ Crowe, Cailin (2 October 2018). "'I Never Applied': Nobel Winner Explains Associate-Professor Status, but Critics Still See Steeper Slope for Women". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  27. ^ "Nobel laureate Donna Strickland: 'I see myself as a scientist, not a woman in science'". The Guardian. 20 October 2018. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  28. ^ Mitchell, Alanna "How This Nobel Prize Winner Balances Physics And Faith", Broadview, May 2019

External links

1959 in Canada

Events from the year 1959 in Canada.

1959 in science

The year 1959 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.

2018 in Canada

Events for the year 2018 in Canada.

Arthur Ashkin

Arthur Ashkin (born September 2, 1922) is an American scientist and Nobel laureate who worked at Bell Laboratories and Lucent Technologies. Ashkin has been considered by many as the father of optical tweezers,

for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 at age 96, becoming the oldest Nobel Laureate. He resides in Rumson, New Jersey.Ashkin started his work on manipulation of microparticles with laser light in the late 1960s which resulted in the invention of optical tweezers in 1986. He also pioneered the optical trapping process that eventually was used to manipulate atoms, molecules, and biological cells. The key phenomenon is the radiation pressure of light; this pressure can be dissected down into optical gradient and scattering forces.

Donna (given name)

Donna is an English-language feminine first name meaning "woman" in Italian. The original meaning is closer to "lady of the home" and was a title of respect in Italy, equivalent to Don for men. It is a common given name in the United States (particularly in Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco). It is rare as a surname.

Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute

The Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute (GCVI, Guelph C.V.I., GC) is a public high school in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The school is the oldest continuously operating public high school in Guelph, and the third oldest in the province of Ontario, Canada.

Gérard Mourou

Gérard Albert Mourou (French: [ʒeʁaʁ muʁu]; born 22 June 1944) is a French scientist and pioneer in the field of electrical engineering and lasers. He was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018, along with Donna Strickland, for the invention of chirped pulse amplification, a technique later used to create ultrashort-pulse, very high-intensity (petawatt) laser pulses.In 1994, Mourou and his team at the University of Michigan discovered that the balance between the self-focusing refraction (see Kerr effect) and self-attenuating diffraction by ionization and rarefaction of a laser beam of terawatt intensities in the atmosphere creates "filaments" which act as waveguides for the beam thus preventing divergence.

Laboratory for Laser Energetics

The Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) is a scientific research facility which is part of the University of Rochester's south campus, located in Brighton, New York. The lab was established in 1970 and its operations since then have been funded jointly; mainly by the United States Department of Energy, the University of Rochester and the New York State government. The Laser Lab was commissioned to serve as a center for investigations of high-energy physics, specifically those involving the interaction of extremely intense laser radiation with matter. Many types of scientific experiments are performed at the facility with a strong emphasis on inertial confinement, direct drive, laser-induced fusion, fundamental plasma physics and astrophysics using OMEGA. In June of 1995, OMEGA became the world's highest-energy ultraviolet laser. The lab shares its building with the Center for Optoelectronics and Imaging and the Center for Optics Manufacturing. The Robert L. Sproull Center for Ultra High Intensity Laser Research was opened in 2005 and houses the OMEGA EP laser, which was completed in May 2008.

The laboratory is unique in conducting big science on a university campus. More than 180 Ph.D.s have been awarded for research done at the LLE. During summer months the lab sponsors a program for high school students which involves local-area high school juniors in the research being done at the laboratory. Most of the projects are done on current research that is led by senior scientists at the lab.

Laser science

Laser science or laser physics is a branch of optics that describes the theory and practice of lasers.Laser science is principally concerned with quantum electronics, laser construction, optical cavity design, the physics of producing a population inversion in laser media, and the temporal evolution of the light field in the laser. It is also concerned with the physics of laser beam propagation, particularly the physics of Gaussian beams, with laser applications, and with associated fields such as nonlinear optics and quantum optics.

List of Nobel laureates in Physics

The Nobel Prize in Physics (Swedish: Nobelpriset i fysik) is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of physics. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the 1895 will of Alfred Nobel (who died in 1896), awarded for outstanding contributions in physics. As dictated by Nobel's will, the award is administered by the Nobel Foundation and awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The award is presented in Stockholm at an annual ceremony on 10 December, the anniversary of Nobel's death. Each recipient receives a medal, a diploma and a monetary award prize that has varied throughout the years.

List of female Nobel laureates

As of 2018, Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 853 men, 51 women (Marie Curie won it twice), and 24 unique organizations.The distribution of female Nobel Laureates is as follows:

seventeen women have won the Nobel Peace Prize,

fourteen have won the Nobel Prize in Literature,

twelve have won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine,

five have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry,

three have won the Nobel Prize in Physics,

and one, Elinor Ostrom, has won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.The first woman to win a Nobel Prize was Marie Curie, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 with her husband, Pierre Curie, and Henri Becquerel. Curie is also the only woman to have won multiple Nobel Prizes; in 1911, she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Curie's daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935, making the two the only mother-daughter pair to have won Nobel Prizes.The most Nobel Prizes awarded to women in a single year was in 2009, when five women became laureates in four categories.

The most recent women to be awarded a Nobel Prize were Donna Strickland in Physics, Frances Arnold in Chemistry, and Nadia Murad for Peace (2018).

List of people from Guelph

This is a list of notable people who are from Guelph, Ontario, or have spent a large part or formative part of their career in that city.

Nobel Prize in Physics

The Nobel Prize in Physics (Swedish: Nobelpriset i fysik) is a yearly award given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for those who have made the most outstanding contributions for humankind in the field of physics. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others being the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The first Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to physicist Wilhelm Röntgen in recognition of the extraordinary services he rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays (or x-rays). This award is administered by the Nobel Foundation and widely regarded as the most prestigious award that a scientist can receive in physics. It is presented in Stockholm at an annual ceremony on 10 December, the anniversary of Nobel's death. Through 2018, a total of 209 individuals have been awarded the prize.

OSA Fellow

The OSA Fellow is a membership designation of The Optical Society (OSA) that denotes distinguished scientific accomplishment. The bylaws of this society only allow 10% of its membership to be designated as an OSA Fellow. The OSA Fellow requires peer group nomination.

Sloan Research Fellowship

The Sloan Research Fellowships are awarded annually by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation since 1955 to "provide support and recognition to early-career scientists and scholars". This program is one of the oldest of its kind in the United States.Fellowships were initially awarded in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Awards were later added in neuroscience (1972), economics (1980), computer science (1993), and computational and evolutionary molecular biology (2002). These two-year fellowships are awarded to 126 researchers yearly.

The Institute of Optics

The Institute of Optics is a department and research center at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. The Institute grants degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels through the University of Rochester School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Since its founding, the Institute has granted over 2,400 degrees in optics, making up about half of the degrees awarded in the field in the U.S. The Institute is made up of 16 full-time professors, 8 professors with joint appointments in other departments, 5 adjunct professors, 12 research scientists, 11 staff, about 100 undergraduate students and about 100 graduate students.According to the National Research Council, in its latest ranking of physics departments, the Institute of Optics was ranked 25th in the nation.

The Optical Society

The Optical Society (originally established as The Optical Society of America, OSA) is a scientific society dedicated to advancing the study of light—optics and photonics—in theory and application, by means of publishing, organizing conferences and exhibitions, partnership with industry, and education. The organization has members in more than 100 countries. As of 2018, the OSA had over 21,000 individual members and more than 265 corporate member companies.

University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo (commonly referred to as Waterloo, UW, or UWaterloo) is a public research university with a main campus in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. The main campus is on 404 hectares (998 acres) of land adjacent to "Uptown" Waterloo and Waterloo Park. The university offers academic programs administered by six faculties and ten faculty-based schools. The university also operates three satellite campuses and four affiliated university colleges. Waterloo is a member of the U15, a group of research-intensive universities in Canada. The University of Waterloo is most famous for its cooperative education (co-op) programs, which allow the students to integrate their education with applicable work experiences. The university operates the largest post-secondary co-operative education program in the world, with over 20, 000 undergraduate students in over 140 co-operative education programs.The institution was established on 1 July 1957 as the Waterloo College Associate Faculties, a semi-autonomous entity of Waterloo College, then an affiliate of the University of Western Ontario. This entity formally separated from Waterloo College and was incorporated as a university with the passage of the University of Waterloo Act by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1959. It was established to fill the need to train engineers and technicians for Canada's growing postwar economy. It grew substantially over the next decade, adding a faculty of arts in 1960, and the College of Optometry of Ontario (now the School of Optometry and Vision Science), which moved from Toronto in 1967.The university is co-educational, and as of 2016 had 30,600 undergraduate and 5,300 postgraduate students. Alumni and former students of the university can be found across Canada and in over 140 countries. Waterloo's varsity teams, known as the Waterloo Warriors, compete in the Ontario University Athletics conference of the U Sports.

Women in physics

This is a list of woman who have made an important contribution to the field of physics.

2018 Nobel Prize laureates
Peace (2018)
Physiology or Medicine
Economic Sciences

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