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Donna Strickland first Canadian woman to win Nobel Prize in Physics

General news

October 2, 2018

Ill. Niklas Elmehed. © Nobel Media

NSERC congratulates Dr. Donna Strickland of the University of Waterloo on being named a winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics. She shares the award with French laser physicist Gérard Mourou and U.S. physicist Arthur Ashkin. Dr. Strickland is the first Canadian woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics, and only the third woman ever to have won the prize.

Dr. Strickland is receiving the prize for her research on chirped pulse amplification, which she conducted while a PhD student with Dr. Mourou in 1985 at the University of Rochester in New York. Their work found a novel approach for stretching and boosting the power of laser light. This research has already led to a variety of applications, most notably as scalpels used in laser eye surgery. Their work is being carried forward by scientists exploring the use of chirped pulse amplification in physics research and cancer therapies now being explored for future applications.

NSERC has proudly provided continuous support for Dr. Strickland’s research since 1997, when she received her first Discovery Grant to continue her laser research in Canada at the University of Waterloo. She has also received support from NSERC’s partnership programs, working with companies to develop laser systems for molecular spectroscopy applications.

This is the second time in three years that a Canadian has won the Nobel Prize in Physics. In 2015, Dr. Arthur B. McDonald of Queen’s University received the prize for his role in the discovery of neutrino oscillations.

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