Donna Strickland was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018 for her role in inventing chirped pulse amplification. This makes her just the third woman ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, and the first woman since Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963.
What’s particularly interesting about Strickland is that she received the highest honour in science from a position as unconventional as ‘associate professor’, rather than as a full professor. She told the website The Record that she’d never felt the need to “fill out the paperwork” to apply for the higher position, as she already had tenure and there was no guaranteed pay rise.
Strickland attended McMaster University, attracted to the lasers and electro-optics capacities of the engineer physics programme. She was one of just three women to graduate from a class of 25 people, then went on to receive a PhD from the University of Rochester.
Her chirped pulse amplification allowed smaller high-power laser systems to be built on a typical laboratory optical table.
As of 2020, she’s a full professor at the University of Waterloo, and has served as fellow, vice president and president of The Optical Society.Tags: Canada, Nobel Prize, physics, research, Women in Science, Women in STEM