Donna Strickland, PhD

Dr. Donna Strickland, PhD

Donna Strickland was still just an associate professor when she was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. It wasn’t the University of Rochester’s fault; she simply never applied to become a full professor. She graduated from McMaster University in 1981 with a bachelor of engineering degree in physics, one of only three women in a class of 25, and joined the lab of French physicist Gérard Mourou to pursue her doctorate. They devised a way to create high-intensity laser pulses, which they called chirped pulse amplification (CPA). CPA is used in such diverse applications as cancer treatments and the manufacturing of glass for cellphone screens. CPA was described in Strickland’s very first scientific paper, and it led to the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics, which she shared with her mentor Gérard Mourou and Arthur Ashkin.

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