Nobel laureate Professor Donna Strickland lights up London

Donna Strickland is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo and is one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 for developing chirped pulse amplification with Gérard Mourou, her PhD supervisor at the time. They published this Nobel-winning research in 1985 when Strickland was a PhD student at the University of Rochester.

Strickland was in London to deliver the Massey Lecture at UCL and kindly stopped by the Department of Physics at King’s College London to talk to members of the SPIE Student Chapter. In this interview, Professor Strickland discusses what she likes to do to let off steam, why outreach and science communication is so important and gives us insight into the life of a Nobel laureate.

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Strickland earned a B.Eng. from McMaster University and a PhD in optics from the University of Rochester. Strickland was a research associate at the National Research Council Canada, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a member of technical staff at Princeton University. In 1997, she joined the University of Waterloo, where her ultrafast laser group develops high-intensity laser systems for nonlinear optics investigations. She was named a 2021 Hagler Fellow of Texas A&M University and sits on the Growth Technology Advisory Board of Applied Materials.

Strickland served as the president of the Optica (formerly OSA) in 2013 and is a fellow of Optica, SPIE, the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Society. She is an honorary fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Physics, an international member of the US National Academy of Science and member of the Pontifical Academy of Science. Strickland was named a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Thanks to Dr Amelle Zair, Emilio Pisanty, Dr Eva Philippaki, members of the King’s College London SPIE LIONS Student Chapter – Vittorio Aita, Dries Maurice, Anne Weber and, of course, Professor Strickland.