Canadian female physicist wins Nobel Prize

Canada’s Donna Strickland one of three scientists to win Nobel Prize in physics

A Canadian professor ended a 55-year drought for female physicists when she was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for physics on Tuesday, becoming only the third woman to ever win it.

Donna Strickland of the University of Waterloo in Ontario won part of the US $1.01 million prize, which she shared with Gerard Mourou of France and Arthur Ashkin of the United States.

RELATED: Nobel literature prize will not be awarded this year

Sweden’s Royal Academy of Sciences, which chose the winners, said Strickland and Mourou will receive a quarter of the prize each for their work ”generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses,” which have become a critical part of corrective eye surgeries amongst other uses.

The academy said their 1985 article on the technique — called chirped pulse amplification or CPA — was “revolutionary.”

The Guelph-born Strickland, who is an associate professor at Waterloo, told the academy she was left in disbelief when she got the call from Stockholm notifying her of the win, saying she thought it was “crazy.”

She became emotional when told she was only the third woman to have won the physics prize — the first being Marie Curie in 1903, while Maria Goeppert Mayer won in 1963.

“Obviously, we need to celebrate women physicists because we’re out there and hopefully in time it will start to move forward at a faster rate maybe,” she said. “I don’t know what to say. I’m honoured to be one of those women.”

The University of Waterloo issued its congratulations to Strickland on Tuesday morning.

“Dr. Donna Strickland, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at #UWaterloo, is one of three scientists to win this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics. She is the first woman to receive this award in 55 years,” the university said on Twitter.

A 2011 profile on the University of Waterloo web site says Strickland described herself as a “laser jock” who enjoyed the competitive rush, and was working on creating the shortest laser pulse with the biggest punch.

Mourou had been Strickland’s PhD supervisor and said he was thrilled at the win.

RELATED: B.C.-born professor celebrated as mathematical ‘visionary’

“I am very, very happy to share this distinction with my former student Donna Strickland and also to share it with Art Ashkin, for whom I have a lot of respect,” he said in a video released by France’s Polytechnique school, where he is professor.

“With the technology we have developed, laser power has been increased about a million times, maybe even a billion.”

Ashkin, of Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, developed “optical tweezers” that can grab tiny particles such as viruses without damaging them.

Last year’s physics prize went to three Americans who used abstruse theory and ingenious equipment design to detect the faint ripples in the universe called gravitational waves.

Liam Casey , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate indecent act at By The Lake Park

Complaint said man exposed himself in Wetaskiwin

Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate attempted armed robbery

Police seek information about alleged attack and identify suspect

Liquor store robbed in Wetaskiwin

Two suspects robbed Gentleman’s, assaulted staff member

2019 City of Wetaskiwin by-election will be held Sept. 11

Proof of identification needed to vote for two vacant council positions

Leduc RCMP arrest Leduc male for trafficking heroin

Warren Frederick Young, 43, also facing four counts of breaching a recognizance

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Scrapie, a disease related to mad cow, found in two flocks of sheep in Alberta

Health Canada says there is no known link between scrapie and human health

Alberta oil and gas producer cleanup cost estimates set too low, says coalition

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. facing the largest bill at $11.9 billion to clean up 73,000 wells

Scheer on Trump: It’s ‘offensive’ to question the family background of critics

Trump is being called a racist for saying that the four congresswomen should go back where they came from

Instagram expands Canadian pilot removing ‘like’ counts to more countries

Social media giant plans to roll out the test in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, Italy and Ireland

Natural gas producers demand government action in open letter to Kenney

The letter warns that the viability of the natural gas sector is in jeopardy

Remains of missing Edmonton woman discovered outside of North Battleford: RCMP

The 25-year-old Edmonton woman was reported missing on May 12

Most Read