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Light People: Professor Donna Strickland


It is rare for an associate professor to win the Nobel Prize for Physics, even more so when she was only the third woman in history to do so, but Dr. Donna Strickland did just that. A permanent smile on her face expressing her friendliness, the fast speaking speed showing her quick thinking, Dr. Strickland is not only a good tutor with strong hands-on ability and high working efficiency in the eyes of her students, but also an optimistic and diligent scholar in the eyes of her peers. Taking an active part in academic societies and the popularization of science, she regards scientific research as “fun”. The famous Canadian physicist Donna Strickland talks exclusively to Light: Science and Applications (light).

Biography: Donna Strickland is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo and one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 for developing chirped pulse amplification with Gérard Mourou, her PhD supervisor. Together they paved the way toward the most intense laser pulses ever created. Their research has several applications today in industry and medicine—including the cutting of a patient’s cornea in laser eye surgery and the machining of small glass parts for use in cell phones.

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. She is a recipient of a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Premier’s Research Excellence Award, and a Cottrell Scholar Award. She served as the president of the Optical Society (OSA) in 2013 and is a fellow of OSA, the Royal Society of Canada, and SPIE (International Society for Optics and Photonics). Strickland is an honorary fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering as well as the Institute of Physics. She received the Golden Plate Award from the Academy of Achievement and holds numerous honorary doctorates.


Fig. 1 Group photo of CIOMP executives and the OSA delegation at CIOMP in 2012.


Fig. 2 Dr. Strickland with some founding members of the journal Light: Science & Applications and her OSA colleagues.


Fig. 3 The OSA delegation visits the Changchun New Industries Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. based at CIOMP.


Fig. 4 Prof. Strickland, then OSA President with Ms. Hui Wang, light special correspondent for this interview and one of the journal’s founding members, at an international conference at the University of Rochester in 2013.

Light special correspondent

Hui Wang is the Deputy Director of the Office of International Cooperation in the Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics (CIOMP), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). She currently works on international communication and cooperation for the CIOMP and was a founding member for the Nature Publishing Group and CIOMP joint journal Light: Science & Applications. She is the founder of “Rose in Science” and has published several articles in Acta Editologica, International Talent, etc., and was invited to take an interview by SPIE Women in Optics, which was published in 2015.


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Correspondence to Hui Wang.

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Wang, H. Light People: Professor Donna Strickland. Light Sci Appl 10, 66 (2021).

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