Nobel laureate Donna Strickland receives inaugural Rev. Carrier Medal

Monday, November 7, 2022

The University of Notre Dame College of Science has introduced its Rev. Joseph Carrier, C.S.C., Science Medal to recognize sustained, outstanding achievements in any field of science. The inaugural medal was given to Waterloo's Nobel Laureate Donna Strickland on November 3rd.

The medal is named after Rev. Joseph Celestine Basile Carrier, C.S.C., who is recognized as the first director of the science program at the University in 1865, when the College of Science was established as a department. The medal will be awarded annually, alternating between the mathematical, physical, chemical and biological sciences, and will be accompanied by a monetary award.

Strickland, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics, with Gérard Mourou, her doctoral supervisor at the time. Strickland developed a technique called "chirped pulse amplification" that amplify beams without damaging the laser amplifier in the process. They realized that by stretching, amplifying, and then compressing the beams, they could boost the intensity of the light dramatically. It allowed more light to packed into a shorter time, increasing the intensity of the pulse, while allowing laser beams to cut into matter with extreme precision.

Chirped pulse amplification has greatly expanded the uses for lasers. Laser tools based on chirped pulse amplification are now employed in scientific, industrial, medical, energy, military and security applications.

donna holding her medal with a reverend on the right and the dean on the left.

L-R: Rev. John I. Jenkins, Waterloo Nobel Laureate Donna Strickland, and Dean Santiago Schnell. Credit: Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame

“Professor Strickland has changed modern science and helped to revolutionize laser physics,” said Santiago Schnell, the William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science. “Thanks to her discoveries, laser technology allows humanity to tackle new and challenging scientific and technological problems. We are now able to explore complex interactions between light and matter, accelerate atomic particles or develop new sources of radiation to treat cancers. We are very pleased that she has agreed to accept our inaugural Carrier Science Medal and look forward to her lecture.”

As a recipient of the Rev. Carrier medal, Strickland gave a public lecture on Notre Dame's campus as part of the award presentation.

In addition to the Nobel Prize and Carrier Medal, Strickland has received the Sloan Research Fellowship, a Premier’s Research Excellence Award and a Cottrell Scholar Award. She received the Golden Plate Award from the Academy of Achievement and holds numerous honorary doctorates.

Strickland is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Companion of the Order of Canada, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She is also an honorary fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Physics.

In the video below, Strickland explains why science awards are necessary and important as well as why the public understands what scientists are researching and accomplishing.

Remote video URL

Congratulations Donna!