December 11, 2018
University of Waterloo associate professor Donna Strickland. Photo from University of Waterloo

By Terry Foster, Spoke News

Donna Strickland, associate professor at the University of Waterloo, became only the third woman in history to receive the Nobel Prize in the field of physics.

Strickland was among three scientists recognized Monday for her contributions in the area of photonics and opto-electronic materials. She is the first woman to win the award in physics in 55 years. Strickland worked alongside Arthur Ashkin of Bell Laboratories in New Jersey and Gerard Mourou from France.

Half of the $1.29 million prize will go to Ashkin for his invention of laser tweezers, which are used to manipulate microscopic particles by holding them within a laser beam. The other half of the cash prize will be divided between Strickland and Mourou for their work with short but powerful laser pulses that have opened up new areas of research into laser technology.

Strickland is the first woman to win the coveted award since Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963, for proposing the nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus.

With women under-represented in STEM fields, this award is a great achievement for Strickland as well as for all women in science.

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