Nobel Laureate and 2013 President Donna Strickland received her B. Eng. Degree in Physics, from McMaster University in 1981. She graduated from the University of Rochester, New York, USA in 1989 with a Ph.D. in Optics. Along with her Ph.D. supervisor, Gerard Mourou, Strickland co-invented Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA), which made it possible to amplify ultra-short pulses to unprecedented levels. From 1988 to 1991, Strickland was a research associate at the National Research Council of Canada. The following year, she was a physicist with the laser division of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In 1992, she became a member of the technical staff of Princeton's Advanced Technology Center for Photonics and Opto-electronic Materials.
Strickland joined the physics department of the University of Waterloo as an assistant professor in 1997. At Waterloo, Strickland's ultrafast laser group develops high-intensity laser systems for nonlinear optics investigations. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2002 and since 2007 has been the Associate Chair of the Department. Strickland was selected as an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in 1998. She received a Premier’s Research Excellence Award in 1999 and a Cottrell Scholars Award from Research Corporation in 2000 and was named a Fellow of the OSA in 2008.
Strickland has worked on several committees within the OSA. She has been on the editorial board of OPN and she served as a topical editor for Optics Letters from 2004-2010. She has chaired the Archie McMahon and R.W. Wood Prize committees, served as FiO General Chair in 2012, as FiO Program co-chair in 2010, and she was on the program committee for the International Conference on Ultrafast Phenomena in 2002. Strickland was a member of the Member and Education Services Council (MES) from 2004 to 2006. She previously served on the OSA Board of Directors as a Director at Large from 2005-2007, and she sat on the Board’s Executive Committee during 2006-2007. From 2008-2011, she was the OSA-appointed representative to the International Commission for Optics (ICO) Board. Strickland served on OSA's Nominating Committee 2013-2014, and was its chair from 2015-2017. She is a member of OSA's Public Policy Committee and has also served on OSA's Presidential Advisory Committee, of which she is the Chair through 2020.
On 2 October 2018, Strickland was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, along with Gérard Mourou, for their work on chirped pulse amplification. Strickland and Mourou found that stretching a laser out reduced its peak power, which could then be greatly amplified using normal instruments. Strickland and Mourou shared half of the Prize while the other half was awarded to Arthur Ashkin.
When Gérard Mourou and I reported the CPA concept at an OSA annual meeting in 1985, he said that the technique would make petawatt lasers possible.
I thought that was audacious, but he was of course correct.