Donna Strickland accepts Nobel Prize

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by Suhani Saigal

Students from all over the campus came together to watch the live stream of Professor Donna Strickland accepting her Nobel Prize in Sweden.

Simran Nag and Kyle Li, both second-year students, finished their final exam early to come watch the ceremony on Dec. 10 in Needles Hall.

The free event at The Senate Chambers in Needles Hall was decorated with black and gold balloons and was filled to capacity with about 200 students and faculty members.

Once the ceremony started, there were no chairs left and students sat on the floor or stood at the back of the hall.

Students donned their UWaterloo tees and cheered every time they got a glimpse of Strickland on one of three screens set up for viewers.

Some students took out their phones to take photos of her; others just absorbed the moment with smiles on their faces.

Strickland was one of the three Laureates awarded for Physics by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. As she walked forward to accept her prize in Sweden, students and faculty members at Needles stood up from their seats to give her a standing ovation.

Faculty of Math Lecturer, Paul McGrath said he was pleased to see the grand turnout of students despite the stress of final exams.

Kelly McManus, senior director of community relations and events, and her team organized the event, the press conference and kick-off event for Strickland. Once the ceremony started, walk-ins were allowed with a registration.

McManus said the more people there were to celebrate the Laureate, the better.

Many left the hall after Strickland received her prize, except for some who religiously follow the ceremony. McManus said that was expected, as most students were there to see Strickland, although some were extremely interested in it.

Strickland found out she won on Oct. 2 and the community showed  pride when one of their own was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for her work on chirped pulse amplification with her doctoral adviser, Gérard Mourou.

An assistant professor in 1997, Strickland was the first female full-time physics professor at the University of Waterloo.

Both winners published their work, ‘Compression of amplified chirped optical pulses’ in 1985 when Strickland was a doctoral student under Mourou.

Students like Nag and Li would take Strickland’s class in a heartbeat if they could.

McManus said students unable to get into Strickland’s classes might be able to attend a public lecture by Strickland toward the end of January.

Mark your calendars and prepare yourselves because this might be the most crowded event of the year.

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