College of Science introduces Rev. Joseph Carrier, C.S.C., Science Medal; Nobel laureate Donna Strickland first recipient

Author: Deanna Csomo Ferrell

Donna Strickland
Donna Strickland

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 medal will be awarded annually, alternating between the mathematical, physical, chemical and biological sciences, and will be accompanied by a monetary award.

The Rev. Carrier medalist will be invited to give a public lecture on campus as part of the award presentation.

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.

“In creating the Rev. Carrier Medal, we will honor world-class achievement in the sciences and inspire Notre Dame students to strive for the same level of greatness as that of Father Carrier and our medalists,” said Santiago Schnell, the William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science.

Father Carrier was born in France in 1833 and was interested in the natural sciences from an early age. He immigrated to the United States, joined Notre Dame in 1860 and was ordained in 1861. He solidified the science program at the University, which at that time was a six-year program that included two preparatory years and four collegiate years.

The inaugural Rev. Joseph Carrier, C.S.C., Science Medal will be presented in November to Donna Strickland, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2018.

Strickland, a professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, will accept the award and present a lecture at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 3 (Thursday) in Room 105, Jordan Hall of Science. The event is free and open to the public.

Strickland was awarded the Nobel Prize for her part in inventing a technique called chirped pulse amplification, which has allowed doctors to perform corrective eye surgery and manufacturers to cut glass for cellphones. She shared the 2018 prize with her doctoral adviser, Gérard Mourou, for work they published in 1985 while she was at the University of Rochester in New York.

“Professor Strickland has changed modern science and helped to revolutionize laser physics,” Schnell said. “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.”

Strickland was the third woman, after Marie Curie in 1903 and Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963, to win the Nobel Prize in physics. Andrea Ghez later won the prize in 2020.

Strickland’s Nobel-winning research was outlined in her first-ever scientific paper. She began work at the University of Waterloo in 1997 after working as a research associate at the National Research Council Canada, as a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and as a member of the technical staff at Princeton University.

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.

An annual call for nominations for the Carrier Medal will be open to national and international senior scientists. Any candidate nominations will remain valid and shall be considered by the award selection committee throughout three nomination cycles. Teams or groups may be nominated for this award as well. See the College of Science website for more information about the Carrier Medal.