The groundbreaking work of three scholars with ties to the University of Rochester took center stage when pioneering laser scientist Donna Strickland ’89 (PhD) and her Rochester advisor Gerard Mourou formally received the Nobel Prize in Physics, and Paul Romer, whose early career tenure-track appointment was in Rochester’s Department of Economics, received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.
Strickland, who is now an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and Mourou, now a professor at the École Polytechnique in France, are being recognized for their Rochester work to develop “chirped-pulse amplification,” a technology that harnesses the power of lasers as precision tools and helped pave the way for laser-eye surgery, the machining of key parts for cell phones and other devices, tools for cancer treatment, and other clinical and commercial applications. The technology was the basis for Strickland’s 1988 doctoral dissertation at Rochester, where she was a graduate student working with Morou at the University’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics. They both receive a share of the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Romer, who was an assistant professor in the Department of Economics from 1982 to 1988 shortly after receiving his PhD from the University of Chicago, will be awarded the Nobel Prize for his work to assess the interaction of technology, productivity, and economic growth. He shares the prize with economist William Nordhaus of Yale University.