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Rochester’s Nobel laureates

October 9, 2017
Nobel Prize winner Donna Strickland in her laser labDonna Strickland '89 (PhD) seen in her laboratory at the University of Waterloo. Strickland shared the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics with Gérard Mourou, a former engineering professor and scientist at the University’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), "for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses" developed at the LLE in the 1980s. (Getty Images)

Rochester alumni and faculty have to date received a total of 12 Nobel Prizes, across a range of categories that includes physics, medicine or physiology, and economics.

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to both Gérard Mourou, a former engineer and senior scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), and Donna Strickland ’89 (PhD) for their work developing “chirped-pulse amplification,” or CPA. CPA technology, which was the basis for Strickland’s 1988 PhD dissertation, paved the way for more compact and precise high-intensity laser systems. In addition, Paul Romer, a former assistant professor in the Department of Economics, has been awarded a shared Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work in endogenous growth theory, which assesses the influence of new technology on economic growth and vice-versa.

Mourou and Strickland are the third and fourth members of the University community to be awarded the prize in physics, and Strickland is the third woman ever to receive the prize. Read more about Mourou and Strickland’s achievement  Romer is the third person with Rochester ties to win the prize in economics, following last year’s prize awarded Richard Thaler ’74 (PhD). Read more about Romer’s achievement

Here’s a look at all of Rochester’s Nobel Prize recipients:


2018 Prize in Physics

Donna Strickland ’89 (PhD) and Gérard Mourou, developers of “chirped-pulse amplification” in lasers

two archival photos of Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland

Gérard Mourou, left, photographed in Rochester in 1987, and Donna Strickland ’89 (PhD), seen aligning an optical fiber in her lab in Rochester in 1985. The pair will share half of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics “for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses.” (University of Rochester photos)


2018 Prize in Economic Sciences

Paul Romer, developer of the endogenous growth theory

photo of Paul Romer

Paul Romer, a former assistant professor of economics at Rochester, was recognized as a pioneer of the endogenous growth theory, which integrates technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis. (photo credit: Wikipedia)


2017 Prize in Economic Sciences

Richard Thaler ’74 (PhD), one of the founders of behavioral economics.

man in academic robes speaking at a podium

Richard Thaler ’74 (PhD), a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and one of the founders of the discipline of behavioral economics, receives an honorary doctor of science degree from the University of Rochester in 2010. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)


2002 Nobel Prize in Physics

Masatoshi Koshiba ’55 (PhD), a physicist who led work to detect the subatomic particles known as neutrinos.

man at a table in front of mics and reporters

Masatoshi Koshiba, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, attends a press conference at in Tokyo after receiving the news Tuesday that he and two American researchers won the Nobel Prize in Physics for “pioneering contributions to astrophysics.” (AP Photo)


1997 Nobel Prize in Physics

Physicist Steven Chu ’70, former Secretary of Energy who developed methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.

Two men shaking hands in a theater

Steven Chu, then at Stanford University, receives the Nobel Prize in Physics from Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm in 1997. (AP Photo)


1993 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences

Robert Fogel, an economist who pioneered quantitative analyses of social history.

man and woman smiling in front of crowded bookcase

Professor Robert Fogel, a member of the Rochester economics faculty in the 1960s and 1970s, speaks to reporters in his University of Chicago office in 1993, as wife, Enid, looks on after learning that he had shared in winning the 1993 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. (Eugene Garcia/AFP/Getty Images)


1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Carleton Gajdusek ’43, who is credited with discovering the infectious disease mechanism of prions.

black and white photo of group of men

The Nobel Prize winners for 1976 gather at the United States Ambassador’s residence in Stockholm in 1976. From left: Burton Richter, corecipient in physics; Carleton Gajdusek, corecipient in medicine; William Lipscomb, chemistry; Saul Bellow, literature; Samuel Ting, corecipient in physics; Milton Friedman, economics; and Baruch Blumberg, corecipient in medicine. (AP Photo)


1959 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Arthur Kornberg ’41M (MD), who first discovered a way to synthesize DNA.

black and white photo of otwo men shaking hands in front of formally dressed audience

Arthur Kornberg receives his Nobel Prize for medicine from King Gustav Adolf of Sweden in 1959 for his pioneering research of a basic mechanism of heredity. (AP Photo)


1955 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Vincent du Vigneaud ’27 (PhD), a biochemist, for research on sulfur-containing compounds

black and white photo of a man in a lab coat sitting at a desk

Vincent du Vigneaud, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, went on to a faculty position at Cornell University Medical School (above). (Getty Images)


1943 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Biochemist Henrick Dam for his discovery of vitamin K.

black and white photo of Henrick Dam

A member of the faculty in the 1940s, Henrick Dam was a corecipient of the 1944 Nobel Prize for work on vitamin K. (AP Photo)


1934 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

George Whipple, founding dean of School of Medicine and Dentistry for his work to develop a therapy for anemia.

four men in tuxedos

In an April 1935 photo, George Whipple (far right) is joined by other 1934 laureates H.C. Urey (chemistry) and George Minot and William Murphy, who shared the prize in medicine or physiology with Whipple. (AP Photo)

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