Canadian physicist Donna Strickland collects Nobel Prize

University of Waterloo professor Donna Strickland has received her Nobel Prize in Physics during a ceremony Monday in Sweden.

Strickland is only the 3rd woman to win physics prize, and 1st Canadian woman

Physics laureate Donna Strickland, left, receives the prize from King Carl Gustaf of Sweden during the Nobel Prize award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, in Stockholm on Monday. (Pontus Lundahl/Pool Photo/The Associated Press)

Canadian Donna Strickland has received her Nobel Prize in Physics.

Strickland, a University of Waterloo professor, collected the award Monday in Sweden. The physicist learned she and two others had won one of science's highest honours in October.

The Nobel committee says Strickland and French scientist Gérard Mourou will each receive a quarter of the US$1.01 million prize for their joint work on laser physics.

Strickland's win makes her only the third woman to win the physics prize, and the first Canadian female scientist to do so.

Her prize-winning work was conducted in the early 1980s while she was completing her PhD under Mourou's supervision.

She and Mourou discovered chirped pulse amplification, a technique that underpins today's short-pulse, high-intensity lasers, which have become a key part of corrective eye surgeries.

The 59-year-old native of Guelph, Ont., made the discovery while completing her PhD at the University of Rochester in New York.

The other half of the prize went to Arthur Ashkin of the United States, who was the third winner of the award.

Donna Strickland speaks during her Nobel Lecture, Generating High-Intensity Ultrashort Optical Pulses, at the Aula Magna, Stockholm's University, on Saturday. (Christine Olsson/TT News Agency/The Associated Press)

University 'electric' since announcement

Nick Manning, the associate vice president of communications at the University of Waterloo, said the atmosphere on campus has been "electric" since the award was announced.

"Universities around the world would dream of receiving a Nobel Prize amongst their professoriate and so obviously this is a huge moment for a young university like ours to celebrate with our Nobel Prize winner and to mark this historic moment," he said.

The university held a viewing party for the ceremony, cheering loudly as a smiling Strickland was handed the prize.

The school is also marking Strickland's achievement with a special reserved parking space on campus. The gesture is inspired by a tradition at the University of California in Berkeley.

"Nothing is more hotly contested at the University of Waterloo than parking spots, and so I think it's only fitting that a Nobel Prize winner is assured a prime parking spot on our campus," Manning said. 

Strickland had the title of associate professor when she won the prize. Later in October, she revealed she had been made a full professor at the university.

Physics 2018 Nobel laureate Donna Strickland, left, and Chemistry 2018 Nobel laureate Frances H. Arnold during the Nobel Prize award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, in Stockholm on Monday. (Henrik Montgomery/Pool Photo/The Associated Press)

With files from Robin De Angelis