Students meet Nobel Laureate

School students from across Adelaide attended a special breakfast session with Nobel Laureate Professor Donna Strickland during the 24th Australian Institute of Physics (AIP) Congress at the Adelaide Convention Centre this month.

The 34 high school students and their teachers from Mitcham Girls High School, Nazareth Catholic College, the Australian Science and Mathematics School, St Peters Girls’ School, Woodcroft College and Mary MacKillop College were invited to ‘A Conversation with Nobel Laureate Professor Donna Strickland’.

Professor Strickland, left, and Professor Maria Parappilly, who is a chief investigator of the STEM Enrichment Academy and founder of STEM Women Branching Out at Flinders University. Photo: Laura Vanags Photography.

The schoolgirls, selected from the STEM Enrichment partner schools, joined Professor Strickland on stage on 13 December to ask a series of questions about her career in physics and more.

“They asked great questions,” says Flinders Professor of Physics Maria Parappilly, director of the STEM Enrichment Academy and AIP Fellow. “In fact, they ran the breakfast show. Professor Strickland told me that the girls asked some great questions.”

Professor Strickland developed chirped pulse amplification (CPA) with Gérard Mourou, her doctoral supervisor while at the University of Rochester. CPA enables the most intense laser pulses ever and the research has led to tools with applications in medicine, industry, science, the military and security.

Professor Strickland is one of only four women from a total of 215 Nobel physics laureates.

More than 1000 congress attendees from Australia, New Zealand and around the world took part in the week-long event.

Flinders University also sponsored a male Year 10 high school student –  Steven Girgis, from Prescott Southern School – to attend the entire congress.


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College of Science and Engineering