Ont. woman with same name as Nobel prize winner shocked by 'sudden fame'
Donna Strickland woke up to a strange Facebook friend request on Tuesday morning.
A journalist in Toronto wanted to talk to her. Strickland at first ignored the request, but the woman persisted: she wanted know more about her Nobel prize win.
Strickland was dumbfounded, until she checked the news and realized that another Donna Strickland, a University of Waterloo professor, had just been announced as one of the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics.
And the Facebook messages just kept coming.
“I turned on my phone and it was just like, ‘ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding,’” Strickland, a 62-year-old Cambridge, Ont., resident, told CTVNews.ca on Wednesday.
“I’ve got messages from all over…people who want to congratulate and thank her.”
Strickland said she’s received dozens of friend requests and messages from scientists, engineers, medical professionals and students, among others – all of them wrongly believing they were contacting Donna Strickland, the 59-year-old Nobel laureate.
Some of the friend requests came from as far away as Peru, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates.
“I’m enjoying this sudden fame but it’s very exhausting,” Strickland said with a laugh. “Now I feel like I’m her secretary.”
Strickland wondered if other women with the same name were also getting messages intended for the professor and scientist who helped discover the technique behind high-intensity, short-pulse lasers that are now used in corrective laser eye surgery, among other applications.
“It’s such a wonderful accomplishment,” Strickland said of her name twin.
Strickland, who says she flunked science in high school, would like to meet the professor one day.
“I’m glad that she’s using our name in such a good way. Kudos to her -- wow.”