Donna Strickland, one of the three Nobel laureates named to Vatican think tank

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In August, Pope Francis has named five new members to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, three of which have won Nobel prizes. 

Dr. Donna Strickland of Canada became the third woman to ever win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018 for her research in lasers. She says joining the so-called Vatican think tank is unique opportunity to collaborate with scientists from around the world. 

Nobel Laureate
“The exciting part of this particular academy is that it is truly international, most academies are academies of their nations. And so it is a chance for those of us to talk amongst ourselves across disciplines and across geography.”

The origins of the Pontifical Academy of Science date back to 1603 at the creation of the world's first exclusively scientific academy. Now it offers a valuable link between the world's leading scientists, the Church, and people of faith. 

Its membership is comprised of top-level academics, such as Stephen Hawking, who addressed the Academy in 2016.

Nobel Laureate
“There are people that are going to listen to the religious leaders rather than scientists, and so its important, and its important that the Roman Catholic Church is open to this, and has this scientific academy to be open to science and hear what we have to say.”

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences brings together and scientists from all disciples to discuss scientific solutions to the greatest challenges facing the world, such as one close to Pope Francis' heart: the environment. 

Nobel Laureate
“This Pope really is interested in the environment, and so many of us are. So you take the environment as one of the examples, it isn't one area of scientists that can work with it. The environment is everything, it's the ice it's the oceans, it's the air, biodiversity, so one kind of scientist can't possibly tackle that all on their own.'

Jennifer Doudna of the United States and Emmanuelle Charpentier of France are the two other Nobel laureates named to the Academy in August. Together they won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 for developing a method for genome editing.


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