Distinguished lecture series in Physics


The Fall 2021 Distinguished Lecture Series in Physics
is postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The UW-La Crosse Distinguished Lecture Series in Physics (DLS) is co-sponsored by the UW-La Crosse Foundation, the Department of Physics, the College of Science and Health, and Wettstein's.  The purpose of the series is to bring to La Crosse each year a world-renowned physicist whose significant accomplishments can inspire and enrich the lives and careers of students, faculty, and the community in general.  

Date:  TBD
Speaker:  Gérard Mourou, Ph.D.

Gérard Mourou

Gérard Mourou is Professor Haut-Collège at the École polytechnique in Palaiseau, France.  He is also the A.D. Moore Distinguished University Emeritus Professor of the University of Michigan.  He received his undergraduate education at the University of Grenoble (1967) and his Ph.D. from University Paris VI in 1973.  He has made numerous contributions to the field of ultrafast lasers, high-speed electronics, and medicine.  But his most important invention, demonstrated with his student Donna Strickland while at the University of Rochester (New York), is the laser amplification technique known as Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA), universally used today.  

CPA revolutionized the field of optics, opening new branches like attosecond pulse generation, Nonlinear QED, and compact particle accelerators.  It extended the field of optics to nuclear and particle physics.  In 2005, Prof. Mourou proposed a new infrastructure, the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI), which is distributed over three pillars located in the Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary.  Prof. Mourou also pioneered the field of femtosecond ophthalmology that relies on a CPA femtosecond laser for precise myopia corrections and corneal transplants.  Over a million such procedures are now performed annually.

Prof. Mourou is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and a foreign member of the Russian Science Academy, the Austrian Sciences Academy, and the Lombardy Academy for Sciences and Letters.  He is Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur and was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics with his former student Donna Strickland.


An extreme-light laser is a universal source which provides a vast range of high-energy radiation and particles along with the highest field, pressure, temperature and acceleration produced to date. It offers the possibility to shed light on some of the remaining unanswered questions in fundamental physics, like the genesis of cosmic rays with energies in excess of 1020 eV or the loss of information in blackholes. Using wake-field acceleration some of these fundamental questions could be studied in the laboratory. In addition, extreme light makes possible the study of the structure of vacuum and particle production in "empty" space, which is one of the field’s ultimate goals, reaching into the fundamental QED (quantum electrodynamics) and possibly QCD (quantum chromodynamics) regimes.

Looking beyond today’s intensity horizon, Dr. Mourou will introduce a new concept that could make possible the generation of attosecond-zeptosecond (10-18 – 10-21 seconds) high-energy coherent light pulses (de facto in the X-ray domain), opening up the Schwinger level [the zettawatt (1021 Watts) and PeV (1015 eV) regime]; the next chapter of laser-matter interaction.

Date:  TBD
Speaker:  Didier Queloz, Ph.D.

Didier QuelozDidier Queloz is a professor at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, as well as a professor at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.  He was a co-recipient of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics.