Published: Nov. 3, 2011

University of Colorado Boulder Distinguished Professor Margaret Murnane has been awarded Ireland's top science award, the RDS Irish Times Boyle Medal for Scientific Excellence, for her pioneering work that has transformed the field of ultrafast laser and X-ray science.

Murnane is a professor of physics and fellow of JILA, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Her research focuses on developing lasers that can operate at the fundamental limits of speed and stability. She also has paved the way for scientists to build a tabletop X-ray laser that could be used for super high-resolution imaging, while also giving scientists a new way to peer into a single cell and gain a better understanding of the nanoworld. Both of these feats could lead to major breakthroughs in many fields including medicine, biology and nanotechnology development.

Created in 1899 and presented by the Royal Dublin Society and The Irish Times, the Boyle Medal for Scientific Excellence recognizes scientific research of exceptional merit and since its inception has been awarded to 38 distinguished scientists. Given biennially, the award recognizes scientists based in Ireland or Irish scientists working abroad. Murnane was born in Limerick, Ireland, and is a graduate of University College Cork.

Murnane is only the second woman to receive the award. The other was Phyllis E. M. Clinch, who was recognized in 1961 for her study of degenerative diseases in potato plants.

Describing why they chose Murnane for the award, the 2011 Royal Dublin Society Irish Times Boyle Medal International Judging Panel said: "Margaret Murnane is an international leader in her field and has made a significant contribution to laser and X-ray science. Not only is her fundamental research groundbreaking in itself, the application of her work has the potential to make a significant impact across virtually all scientific and medical disciplines."

Murnane will receive her medal and give a public lecture Nov. 29 in Dublin. For more information visit


Margaret Murnane