CERN welcomes its first doctoral students from Morocco

This year marks the start of a new phase between CERN and Morocco with the arrival of the first two Moroccan students.


Mohamed Gouighri and Sara Boutouil, the first two Moroccan students at CERN.

Thanks to the efforts of a small group of Moroccan academics, Morocco has been participating in the LHC programme for over ten years. About ten Moroccan physicists are members of the ATLAS collaboration, which comprises over 2000 physicists and 165 research institutes from 37 different countries. The arrival of the first Moroccan doctoral students at CERN was the logical next step.

The new programme is the result of a multi-party agreement between CERN, the Sharing Knowledge Foundation, the Moroccan universities participating in the LHC programme and the Hassan II Academy of Science and Technology.

Mohamed Gouighri is the first Moroccan to obtain a scholarship to study at CERN, which is being funded by the Hassan II Academy of Science and Technology. He has been studying physics at the Faculty of Science in Casablanca for the last 6 years. "I came to CERN on a placement in 2008 but it was only for a short period. It was my dream to be able to stay here for longer and today it's come true", says Mohamed.

Mohamed had to compete with several other candidates for the scholarship. He and four other applicants were pre-selected and were assessed by an international committee in March this year. Mohamed's application was subsequently approved by the local CERN committee. He becomes the first Moroccan student to be given the opportunity to do his PhD within the ATLAS collaboration. "I would love to be able to continue to work with CERN once I've completed my PhD as it's the perfect place for physicists. It's a great honour to be the first Moroccan doctoral student at CERN", says Mohamed.

Sara Boutouil, who is currently in her fourth year at the Mohamed I University in Oujda (North East Morocco), is doing a thesis in top-quark physics. As part of an exchange programme between Morocco, France and Sweden, organised in the framework of an LIA (International Associated Laboratory) agreement, the Laboratoire de Physique Corpusculaire of Clermont-Ferrand (part of the Blaise Pascal University) is sending Sara to CERN for a 4-month placement in the ATLAS group. At the same time, the ATLAS group at CERN has offered to fund her data analysis work for 2 months (October and November). "I had been trying to get a placement at CERN for a long time, so I'm really delighted", says Sara.

The students regard the CERN scholarships as springboards to a future career in science and an excellent opportunity to establish contacts with other young people from all over the world. We hope that they will make the most of their experience at CERN and that the knowledge they gain here will benefit them throughout their future careers.




by Laëtitia Pedroso