New CERN - Morocco student programme

7 September 2010

New ATLAS doctoral students Mohammed Gouighri and Sara Boutouil at a welcome ceremony with CERN Director General Rolf Heuer and the Hassan II Academy of Science and Technology's Secrétaire Perpétuel, Omar Fassi Fihri.

The first Moroccan doctoral student to benefit from a new funding programme, Mohamed Gouighri, is six weeks into a one-year stint at ATLAS. Moroccan groups, clustered into the 'Réseau Universitaire de Physique des Hautes Energies' have been members of the ATLAS Collaboration for over 10 years, and several PhD students have undertaken thesis work here, but Mohammed is the first to be given the opportunity to study at CERN full-time.

He arrived at the start of August to work under Guillaume Unal on an extension of a project he began on a two-month trip here back in 2008. On the hardware side, he is involved with the Liquid Argon cross talk correction and Trigger, and for his analysis he will work with B-physics, investigating the Bd meson to J/Ψ plus Kd data channel.

“This channel is one of the most important at the start,” Mohamed smiles. Indeed, the Bd peak started to appear in data just two weeks after his arrival in August.

This year at CERN will mark Mohamed's seventh year of studying physics (the previous six being spent at the Faculty of Science in Casablanca), and the final year of his PhD. “Normally I should be finishing now, but since I had this opportunity I decided to add one year,” he smiles.

Mohamed is the first student to benefit from a new 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, an agreement which ATLAS's Patrick Fassnacht was involved in orchestrating. Mohamed has been awarded a scholarship, funded by the Hassan II Academy of Science and Technology, in order to take up his post here.

He arrives two months ahead of ATLAS's second Moroccan student, Sara Boutouil, who will begin a four-month placement with ATLAS in October as part of her top quark PhD studies. The placement, part-funded by ATLAS, is facilitated by an exchange programme between France, Morocco and Sweden.

Mohamed is already throwing himself into CERN life, and vows to get as much as possible from his year here. “It's really something very important, to have all this; to meet people, to have help from other people,” he says, adding: “It's very easy to work here too, rather than for example in Morocco. It's like you're constantly in update frequency.”


Ceri Perkins

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