Noureddine Melikechi

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Noureddine Melikechi
Professor of Physics and Dean, Kennedy College of Sciences, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Member of the Mars Science Laboratory
Alma materUniversity Sciences and Technology Houari Boumediene
AwardsFellow of the Optical Society of America, NASA Group Achievement Award
Mars Science Laboratory, 2013
Arfken Scholar-in-Residence
Miami University, 2013
Academic Research Award
DE Bioscience Asso., 2012
Delaware Ambassador to Mars
The Honorable Jack Markell, Governor, 2011
Scientific career
FieldsAtomic, molecular, and optical physics
STEM education
InstitutionsUniversity of Massachusetts Lowell
Delaware State University
University of Miami, OH
Vassar College, NY
University of Delaware
University of Toulouse, France
Univ. Sciences and Technology Houari Boumediene, Algeria
Doctoral advisorProfessor Leslie Allen
Professor Edward E. Eyler

Noureddine Melikechi, D.Phil (born in 1958) is an atomic, molecular, and optical physicist, educator and inventor. He is the author of more than 125 peer-reviewed publications, three book chapters and 15 patents. Melikechi is a member of the Mars Science Laboratory, NASA’s largest Mars exploration effort to date.

Early years[edit]

Melikechi was born in 1958 in the town of Thénia, in the wilaya of Boumerdès, Algeria. After graduating from Thénia’s middle school, the young Noureddine left his town for the Lycee Abane Ramdane in El-Harrach, Algiers. There he received his Baccalaureate in Mathematics. He enrolled at the University Houari Boumediene of Sciences and Technology of Algiers where he earned a Diplôme d'Études Supérieures in Physics. He went on to pursue graduate work in England where he worked towards his Masters and Doctorate in the laboratory of Professor Leslie Allen on optical coherent control of electronic dipole transitions in sodium atoms.

Professional years[edit]

Upon graduating and following a postdoctoral research experience with Professor Allen, Melikechi joined the University of Sciences and Technology in Algiers as an Assistant Professor of Physics as part of his national service (1988-1990). Melikechi left Algeria for the USA in 1990 and joined the research group of Professor Edward E. Eyler[1] as a postdoctoral research fellow. With Dr. Eyler, Melikechi worked on multiphoton excitation schemes in atoms and molecules, precise pulsed laser spectroscopy of few-electron systems, the generation of vacuum ultraviolet laser radiation, the development of Fourier-transform limited laser pulses. In 1995, he was appointed Assistant Professor of physics at Delaware State University (DSU).

At DSU, Melikechi founded the Applied Optics Center of Delaware (AOC-DE), a center dedicated to research, education and innovation initially focused on nonlinear optics and laser spectroscopy in liquids. In 2006, he founded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology focused on optics. In 2009, this Center was fused with a NASA University Research Center to form the Optical Science Center for Applied Research (OSCAR).[2] Melikechi is also the principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – Maximizing Access for Research Careers and the DSU Idea Network for Biomedical Research programs.

Melikechi’s recent research is focused on two major two research projects: (1) Developing sensitive optical techniques for the early detection of cancers (with a focus on epithelial ovarian cancer and prostate cancer). This work brings together laser spectroscopy, nanochemistry, and cancer diagnosis and has potential impact on disease prevention; and (2) Analyzing laser induced breakdown spectra of Martian oils, dust and rocks. The data is collected through the Chemistry Camera (ChemCam) instrument on board the 1-ton Curiosity Rover launched on November 25, 2011 and landed successfully on the red planet on August 6, 2012.[3]


Melikechi is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards: DSU’s President’s Excellence in Research Awards (1998 and 2008), the 2005 SMART (Strengthening the Mid-Atlantic Region for Tomorrow) Capitol Hill Forum’s "Executive Directors Collaboration Award", an award he received "In recognition for continuing efforts to improve and increase Science and Technology collaboration among the technical community in the SMART Region and to further the growth and development of the SMART initiative", The Department of Defense Small Business Initiative for Research Award (1997), The National Institutes of Health Small Business Initiative for Research Award (2002), the 2010 DSU New Castle Chapter Alumina Award, The 2011 "Appreciation Award" from the National Federation of Canadian Muslims, the 2012 Biotechnology Award,[4] the NASA Group Award for his work on ChemCam.

In 2011, Governor Jack Markell of Delaware named Melikechi the "Delaware Ambassador to Mars" in recognition for his work on space science.[5] and in 2013, Melikechi was named the George and Carolyn Arfken Scholar in residence by Miami University, Oxford, OH.

Melikechi is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America.

Personal life[edit]

Melikechi's hobbies include walking, yoga, playing and watching soccer, and visiting new places. Melikechi loves listening to music particularly Chaabi, Hawzii, Kabyle, Berber, Andalous, World music and all "literate and thoughtful" songs. In addition, he enjoys cooking Mediterranean food, writing texts that no-one reads, reading novels, and looking for innovative solutions to problems.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 2016 - Fellow of the Optical Society of America
  • 2014 – Excellence Award for Youth Empowerment and Development in Africa, the "African Society for Engineering Management"
  • 2013 – NASA Group Achievement Award, Mars Science Laboratory ChemCam Instrument Development and Science Team, NASA
  • 2013 – Arfken Scholar-in-Residence, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
  • 2012 – International Science Award, US-Algerian Business Council
  • 2012 – Academic Research Award, the Delaware Bioscience Association
  • 2011 – Named Delaware's "Ambassador to Mars" by Delaware Governor, The Honorable Jack Markell
  • 2010 – Citizen of Science Award, El Moustakbel Youth Foundation, Algeria


  1. ^ Edward Eyler. "Edward Eyler | Department of Physics". Retrieved 2016-05-23.
  2. ^ "Welcome to OSCAR". Retrieved 2016-05-23.
  3. ^ Agence France Image. "ChemCam - Noureddine Melikechi". Retrieved 2016-05-23.
  4. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2016-05-23.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved April 14, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]