Merieme Chadid was born in Casablanca on October 11, 1969. She developed an interest in astronomy from early teenage years after her brother gifted her a book about Johannes Kepler, a 17th century German astronomer and mathematician.
Her newfound interest led to her pursue studies in physics. In 1992, she earned her master’s degree in Physics from University of Hassan II in Casablanca. Four years later she obtained her Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse.
Not long after earning her Ph.D. she was recruited as a research engineer at the French National Center for Scientific Research.
Between 1998 and 2001 she was part of a successful mission to install the biggest telescope in the world in the driest and most hostile desert: The Atacama Desert in Chile.
In 2005, she became the first Moroccan woman to set foot in Antarctica. She planted a Moroccan flag to mark the achievement. It is the first Arab flag to ever be planted at the South Pole.
Chadid is renowned in her sphere for being the world’s first astronomer committed to installing telescopes for a new large astronomical observatory in Antarctica. Her work at the Dome C is one of her proudest accomplishments. She has described the work there as “one of the coldest, most deserted and inaccessible places in the world” and has compared the complexity of installing the observatory to the difficulty of space missions.
For her astounding achievements in science she was awarded the Arab woman of the year in 2015. She has also featured on Forbes magazine’s list of the thirty most interesting and fascinating workers in the world.
Merieme Chadid has been married to Jean Vernin, Director of Research of Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, since 31 March 2001 and has two children, Leyla Vernin and Felix Tycho Vernin.