Spanish biochemist and administrator Federico Mayor Zaragoza, who on November 15 began a six-year term as director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, picks up the reins at a critical time for the institution. One challenge is to reverse Western nations’ sense of alienation from UNESCO, and to induce the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore, which withdrew from the organization in 1984-85, to return to the fold, adding their funding and talents to those of the 158 current member states. Another is to address spending and management problems that accumulated during the 13-year tenure of Mayor’s predecessor, Amadou Mahtar M’Bow of Senegal. To these and other tasks, Mayor brings a reservoir of international support: more than a hundred prominent world citizens, including 11 Nobel laureates in science, actively promoted his nomination. He also brings to his new post impressive credentials of his own in science...

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