There's no question these are interesting times for French science. In the midst of a long campaign against unpopular government policies, the research community now has to come to terms with a couple of new ministers.

Earlier this week, after a serious blow in regional elections, French President Jacques Chirac told his embattled prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, to re-form his government. As part of the restructuring, Raffarin appointed François Fillon new minister of higher education and research. François d'Aubert will take over from Claudie Haigneré as delegated minister of research, reporting to Fillon.

Both Fillon and d'Aubert have previously been attached to the Ministry of Research. D'Aubert was deputy minister of research from 1995 to 1998, whereas Fillion was minister of higher education and research from 1993 to 1995.

From their predecessors, they inherit a crisis situation. Researchers across the country are expected to enforce a “selective administrative...

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