MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Diane Ainsworth
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEJune 26, 1998
JPL SCIENTIST NAMED UNESCO GOODWILL AMBASSADOR TO AFRICA
Dr. Cheick Diarra, who oversees educational outreach efforts
for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Exploration Program
Office, has been designated the 19th goodwill ambassador of the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) to the continent of Africa.
His appointment was announced May 12 by UNESCO Director
General Federico Mayor and represents several firsts in the
organization's 50-year history of promoting collaboration among
nations through education, science, culture and communication.
Diarra, who was born in Mali, West Africa, is the first
ambassador originally from Africa, the first from the sciences
and the first American citizen to hold the post.
In his role as an ambassador for science and technology
education, Diarra, who holds a doctorate in mechanical
engineering from Howard University, Washington, DC, will be
working toward establishing a university in Africa with a strong
science curriculum. He also will be involved in efforts to raise
public awareness of the importance of science and mathematics to
global peace and technological advancement.
Diarra joins other UNESCO ambassadors such as actress
Catherine Deneuve, Brazilian soccer star Pele and French musician
Jean-Michel Jarre in their efforts to enrich the educational,
scientific and cultural fabric of the global community.
He joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA in
1988 as a mission designer. He has calculated the spacecraft
trajectories of such flight projects as the Magellan mission to
Venus, the Ulysses mission to the poles of the Sun, the Galileo
mission to Jupiter and the Mars Observer mission. Diarra also
worked as navigator on the Mars Pathfinder mission design team.
Currently he manages the Mars Exploration Program Office's
educational and public outreach efforts, and is working on
international collaboration for future missions to Mars.
Diarra and his wife, Assa, live in Altadena, CA, and have