Mario J. Molina
March 19, 1943 |
Mexico City, Mexico
|Institutions||UC San Diego, UC Irvine, JPL at Caltech, and MIT|
|Alma mater||National Autonomous University of Mexico, Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg, University of California, Berkeley|
|Doctoral advisor||George C. Pimentel |
|Known for||Researched the threat of CFCs to the ozone layer in the stratosphere.|
|Notable awards||Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (1983), NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (1989), Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1995), UN Environment Programme Sasakawa Environment Prize (1999), The 9th Annual Heinz Award in the Environment (2003), The Volvo Environment Prize (2004).|
Mario José Molina-Pasquel Henríquez (born March 19, 1943 in Mexico City) is a Mexican chemist and one of the most prominent precursors to the discovering of the Antarctic ozone hole. He was a co-recipient (along with Paul J. Crutzen and F. Sherwood Rowland) of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his role in elucidating the threat to the Earth's ozone layer of chlorofluorocarbon gases (or CFCs), becoming the first Mexican-born citizen to ever receive a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Molina is the son of Roberto Molina Pasquel, a lawyer and diplomat who went on to serve as chief Ambassador to Ethiopia, Australia and the Philippines in 1923, and Leonor Henríquez de Molina. As a child he converted a bathroom into his own little laboratory, using toy microscopes and chemistry sets. He also looked up to his aunt Esther Molina, who was a chemist, and who helped him with his experiments.
After completing his basic studies in Mexico City and at the Institut auf dem Rosenberg in Switzerland he earned a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1965, a postgraduate degree from the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg, West Germany, in 1967 and a doctoral degree in Chemistry from University of California, Berkeley in 1972. Molina married fellow chemist Luisa Y. Tan in July 1973. In the fall of 1973, they moved to Irvine, California,
In 1974, as a postdoctoral researcher at UC Irvine, he and Rowland co-authored a paper in the journal Nature highlighting the threat of CFCs to the ozone layer in the stratosphere. At the time, CFCs were widely used as chemical propellants and refrigerants. Initial indifference from the academic community prompted the pair to hold a press conference at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Atlantic City in September 1974, in which they called for a complete ban on further releases of CFCs into the atmosphere. Skepticism from scientists and commercial manufacturers persisted, however, and a consensus on the need for action only began to emerge in 1976 with the publication of a review of the science by the National Academy of Sciences. This led to moves towards the worldwide elimination of CFCs from aerosol cans and refrigerators, and it is for this work that Molina later shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Between 1974 and 2004 he variously held research and teaching posts at UC Irvine, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he held a joint appointment in the Department of Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and the Department of Chemistry. On July 1, 2004 Molina joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at University of California, San Diego and the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Molina is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and The National College of Mexico. He serves on the boards of several environmental organizations and also sits on a number of scientific committees including the U.S. President's Committee of Advisors in Science and Technology, the Institutional Policy Committee, the Committee on Global Security and Sustainability of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Mario Molina Center. He also served on the board of trustees for Science Service, now known as Society for Science & the Public, from 1999-2006. He has also received more than 30 honorary degrees and Asteroid 9680 Molina is named in his honor. In 2003 he was one of 21 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.
Molina divorced Luisa Tan Molina and married his second wife, Guadalupe Álvarez, in February 2006. His only son works as a physician in Boston. Molina had been assigned by U.S. President Barack Obama to form part of the transition team on environmental issues.
Molina was one of 20 Nobel Laureates who signed the "Stockholm Memorandum" at the 3rd Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability in Stockholm, Sweden on 18 May 2011.
His discovery 
Molina joined the lab of Professor F. Sherwood Rowland in 1973 as a postdoctoral fellow. Here, Molina continued Rowland's pioneering research into "hot atom" chemistry, which is the study of chemical properties of atoms with excess translational energy owing to radioactive processes. This study soon led to research into chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which had been accumulating in the atmosphere. Rowland and Molina had investigated other compounds similar to CFCs before, and together they developed the CFC ozone depletion theory. Molina tried to figure out how CFCs might be destroyed in the lower atmosphere, but nothing seemed to work. He and Rowland knew that if CFCs released into the atmosphere do not decay by other processes, they continually rise to higher altitudes until they are destroyed by solar radiation. They discovered that chlorine atoms, produced by the decomposition of CFCs, catalytically destroy ozone. Rowland and Molina published their findings in Nature on June 28, 1974, and also made an effort to announce their findings outside of the scientific community, informing policy makers and the news media of their work. Attesting to the continuing importance of their discovery, to this day there are still laws that protect the ozone layer by regulating the use of CFCs.
He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Science.
He also won the 1987 Esselen Award of the Northeast section of the American Chemical Society, the 1988 Newcomb-Cleveland from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the 1989 NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Advancement, and the 1989 United Nations Environmental Programme Global 500 Award.
In 1990, the Pew Charitable Trusts Scholars Program in Conservation and the Environment honored him as one of the ten environmental scientists and awarded him a 150,000 dollar grant.
He received the 1998 Willard Gibbs Medal by the Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society and the 1998 American Chemical Society Prize for Creative Advances in Environment Technology and Science
Honorary degrees 
- Yale University (1997)
- Duke University (2009)
- Harvard University (2012)
- Mexican Federal Universities: National of Mexico (1996), Metropolitana (2004), Chapingo (2007), National Polytechnic (2009)
- Mexican State Universities: Hidalgo (2002), State of Mexico (2006), Michoacan (2009), Guadalajara (2010), San Luis Potosi (2011)
- U.S. Universities: Miami (2001), Florida International (2002), Tufts (2003), Southern Florida (2005), Claremont Graduate (announced 2013)
- U.S. Colleges: Connecticut (1998), Trinity (2001), Washington (2011), Whittier (2012)
- Canadian Universities: Calgary (1997), Waterloo (2002), British Columbia (2011)
- European Universities: East Anglia (1996), Alfonso X (2009), Complutense of Madrid (2012), Free of Brussels (2010),
- Molina, Mario (2007). "Autobiography". The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2008-05-30.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (October 11, 1995). "MIT's Mario Molina wins Nobel Prize in chemistry for discovery of ozone depletion". Retrieved 2008-05-31.
- The Heinz Awards, Mario Molina profile
- Volvo Environment Prize
- García Hernández, Arturo (1995-10-12). "Ojalá que mi premio estimule la investigación en México". La Jornada (in Spanish). "Mario Molina, primer mexicano que obtiene el premio Nobel de Química..."
- (Nobel Lectures in Chemistry (1991-1995)). (1997). World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte.Ltd. River Edge, NJ. P 245-249.
- "Bilan Magazine". Retrieved 15 April 2013.
- Mario Molina and FS Rowland (28 June 1974). "Stratospheric Sink for Chlorofluoromethanes: Chlorine Atom-Catalysed Destruction of Ozone". Nature 249. pp. 810–2. doi:10.1038/249810a0.
- Jet Propulsion Laboratory Small-Body Database Browser. "9680 Molina (3557 P-L)". Retrieved 2008-05-30.
- "Notable Signers". Humanism and Its Aspirations. American Humanist Association. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- "Stockholm Memorandum," Nobel-cause.de, 2011
- Oakes, Elizabeth. (2002). A to Z of Chemists. Facts on File Inc. New York, New York. P 143-145.
- "History of the Willard Gibbs Medal".
- "ACS Award in Environment".
- "Honorary degrees by Yale".
- "Honorary degrees granted by Duke in 2009".
- "Honorary degrees granted by Harvard in 2012".
- "Honorary Doctorate by Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Hidalgo (spanish)".
- "Honorary Doctorate by Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico (spanish)".
- "Honorary Doctorate by Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo (spanish)".
- "Honorary Doctorate by Universidad de Guadalajara (spanish)".
- "Honorary Doctorate by Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi (spanish)".