Mario Molina, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1995

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Mario José Molina-Pasquel Henríquez, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1995

Birthplace: Ciudad de México, DF, Mexico
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Occupation: Professor of physical chemistry
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About Mario Molina, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1995

Mario José Molina-Pasquel Henríquez (born March 19, 1943 in Mexico City) is a Mexican-born American 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. After completing his basic studies in Mexico City and 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.

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 18 honorary degrees and Asteroid 9680 Molina is named in his honor.

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.

See also: "Mario Molina - Autobiography".

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Mario Molina, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1995's Timeline

March 19, 1943
Ciudad de México, DF, Mexico