Mario Molina (1943 – 2020)

Mario Molina (1943 – 2020)

Author: (Photo:, wikimedia commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Professor Mario Molina, University of California, San Diego, USA, and Mario Molina Center for Strategic Studies in Energy and the Environment, Mexico City, Mexico, passed away on October 7, 2020.

Professor Molina received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 together with Paul J. Crutzen and F. Sherwood Rowland “for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone.” Molina and Rowland had demonstrated that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have a damaging effect on ozone in the atmosphere in 1974. To protect the Earth’s ozone layer, the production of such compounds has been phased out.

Mario Molina was born in Mexico City, Mexico, on March 19, 1943. He studied chemical engineering at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and polymerization kinetics at the University of Freiburg, Germany. He received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California (UC), Berkeley, USA, under the supervision of George C. Pimentel in 1972. He served as a Postdoctoral Associate at UC Berkeley in 1972–1973 and at University of California Irvine (UC Irvine), USA, in 1973–1975.

In 1975, Molina became Assistant Professor at UC Irvine and was promoted to Associate Professor there in 1979. From 1982 to 1989, he worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, USA. In 1989, Molina joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA, as Professor. From 2003 on, he was Director of the Mario Molina Center for Strategic Studies in Energy and the Environment and Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

In addition to the Nobel Prize and many other honors, Professor Molina has received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in 1989, the Willard Gibbs Award from the Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 1998, the Presidential Medal of Freedom of the United States of America in 2013, the Champions of the Earth Award from the United Nations in 2014, and many honorary doctorates.

He was a Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Academia Mexicana de Ingeniería, the European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, and the Academia Mexicana de Ciencias, an Honorary Member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), as well as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the American Physical Society (APS), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Selected Publications

Also of Interest

  • Sherwood Rowland (1927 – 2012),
    ChemViews Mag. 2012.
    Sherwood Rowland, winner of the Nobel Prize for his work showing that chlorofluorocarbons contribute to ozone depletion, died



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