On 19 March, Google celebrates Doodle celebrates the 80th birthday of Dr. Mario Molina. He was a Mexican chemist who successfully convinced governments to come together to save the planet’s ozone layer. A co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Dr. Molina was one of the researchers who exposed how chemicals deplete Earth’s ozone shield, which is vital to protecting humans, plants, and wildlife from harmful ultraviolet light.
Life and Career
Dr. Molina (19 March 1943 – 7 October 2020) was born in Mexico City, Mexico. His father was a lawyer and diplomat who served as an ambassador to Ethiopia, Australia, and the Philippines. He was clear in his goal — pursue the goal in chemistry. As a child he converted a bathroom in his home, into his own little laboratory, using toy microscopes and chemistry sets. Molina received his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1965 and then earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1972. After completing his doctoral studies, he conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, Irvine, and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
In 1974, Molina joined the faculty at the University of California, Irvine, where he began his research on the chemistry of the Earth’s atmosphere. In 1974, he published a paper with F. Sherwood Rowland, which proposed that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in refrigeration and aerosol sprays were damaging the Earth’s ozone layer. This groundbreaking research led to the adoption of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, an international agreement that phased out the production of ozone-depleting substances.
Molina’s work on the ozone layer earned him numerous honors and awards, including the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, which he shared with Rowland and Paul Crutzen. He was the first Mexican-born citizen to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Molina also made significant contributions to other areas of atmospheric chemistry, including research on the effects of air pollution on urban environments and the chemistry of the stratosphere.
Throughout his career, Molina was committed to scientific outreach and education. He served on numerous advisory boards and was a vocal advocate for environmental protection and sustainability. Molina passed away on 7 October 2020, at the age of 77 due to a heart attack.
Award and legacy
Mario Molina’s groundbreaking work on the chemistry of the Earth’s atmosphere and the depletion of the ozone layer earned him numerous awards and honors throughout his career. In addition to the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, he was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2013.
Molina’s legacy goes beyond his scientific achievements. He was a passionate advocate for environmental protection and sustainability, and he dedicated much of his life to promoting science education and outreach. Molina was also a role model for young scientists and for underrepresented minorities in science. He was known for his kindness, humility, and generosity, and he inspired many people with his dedication to using science for the betterment of humanity.
In recognition of his contributions to science and society, numerous organizations and institutions have established awards and programs in Molina’s honor. These include the Mario Molina Fellowship Program, which supports young scientists from Mexico and Latin America, and the Mario Molina Center for Strategic Studies on Energy and the Environment, which promotes sustainable development and environmental protection in Mexico and beyond.
Overall, Molina’s work and legacy serve as a reminder of the power of science to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges and to inspire positive change in society.