Atmospheric Chemist, Nobel Laureate

Mario Molina

Though his family consisted primarily of lawyers, they accepted his passion for chemistry. However, it was his aunt, a chemist, who helped cultivate this passion. Mario was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work in atmospheric chemistry and the decomposition of ozone.

Mario received his B.S. in engineering at National University of Mexico and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, Dr. Molina has a joint appointment with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego and the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His research involves laboratory and field studies aimed at better understanding the effects of human activities on the atmosphere. Mario works closely with the Mexico City government to develop regulations to effectively address the city’s air quality problems. He explains, “Chemistry plays a fundamental role in understanding the air pollution problem in Mexico City, but it is necessary to consider social, economic, and political issues as well to alleviate the problem.”

Mario works hard to increase minority—especially Hispanic— participation in chemistry. To accomplish this, he provides his graduate and postdoctoral students with true connections to issues that may affect their lives. To Mario, teaching and research are complementary and mutually reinforcing activities.

In addition to his busy career, Mario remains active with ACS. He attends ACS annual meetings, organizes and participates in symposia, and participates with diversity activities. He explains, “ACS membership and participation are truly valuable to me. Membership keeps me in touch with my peers and aware of exciting research.”

While other children were playing ball, Mario Molina was reading biographies of famous scientists and playing with chemistry sets.