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Mario J. Molina was born in Mexico City March 19, 1943. He attended the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). Though he was interested in physical chemistry, at the time the University did not offer the courses for the degree and so he studied chemical engineering obtaining his undergraduate degree in 1965. He attended the University of Frieberg and obtained the equivalent of a master's degree in 1967. Before continuing his graduate work Mario Molina returned to UNAM and helped establish the chemical engineering graduate program. But in 1968 he enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley and completed his Ph.D. in 1972.

In 1973 Dr. Molina joined F. Sherwood Rowland as a post-doc to conduct experiments on the effect of chemical pollutants on the upper atmosphere. They discovered that a particular type of pollutant, chloroflourocarbons (CFCs), when exposed to ultraviolet radiation would break apart and the chlorine would then chemically react to the ozone atoms in the upper atmosphere, effectively destroying our protection from dangerous ultraviolet radiation. For their work Molina, Sherwood and Paul Crutzen (who was independently working on the same problem) shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995. Their work led to the widespread banning of CFCs. Dr. Molina has worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1982-89) and held joint appointments at MIT in the Department of of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and the Department of Chemistry (1989-2004). In 2004 Mario Molina moved to San Diego with a joint appointment between the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry of UCSD and the Scripps Institute.His work now focuses on pollution in the lower atmosphere.

Mario Molina's life and works were highlighted as part of An Atmosphere of Change, an episode in the 1996 PBS series BreakThrough: The Changing Face of Science in America. He also wrote a brief autobiography which is archived as part of the Nobel Prize archives at (http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1995/molina-autobio.html), accessed 23 October 2007.

 

 

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