Mexican Chemist wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry!

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September 25, 2012 by rosaf15

When he was a young boy, he would spend endless hours playing with chemistry sets in a room he transformed into his own lab. Little did this young boy know that his love for chemistry and his scientific inquiries would allow him to make discoveries that would protect the environment, and one day make him famous.

Mario J. Molina was born in Mexico City on March 19, 1943 and attended elementary and high school in Mexico City. After finishing his undergraduate studies at the National University of Mexico (UNAM) he spent some years studying in Europe and then he returned to Mexico as an Assistant Professor at UNAM and was able to set up the first graduate program in chemical engineering. In 1968 Molina left Mexico to pursue his graduate studies in physical chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley. After completing his Ph.D. degree in 1972, Molina stayed at Berkeley and joined the group of Professor F. Sherwood as a postdoctoral fellow. Together, Sherwood and Molina studied Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s)—a group of chemicals used in spray cans, air conditioners, and other household items. After extensive research they developed the CFC-ozone depletion theory which suggested that the chlorine atoms from the CFC’s were destroying part of the ozone layer—the layer that filters out and protects earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Although these discoveries were alarming, few people including legislators and the news media did not believe the discoveries made by the scientist.

Years later, in 1987, countries from all over the world began to ban the use of CFCs. And in 1995, Molina and two other scientists won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their environmental discoveries. Molina donated $200,000 of his award to help young scientists around the world conduct research on the environment. Today, Molina is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston and is still searching for other ways he and other scientists can help the environment.

Since I was introduced to Mario Molina’s accomplishments in high school, I did not have difficulties trying to find information. Molina’s contributions to the American society and the entire world are well known, making it easier to find his research online and on other places.

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