On March 19, 2023, Google honored the life and work of Mario Molina with a Google Doodle on what would have been his 80th birthday. The Google Doodle featured an animated illustration of Molina, wearing his signature bowtie and glasses, surrounded by molecules and scientific instruments.
Google Doodle of environmental hero Mario Molina
The Google Doodle was a fitting tribute to Molina, who was known for his pioneering research on atmospheric chemistry and his contributions to the understanding of the impact of human activities on the environment. The illustration highlighted Molina’s role in discovering the impact of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) on the ozone layer, and his advocacy for policies that aimed to protect the Earth’s environment.
Who is Mario Molina
Mario Molina was a Mexican-American chemist who made significant contributions to our understanding of atmospheric chemistry and the impacts of human activities on the environment. Born on March 19, 1943, in Mexico City, Molina became one of the most prominent scientists of his generation, and his work continues to influence research and policy to this day.
Academic Career of Mario Molina
Molina began his academic career in Mexico, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1965. He then moved to the United States to pursue graduate studies, earning a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1972. After completing his doctoral work, Molina worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Irvine, where he began his pioneering research on the chemistry of the Earth’s atmosphere.
His Life and Environmental Activities
Molina’s work focused on the impact of human activities on the Earth’s ozone layer, which protects life on our planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation. In the early 1970s, Molina and his colleague F. Sherwood Rowland discovered that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a class of chemicals used in refrigeration and aerosol sprays, could break down the ozone layer. This discovery was groundbreaking and had significant implications for environmental policy, as CFCs were widely used in many consumer products at the time.
Mario Molina’s Research
Molina’s research on the impact of CFCs on the ozone layer led to the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, an international agreement that aimed to phase out the production and use of CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances. The Montreal Protocol is widely considered one of the most successful environmental agreements in history and has been instrumental in protecting the Earth’s ozone layer.
In recognition of his groundbreaking research, Molina was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, along with Rowland and Paul Crutzen, for their work on atmospheric chemistry. Molina was the first Mexican citizen to win the Nobel Prize in science, and his achievement inspired a generation of young scientists in Mexico and around the world.
In addition to his research on the ozone layer, Molina also made significant contributions to our understanding of air pollution in cities. He conducted pioneering studies on the chemistry of smog in Los Angeles and other urban areas, showing that nitrogen oxides from cars and trucks could react with other pollutants in the atmosphere to create dangerous levels of ozone and other harmful substances.
Molina’s research on air pollution and the ozone layer had significant policy implications, and he was a strong advocate for environmental protection throughout his career. He served as a scientific advisor to many government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, and was a vocal advocate for policies that aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the Earth’s environment.
Molina’s legacy continues to inspire scientists and policymakers today, as the world faces urgent environmental challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss. His groundbreaking research on atmospheric chemistry paved the way for a greater understanding of the impact of human activities on the environment, and his advocacy for environmental protection helped to shape environmental policy both in the United States and around the world.
In addition to his scientific achievements, Molina was also a beloved mentor and teacher, inspiring generations of young scientists to pursue careers in chemistry and environmental science. He was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, San Diego, and was known for his dedication to mentoring and supporting young scientists.
Sadly, Molina passed away on October 7, 2020, at the age of 77. His passing was mourned by scientists and policymakers around the world, who recognized his immense contributions to the field of atmospheric chemistry and his dedication to environmental protection.