Mario J. Molina, Ph.D.

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCSD
9500 Gilman Drive
City, State, Zip
La Jolla, CA 92093
Award Year


Project Details

Mario felt strongly that an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to human-induced global changes was required, but was stifled by the conventional research grant system. His Pew Fellowship provided the opportunity to pursue this interdisciplinary approach and to carrying out collaborative investigations, broadening his understanding of the atmosphere-biosphere interface. Specifically, Mario undertook a project developing a novel technique for the analysis and monitoring of atmospheric trace species. He also co-wrote a document on sustainable development for the President's Committee of Advisors in Science and Technology.


Mario Molina has been a world leader in developing our scientific understanding of the chemistry of the stratospheric ozone layer and its susceptibility to anthropogenic perturbations. His interests are common to the fields of atmospheric chemistry, chemical kinetics and photochemistry. Molina's research is directed at understanding the potential implications of changes in the chemical composition of the Earth's atmosphere, and aims to elucidate the role of aerosols and clouds in the changing chemistry of the global atmosphere.

In 1995, Molina shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with two co-investigators for their work in demonstrating the link between man-made chlorofluocarbons in the atmosphere and the damage to the ozone layer. His studies predicting an "ozone hole" laid the groundwork for its discovery in 1985 over the South Pole.

Molina's current research involves laboratory and modeling studies of chemical processes occurring on cloud particles, with an emphasis on stratospheric ozone depletion and pollution of the troposphere from combustion sources. His work includes the characterization of elementary gas-phase reactions as well as measuring chemical kinetics and photochemical parameters of heterogeneous chemistry of atmospheric importance. The species under investigation are of importance in the halogen, nitrogen, hydrogen and sulfur cycles, and in the photo-oxidation of hydrocarbons. Molina's academic goal is to better predict the extent of ozone depletion at northern latitudes, where an "ozone hole" might develop in this decade. He also leads a multi-disciplinary project involving integrated assessment of air pollution in megacities.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology



Ph.D., University of California
1972: Physical Chemistry, Berkeley, California, USA

Bachelor of Science, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
1965: Chemical Engineering, Mexico


MacArthur Foundation
Board of Directors

National Research Council, Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology

President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology

Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board


Sasakawa Environment Prize
1999: United Nations Environmental Programme

American Chemical Society Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science and Technology

Willard Gibbs Medal

Walker Prize

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Max Planck Research Award

Marine Fellow
1990: Pew Fellows Program in Conservation and the Environment

Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement
1989: NASA

Newcomb-Cleveland Prize
1987: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Esselen Award
1987: American Chemical Society

Tyler Environmental Prize


American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Chemical Society

American Physical Society

American Geophysical Union

Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society

Society for the Advancement of Chicano and Native American Scientists


  • Koop, T., H.P. Ng, L.T. Molina and M. J. Molina. 1998. A new optical technique to study aerosol phase transitions: The nucleation of ice from H2SO4 aerosols. J. Phys. Chem. 102:8924
  • Molina, M. J. 1998. The changing chemistry of the atmosphere: A challenge for the 21st Century. In: Chemical Research 2000 and Beyond: Challenges and Vision (P. Barkin ed.). American Chemical Society, Oxford University Press
  • Molina, M.J. and L.T. Molina. 1998. Chlorofluorocarbons and destruction of the ozone layer
  • Molina, M. J. 1996. Polar Ozone Depletion (Nobel Lecture). Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 35:1778
  • Molina, M. J., L.T. Molina and D.M. Golden. 1996. Environmental chemistry (gas and gas-solid interactions): The role of physical chemistry. J. Phys. Chem. 100:12888
  • Molina, M., J.A. Sgura and J. Marquez. 1995. Glutamine transport by vesicles isolated from tumour-cell mitochondrial inner membrane. Biochemical Journal 308(2): 629
  • Molina, M. 1988. The Antarctic ozone hole. Oceanus 31-47
  • Wofsy, S.C., M.J. Molina, R.J. Salawitch, L.E. Fox and M.B. McElroy. 1988. Interactions between HCl, NOx and H2O ice in the Antarctic stratosphere: Implications for ozone. Journal of Geophysical Research 93:2442