Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown, in partnership with the California Museum, recently announced inductees of the 11th Class of the California Hall of Fame. Among the new members is Mario Molina, a University of California San Diego distinguished professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemisty and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Molina won the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Scripps Emeritus Professor Paul Crutzen, for research on the formation and decomposition of ozone. He and eight others will be inducted into the state’s hall of fame during an official ceremony in Sacramento at the California Museum on Dec. 5.
“It is extremely rewarding for me to be named to the California Hall of Fame among famous and notable individuals,” Molina said. “I will always remain very proud of receiving such an honor.”
Along with Molina, other inductees include: Steven Spielberg, filmmaker; Mabel McKay, artist-activist; Jim Plunkett, NFL quarterback; the late Lucille Ball, entertainer; Susan Desmond-Hellman, bioscientist; Gary Snyder, poet; Michael Tilson Thomas, musician and vintner Warren Winiarski. An exhibition featuring the lives and legacies of each new member will open Dec. 6 at the museum.
“These Californians represent the dynamic spirit and imagination that is the hallmark of the Golden State,” said Gov. Brown in a prepared statement. “Their exceptional skill and craft enrich our culture and inspire us all.”
Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 under Barack Obama, Molina is regarded as a visionary chemist and environmental scientist. He came to the U.S. from Mexico to pursue his graduate degree, and he was a professor at MIT before joining UC San Diego in 2004. In 2014, Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla presented Molina with the UC San Diego Medal, the highest honor the university bestows.
Molina’s research topics include gas phase chemical kinetics and photochemistry, chemistry of atmospheric aerosols and air pollution in megacities of the developing world. He considers his signature work to be the development of the science that predicted the threat to the ozone layer by human activities. He currently is on the research team at the Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and the Environment (CAICE), a National Science Foundation-supported center on campus.
According to Kim Prather, CAICE director and distinguished chair in atmospheric chemistry at UC San Diego, Molina is an inspiration who has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to finding fundamental solutions to fix environmental problems.
“After addressing issues related to the stratospheric ozone hole in the first part of his career, he is now working hard to tackle issues related to air pollution and climate change,” said Prather. “Mother Earth could not have a stronger supporter. We are all lucky to have someone like him to interact with and learn from at UC San Diego.”
As an educator, Molina has advised many Hispanic undergraduate and graduate students regarding their academic goals, as well as their options for future studies and employment. He is a member in the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, and he has presented lectures to groups consisting mainly of underrepresented students. He has also participated in various events involving academic honors and recognitions specifically awarded to members of minority groups.
Molina also serves as honorary co-chair of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Scholar Program, which awards scholarships and identifies mentors for thousands of highly motivated students in chemistry from underrepresented groups.
In line with the university’s goals, Molina said, “I hope I will be remembered as a scientist whose discoveries helped improve the quality of life of human beings."
Cynthia Dillon, 858-822-0142, firstname.lastname@example.org
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical, and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today on every continent and in every ocean. The institution has a staff of more than 1,400 and annual expenditures of approximately $195 million from federal, state, and private sources. Scripps operates oceanographic research vessels recognized worldwide for their outstanding capabilities. Equipped with innovative instruments for ocean exploration, these ships constitute mobile laboratories and observatories that serve students and researchers from institutions throughout the world. Birch Aquarium at Scripps serves as the interpretive center of the institution and showcases Scripps research and a diverse array of marine life through exhibits and programming for more than 430,000 visitors each year. Learn more at scripps.ucsd.edu and follow us at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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