Brainy Quote of the Day

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mario J. Molina...

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1995
Paul J. Crutzen, Mario J. Molina, F. Sherwood Rowland

Mario J. Molina

Born: 19 March 1943, Mexico City, Mexico

Affiliation at the time of the award: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA

Prize motivation: "for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone"

Field: Atmospheric and environmental chemistry

I attended elementary school and high school in Mexico City. I was already fascinated by science before entering high school; I still remember my excitement when I first glanced at paramecia and amoebae through a rather primitive toy microscope. I then converted a bathroom, seldom used by the family, into a laboratory and spent hours playing with chemistry sets. With the help of an aunt, Esther Molina, who was a chemist, I continued with more challenging experiments along the lines of those carried out by freshman chemistry students in college. Keeping with our family tradition of sending their children abroad for a couple of years, and aware of my interest in chemistry, I was sent to a boarding school in Switzerland when I was 11 years old, on the assumption that German was an important language for a prospective chemist to learn. I remember I was thrilled to go to Europe, but then I was disappointed in that my European schoolmates had no more interest in science than my Mexican friends. I had already decided at that time to become a research chemist; earlier, I had seriously contemplated the possibility of pursuing a career in music - I used to play the violin in those days. In 1960, I enrolled in the chemical engineering program at UNAM, as this was then the closest way to become a physical chemist, taking math-oriented courses not available to chemistry majors.

After finishing my undergraduate studies in Mexico, I decided to obtain a Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry. This was not an easy task; although my training in chemical engineering was good, it was weak in mathematics, physics, as well as in various areas of basic physical chemistry - subjects such as quantum mechanics were totally alien to me in those days. At first I went to Germany and enrolled at the University of Freiburg. After spending nearly two years doing research in kinetics of polymerizations, I realized that I wanted to have time to study various basic subjects in order to broaden my background and to explore other research areas. Thus, I decided to seek admission to a graduate program in the United States. While pondering my future plans, I spent several months in Paris, where I was able to study mathematics on my own and I also had a wonderful time discussing all sorts of topics, ranging from politics, philosophy, to the arts, etc., with many good friends. Subsequently, I returned to Mexico as an Assistant Professor at the UNAM and I set up the first graduate program in chemical engineering. Finally, in 1968 I left for the University of California at Berkeley to pursue my graduate studies in physical chemistry.

Nobel Prize:

Biographical, Nobel Lecture, Interview (32 minutes)

No comments:

Post a Comment