CHESTERTOWN, MD—A Nobel-Prize winning chemist who was one of the first researchers to discover the threat that chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, pose to the earth’s ozone layer will speak at a special convocation at Washington College Thursday, November 3. Mario J. Molina will also receive an honorary doctor of science degree at the event, which culminates the College’s celebration of the International Year of Chemistry. The convocation is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. in Decker Theatre, inside the Gibson Center for the Arts on campus, 300 Washington Avenue. It also will include the installation of the first faculty member to hold the Frank J. Creegan Chair in Green Chemistry.
Mario Molina shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his role in discovering the detrimental effect of CFCs on the stratosphere, especially the formation of the Antarctic Ozone Hole. The research he conducted with colleagues in the mid-1970s led the United States to ban the use of CFCs in aerosol cans and prompted a global initiative called the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, an international treaty now signed by 196 countries that are legally obligated to phase out ozone depleting substances by agreed-upon dates. His Nov. 3 address is titled “Chemistry and Climate Change.”
After a successful career at the University of California, Irvine, The Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Cal-Tech, and MIT, Molina returned to his native Mexico City in 2004 to establish the Mario Molina Center for Strategic Studies in Energy and the Environment, which focuses on issues where public policy and environmental health intersect. In addition to serving as the Molina Center’s director, he holds joint appointments in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego and the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He also serves on President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
In a profile for the journal Nature last fall, writer Jeff Tollefson described Molina as an influential celebrity in his native country. “Cab drivers have heard of him. Political leaders seek his advice. Strangers often shake his hand in a mixture of congratulations and thanks,” Tollefson wrote. “Such is the fame of Mario Molina, the 67-year-old chemist who has become something of a national icon in his hometown of Mexico City.”
While at Washington College, Molina will join students from the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program at Kent County High School for a luncheon sponsored by LaMotte Company, the Chestertown-based manufacturer of tools and test kits for analyzing water, soil and air. The Director of the Education Division of the American Chemical Society will serve as emcee at the luncheon.
At the Convocation where Molina will speak, Washington College will officially invest associate professor of chemistry Anne E. Marteel-Parrish as the first holder of the Frank J. Creegan Chair in Green Chemistry. The second such chair to be established in the United States, it was endowed last spring with a $2 million gift from an anonymous donor in recognition of Professor Creegan’s 40-year service to the College and his longstanding development and oversight of the chemistry program.
Photos: Top, Mario Molina will receive an honorary degree and deliver a talk on Chemistry and Climate Change. Middle, Anne Marteel-Parrish will be installed as the first holder of the Frank J. Creegan Chair in Green Chemistry, established in honor of the man who taught at the College for 40 years, bottom.