Institute Professor Mario Molina is the co-winner of one of six $250,000 Heinz Awards in recognition of his work to raise awareness of the dangers of atmospheric pollution and global warming. He shares the award in the environment category with Professor John D. Spengler, director of the Environmental Science and Engineering Program at the Harvard School of Public Health.
The awards have been given since 1993 by the Heinz Family Foundation to recognize leadership and accomplishments in areas of interest to the late Sen. John Heinz. The awardees' "selflessness and perseverance, imagination and passion promise a healthier, more manageable and more hopeful way of life for all of us," said foundation chair Teresa Heinz, the senator's widow (now married to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry).
"Dr. Molina has played an active public role in creating awareness about his research [on understanding and mitigating the effects of air contamination] and advocating changes in public policy," the foundation said. "He continues to serve as a spokesman and lightning rod on issues related to atmospheric contamination and has encouraged the involvement of the business community as allies of reform. He used a portion of his Nobel monies to establish an endowed fellowship at MIT for foreign students to study atmospheric science."
Molina told The Boston Globe in a Feb. 12 article that he would use the money to further his research. "I'm trying to create institutes--possibly in Mexico City, but also in the United States--to deal with environmental issues. It's a small amount, given the problem, but it could be seed money in the same manner I used money from the Nobel Prize to establish scholarships," he said. Molina won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1995.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 5, 2003.