Mario Molina has earned a major presidential honor…
The 70-year-old Mexican chemist and environmental scientist has been named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Molina, the first Mexican-born citizen to ever receive a Nobel Prize in chemistry, joins a list of 16 individuals that includes jazz musician Arturo Sandoval, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, veteran Washington Post journalist Ben Bradlee, former President Bill Clinton and country singer Loretta Lynn.
The award established 50 years ago by President John F. Kennedy is the country’s highest civilian honor given to Americans who’ve made contributions “to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Molina, one of the most prominent precursors to the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, has received several awards and honors throughout his career, sharing the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Paul J. Crutzen for their discovery of the role of chlorofluorocarbon gases (CFCs) in ozone depletion.
Molina had been assigned by President Barack Obama to form part of the transition team on environmental issues.
He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Science.
This year’s other honorees include: baseball player Ernie Banks, Senator Daniel Inouye (posthumous), Nobel Prize-winning scholar Daniel Kahneman, Senator Richard Lugar, astronaut Sally Ride (posthumous), civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (posthumous), ex-UNC basketball coach Dean Smith, Gloria Steinem, civil rights leader Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian, and Judge Patricia Wald.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours,” said President Obama. “This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation’s gratitude.”