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Molina Leaving MIT To Establish Center On the Environment

By Julian Villarreal


Nobel Prize-winning Institute Professor Mario Molina will leave MIT this summer to join the faculty of the University of California at San Diego.

He cited personal reasons as well as a desire to re-focus his work on environmental policy issues as reasons for his departure.

Molina moves closer to his work

Molina, a native of Mexico and a professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and the Department of Chemistry, said that his extensive work on environmental issues in Mexico made a move to UCSD attractive.

He said that his environmental science projects in Mexico have put him in a position in which he spends “too much time travelling.”

“It’s a very hard thing to do,” he said, referring to his exhaustive travel schedule.

He said that moving to UCSD would afford him greater proximity to his native Mexico and afford his work more efficiency.

Molina added that it was “an exceeding difficult decision” to leave MIT.

“MIT has treated me very, very well,” Molina said, citing specifically his collaborative work, which he characterized as “very productive.”

EAPS regrets loss

Chair of the Faculty Rafael L. Bras, also a friend and colleague of Molina, said, “Mario is a good friend of mine, and it’s sad to see him go ... He’s an extraordinary colleague and citizen of MIT.”

Bras praised Molina for his “generosity and intellectual power.” He said Molina’s situation of travelling to and from MIT frequently is “not uncommon with many MIT professors.”

“MIT tries it’s darnedest to keep it’s people, but, in the end, it’s a personal decision” to leave, Bras said. “Mario and [his wife] Luisa will be missed,” he said.

Fellow EAPS professor, Ronald G. Prinn, said that Molina’s departure, “is a large blow to our department.”

“He [and] Luisa Molina ... will be sorely missed by me, personally, and by their colleagues across the campus,” he said.

“We will need to work very hard to recover from this if MIT is to maintain its outstanding reputation in environmental science,” he added. “I am confident that we can do that.”

UCSD offers new opportunities

Molina mentioned that, once at UCSD, he will establish a center for energy and environmental issues.

By leaving MIT, Molina said that he will concentrate less on “basic science and laboratory research” and more on the impact of that research and on communicating science and policy to governments in developing countries.

He mentioned some of the policy issues he intends to work on include “air quality issues, water pollution, and energy usage and its effects on the environment.”