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USU Honorary Doctorate Recipient Mario Molina Receives Medal of Freedom

Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013

USU Honorary Degree Recipient Mario Molina

Visionary chemist and environmental scientist Mario Molina, who received an honorary doctorate from Utah State in 2002, is a 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. Photo courtesy UCSD.

2013 White House ceremony for Presidential Medal of Freedom

Molina, seated to the right of President Obama in this official White House photo, was among 16 men and women awarded the nation's highest civilian honor in a Nov. 20 ceremony. Photo by Pete Souza courtesy of the White House.

Visionary chemist Mario J. Molina, who was honored with an honorary doctorate from Utah State University in 2002, was among 16 people presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a Nov. 20 White House ceremony led by President Barack Obama.

“These are the men and women who in their extraordinary lives remind us all of the beauty of the human spirit, the values that define us as Americans, the potential that lives inside of all of us,” said the president of the recipients.

Molina, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, and director of the Mario Molina Center for Energy and the Environment, has been a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology since President Obama’s first term in office, and has served on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Molina received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his groundbreaking research into the depletion of the ozone layer, a phenomenon the Nobel committee termed “the Achilles heel of the universe.” The scientist’s fascination with science began early in his native Mexico, when the precocious youngster converted a seldom-used bathroom in the family home into a laboratory.  

“In addition to his impressive reputation as one of the finest scholars in the world, Mario is a very approachable colleague and a consummate gentleman,” says USU trustee professor Jim MacMahon, dean of USU’s College of Science. “It is wonderful to see such a deserving individual recognized with the nation’s highest civilian honor.”

This year’s ceremony marks the 50th anniversary of the medal, which was established by executive order by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. In addition to Molina, 2013 honorees are Ernie Banks, Ben Bradlee, President Bill Clinton, Daniel Kahneman, Richard Lugar, Loretta Lynn, Arturo Sandoval, Dean Smith, Gloria Steinem, C.T. Vivian, Patricia Wald and Oprah Winfrey and posthumous honorees Daniel Inouye, Sally Ride and Bayard Rustin.

Contact: James “Jim” MacMahon, 435-797-2478,

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

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