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Rowland Papers Gift to Special Collections

Rowland, F.S., and Mario Molina in chemistry lab, January, 1975. Nobel Laureate F. Sherwood Rowland recently donated his extensive collection of research and professional files to the UCI Libraries. Sherry Rowland won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, along with Mario Molina of MIT and Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, for illustrating how sensitive the ozone layer is to man-made emissions. Rowland and Molina first published their research in Nature magazine in 1974. They theorized that chlorofluorocarbons -- such as those in aerosol cans, refrigerators, or some plastic foams -- lead to the destruction of ozone molecules in our atmosphere. The National Academy of Sciences concurred with their findings in 1976, and in 1978 CFC-based aerosols were banned in the United States. The Nobel Foundation noted that they "contributed to our salvation from a global environmental problem that could have catastrophic consequences."

Rowland came to UCI in 1964 as the first chair of the Department of Chemistry. He now serves as the Donald Bren Professor of Chemistry and Research Professor in Earth Science. He was also elected Foreign Secretary for the National Academy of Sciences in 1994 and reelected in 1998.

Sherwood Rowland teaching a chemistry class, December 1973.His papers will offer researchers insight into his numerous speaking engagements, engaging presentations, pivotal scientific research, service on the National Academy of Sciences, and sense of humor. Although Molina retains the lab notebooks with the Nobel discovery, the papers document Rowland's entire career. Of particular interest are materials that reveal Rowland's activism to prevent man-made harm to the earth's atmosphere, especially after the growing hole in the ozone layer captured the popular imagination. Mitchell Brown, Research Librarian for Chemistry and Earth System Science, notes, "This significant acquisition for the UCI Libraries will support a variety of research, particularly for those seeking a better understanding of how Rowland's work prevented a potentially catastrophic environmental problem."

The papers are housed in Special Collections and Archives. The initial installment contains almost 150 boxes, and more is promised. The papers are not yet available for research, but we are actively seeking funding to organize, preserve, and make them available. Once available, we expect researchers from multiple disciplines, from historians to ecologists, will use the collection. The papers include Rowland's correspondence, speeches, research files, lab notebooks, transparencies and teaching materials, photographs and videos, National Academy of Science files, and a variety of other material.

For more information, contact Michelle Light (lightm@uci.edu or x47193).

Above right: Rowland, F.S., and Mario Molina in chemistry lab, January 1975.
Above left: Sherwood Rowland teaching a chemistry class, December 1973.

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