They are Robert H. Grubbs, Ph.D.; Richard R. Schrock, Ph.D.; Stanley B. Prusiner, M.D.; George A. Olah, Ph.D.; Alan J. Heeger, Ph.D.; and Mario J. Molina, Ph.D.
Grubbs, who is with the California Institute of Technology, and Schrock, who is with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shared the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Yves Chauvin for the development of the "metathesis method." That new way to make plastics, medicines and other products was an advance in "green chemistry," because it reduces the production of potentially hazardous waste compared with other approaches.
Prusiner, who is with the University of California, San Francisco, won the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of prions. Those infectious proteins cause a degenerative brain disorder in humans called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, "mad cow" disease in cattle, and related diseases in sheep and deer.
Olah, who is with the University of Southern California, won the 1994 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work on "carbocations," charged molecules that were considered too unstable to study. Olah developed a way to isolate these molecules, which was useful in the oil and coal industries.
Heeger, who is with the University of California, Santa Barbara, shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Alan G. MacDiarmid, Ph.D., and Hideki Shirakawa, Ph.D., for the revolutionary discovery that plastics, after certain modifications, can conduct electricity. The discovery opened the way for plastic batteries, roll-up solar cells and other potential products.
Molina, who is with the University of California, San Diego, shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with F. Sherwood Rowland, Ph.D., and Paul J. Crutzen, Ph.D., for discovering that substances called CFCs in aerosol spray cans and other products were destroying the ozone layer. The ozone layer is crucial to life on Earth, forming a protective shield high in the atmosphere that blocks potentially harmful ultraviolet rays in sunlight.
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