This person was born in France in the early 1820s. They went on to study chemistry at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and attended additional lectures at the Sorbonne whenever able. By the age of 25, this chemist had made a discovery that would lead to our current understanding of molecular chirality. Although hindered by the primitive state of organic chemistry, this person made the connection between optical rotation and molecular structure and introduced new terminology and nomenclature for this new science of molecular and crystal chirality. This discovery and its presentation at the French Academy of Sciences earned this chemist a position as professeur suppléant (substituting or acting professor) in chemistry at the University of Strasbourg, France, in late 1848, followed a few years later by appointment as professeur titulaire (tenured professor).
Despite making significant contributions to chemistry, this is not the work for which this chemist is best known. Accepting a position at the University of Lille, France, in 1854, resulted in a change in research direction and the beginning of this person’s work on lactic and alcoholic fermentations. By 1877, their research had expanded to include the causes of disease and ways to prevent them. This work helped develop the first vaccinations, while the heat-treatment process that bears this person’s name is still commonly used today.