This person was born in Boston, USA, in 1839, and is best known for their discoveries in the field of organic chemistry although they also made many discoveries in physical chemistry. They were always interested in science, but it was only after studying at the Academy of Mines, Freiberg, Germany, that their interest turned to chemistry. They worked as a research assistant for Robert Bunsen, Heidelberg, Germany, and then for Charles Wurtz, Paris, France.
It was in Paris that this person first met another chemist with whom they were to carry out their most successful research. They discovered a reaction that bears both their names and enabled the synthesis of hundreds of new organic compounds. This reaction allowed substituents to be attached to an aromatic ring.
Later on in their career this person served as president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA, for two years. After resigning the presidency, they continued to carry out research and continued to write publications on their results almost right up until their death, at the age of 78.