Victor Grignard had a strange start in academic life for a chemist - he took a maths degree. When he eventually switched to chemistry, it was not to the mathematical province of physical chemistry but to organic chemistry. While attempting to find an efficient catalyst for the process of methylation, he noted that Zn in diethyl ether had been used for this purpose and wondered whether the Mg/ether combination might be successful. Grignard reagents were first reported in 1900 and Grignard used this work for his doctoral thesis in 1901. In 1910, Grignard obtained a professorship at the University of Nancy and in 1912, he was awarded the Nobel prize for Chemistry which he shared with Paul Sabatier who had made advances in nickel catalysed hydrogenation.