Franklin-Lavoisier Prize

Fred Aftalion

Fred Aftalion

2014 Winner: Fred Aftalion

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) and the Fondation de la Maison de la Chimie (FMC) will present the Franklin-Lavoisier Prize to Fred Aftalion on April 3, 2014, at the CHF headquarters in Philadelphia.

A graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris, Aftalion devoted his life’s work to chemistry. He studied under Herman Mark in Brooklyn Polytechnic’s Polymer Institute in 1946. His first job in the chemical industry was as an engineer with Hercules, with which he spent five years in the United States and Latin America. Returning to France in 1951, he joined Naphtachimie, where he set up the marketing networks of what was then a new petrochemicals company.

Called in by Laboratoire Roger Bellon in 1956 to take over the management of the Société Française d’Organo-Synthèse (SFOS), he turned it over the course of the next three decades into an efficient specialty chemicals enterprise. Aftalion also served as president of Société la Vermiculite et la Perlite, now an affiliate of Elf Aquitaine, and he became a board member of Rhône Poulenc Specialités Chimiques when SFOS was acquired by that company. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Total Chimie and of the Maison de la Chimie.

As an author, Fred Aftalion has recorded and enhanced our understanding of our chemical heritage, as well as made known the important impact of the chemical sciences and technologies among the broader public. His book, A History of the International Chemical Industry, is a seminal work of history and a unique publication, chronicling the rise of the chemical industry around the globe and the important human benefits that it has brought. The only book of its kind, A History of the International Chemical Industry has also advanced the sense of community among the various participants in the chemical endeavor.

To see the past winners of the Franklin-Lavoisier Prize, click here.

About the Franklin-Lavoisier Prize

Created in 2008, the Franklin-Lavoisier Prize is jointly awarded by the Fondation de la Maison de la Chimie (FMC) in Paris and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF). Named for Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and Benjamin Franklin, two of the 18th century’s greatest minds, this prize recognizes unusually meritorious efforts in the preservation or promotion of the entwined scientific heritage of France and the United States.

The purpose of the award is to acknowledge commendable work in the preservation and highlighting of any aspect of our common scientific or industrial heritage in the fields of chemistry and its related applications, the promotion of the history of the chemical and molecular sciences and industries, or the fostering of closer Franco-American ties and the promotion of significant activities in the chemical sciences or industries.

FMC and CHF also seek to promote public understanding of Franco-American relations in modern and historical science, industry, and economics.

Accompanied by a monetary award of €15,000, the Franklin-Lavoisier Prize is awarded every two years by a five-member international jury. Award ceremonies will take place alternately in the United States and France.

About the Sponsors

La Maison de la Chimie was founded in 1928, in Paris, with the goal of building and maintaining a central meeting and working space to promote the popularization of science and was organized for the service of chemists worldwide. To fulfill this mission, la Maison de la Chimie provides a number of services and activities to facilitate cooperation between all those working to promote chemistry as one of the basic disciplines of science and technology.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) is a collections-based nonprofit organization that preserves the history and heritage of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related sciences and technologies. The collections are used to create a body of original scholarship that illuminates chemistry’s role in shaping society. In bridging science with the humanities, arts, and social sciences, CHF is committed to building a vibrant, international community of scholars; creating a rich source of traditional and emerging media; expanding the reach of our museum; and engaging the broader society through inventive public events.

Nominations and Information

For more information on the Franklin-Lavoisier Prize, or to find out how to nominate someone for this award, send an e-mail to

Hear It Firsthand

CHF’s Center for Oral History captures and preserves the stories of notable figures in chemistry and related fields. Many of the oral histories in the collection belong to recipients of CHF awards, including


Support CHF

Help us preserve and share the history of chemistry and related sciences. Make a tax-deductible tax-deductible gift online.