Chemist who created the second-most common form of plastic: polyvinyl chloride - PVC, or more simply, vinyl. He won the Charles Goodyear Medal in 1944 and the Elliott Cresson Medal in 1964.
He was attempting to coat metal with rubber, trying a synthetic version of rubber, when he decided to experiment with PVC, discovering it was elastic and quite durable.
His new material was inexpensive and very versatile, going into everything from shock-absorbers to electrical insulation.
He was born in Demopolis, Alabama and moved with his family to Washington state at age of 7.
Almost 100 years before him, an Englishman by the name of Alexander Parkes created the world's first plastic, paving the way for Semon and others.