1915 Elmer K. Bolton

Elmer K. Bolton (1886-1968) earned a Ph.D. from Harvard, did post-doctoral work at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Germany, and turned down a teaching position at his alma mater to begin a productive career at DuPont in 1915. Within a year Bolton was heading up a team of chemists studying synthetic dyes.Show more

Bolton became director of the Chemical Section of the Dyestuffs Department in 1921 where he was responsible for research on a wide variety of organic chemicals, including dyes and dye intermediates, rubber accelerators, rubber antioxidants, flotation agents, tetraethyl lead (TEL) and seed disinfectants. He became assistant director of DuPont’s Chemicals Department in 1929 and was promoted to director the following year. There, Bolton oversaw DuPont’s pioneering applied and fundamental research program.


Bolton is notable for his role in developing neoprene, the first general-purpose synthetic rubber, and directing the research that led to the discovery of nylon. Bolton received the Chemical Industry Medal in 1941 and the Perkin Medal in 1945 and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1946. Bolton retired from DuPont in 1951 and three years later was awarded the Willard Gibbs Medal by the Chicago section of the American Chemical Society for his contributions to basic research.