Wallace Carothers was born in Iowa(1896). He was the oldest of four siblings. After high school Carothers studied acconting at Capital City. He then went to Tarkio College in Missiouri where he studied science and taught accounting. He graduated in 1920 then got his master from the University of Illiniois the following year. He took a teaching post at The University of South Dakota, and there began working on organic chemistry, He found he liked research far more than teaching. He obtained his PhD from the University of Illinois in 1924. He became an instructor at Harvard.
In 1928, The DuPont chemical company opened a labortory for basic research and hired Carothers as the manager of a whole division. There he and his team created neoprene(1931) and nylon(1934). Through his whole life he suffered from depression. In 1936 he maried Helen Sweetman and had a daughter, but never met her. In 1937 his favorite sister died which added to his deprresion and his eventual suicide in April of that same year.