George Washington Carver (1864-1943) was a man of many talents and is considered an American folk hero. Carver's accomplishments are mostly in the areas of agriculture and the development of plant-based products for industrial use.
Carver was a pioneer in soil analysis, crop management, and the control of plant diseases. Many southern farmers who adopted his methods experienced greater crop yields and profits. Carver promoted soil diversification and the adoption of peanuts, soybeans, and other soil-enriching crops. He developed 118 products using sweet potatoes, 325 products using peanuts, and 75 products using pecans.
Carver also came up with a process for creating a plastic material from soybeans. Henry Ford later used this plastic in the manufacture of automobiles. In addition, Carver extracted dyes and paints from Alabama red clay and worked with hybrid (the offspring of genetically different varieties or species) cotton.
Sources: The Great Scientists, vol. 3, pp. 67, 70; Porter, Roy, ed. The Biographical Dictionary of Scientists, 2nd ed., pp. 121-22; Sammons, Vivian O. Blacks in Science and Medicine, p. 50.