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Inventors’ Academy Has A New Member – And She’s From CALS

Headshot of Sylvia Blankenship

If you have bought any fresh fruit or flowers lately, chances are you’ve benefited from an NC State invention that extends the storage life of fruits and flowers. That invention has earned CALS’ Sylvia Blankenship a spot in the 2018 class of fellows in the National Academy of Inventors.

Blankenship, professor emerita of CALS’ Department of Horticultural Science and retired associate dean, is one of 148 academic inventors elected to the academy recently.

In the 1990s, she and former NC State professor Edward Sisler created and characterized a compound known as 1-methylcyclopropene, or 1-MCP, that makes fruits and flowers last longer.

John Dole, a horticultural scientist and CALS’ associate dean for academic programs, said that “1-MCP is probably the most significant advance in technology for fresh fruits and floral products in the last 20 years. … Growers worldwide have been able to improve yields and reduce losses to waste, providing consumers with year-found access to ripe, fresh fruit.”

Launched commercially in 2002 as SmartFresh™, the product is used with 70 percent or more of all apples harvested in the United States, plus 30 other crops, including kiwis, pears, plums and many floriculture crops, Dole added.

In being elected a fellow, Blankenship has, according to the academy, achieved “the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.”

Over 1,000 inventors, representing more than 250 research universities and government and non-profit research institutes, are NAI fellows.

This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.

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