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National Inventors Hall of Fame Honors Horticulturalist Sylvia Blankenship

The Technology Tower is reflected in the side windows of the Talley Student Center.

The people responsible for some of the world’s most innovative ideas — such as the sports bra, laser hair removal and synthetic lubricants — get the red carpet treatment this week at a two-day event in Washington, D.C., dubbed “the Greatest Celebration of American Innovation,” sponsored by the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Of the 27 innovators being inducted into the prestigious organization, three have ties to NC State. Horticulturalist Sylvia Blankenship and the late biochemist Edward Sisler are honored for identifying a novel compound that significantly extends the freshness and storage life of fruits, vegetables and cut floral products.

Blankenship is a professor emerita at NC State. Sisler earned his doctorate in plant physiology at NC State in 1958, and served as a professor of biochemistry in the Department of Structural and Molecular Biochemistry for much of his career. He died in 2016.

Computer scientist Peter Wurman, who served on NC State’s faculty for eight years, is honored as one of the creators of the Kiva system, a robotic method of material handling in distribution centers that revolutionized warehouse order fulfillment.

Other inductees include R. Rox Anderson, who developed laser dermatology technologies; James McEwen, who invented the first microprocessor-controlled automatic surgical tourniquet system; and Marian Croak, who developed voice over internet technology for converting voice data into digital signals.

Historical inductees include Stewart Adams and John Nicholson, who patented Ibuprofen; Patricia Bath, who invented a laser device for removing cataracts; and automobile engineer Carl Benz.

The two-day event kicks off May 4 at the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum in Alexandria, Virginia, with an “illumination ceremony.” During the ceremony, inductees will place their names on illuminated hexagons in the Gallery of Icons exhibit, forever commemorating their Induction into the Hall of Fame.

The 2022 National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony follows on May 5 with a black-tie dinner at the Anthem in Washington, D.C. Danica McKellar — star of the TV show The Wonder Years and author of New York Times bestselling “McKellar Math” books — will serve as master of ceremonies.

Founded in 1973 in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, NIHF is committed to not only honoring the individuals whose inventions have made the world a better place, but to ensuring American ingenuity continues to thrive in the hands of coming generations through its national, hands-on educational programming and collegiate competitions focused on the exploration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

This post was originally published in NC State News.