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Edward C. Sisler, a professor of biochemistry at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, whose research is credited with revolutionizing the handling and distribution of fresh-cut flowers, was honored Sept. 22 by the Society of American Florists with its Alex Laurie Award for floriculture research and education.

SAF-AWARD1112-SISLEREdward Sisler accepts the 2012 Alex Laurie Award for Research and Education. Standing behind him is Society of American Florists awards chairman Terril Nell.The award was presented in Palm Beach, FL, during SAF’s 128th annual convention by awards chairman Terril Nell of the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, who said Dr. Sisler’s pioneering research “made it possible to source and sell flowers hundreds of miles from the fields and greenhouses where they had been grown,” according to a news release.

“Fresh, vibrant cut flowers that look beautiful for days or even weeks” have become a staple of successful flower retailers nationwide, Dr. Nell said. “But the industry’s ability to harvest, ship and sell flowers with days of fresh blooms to spare is relatively recent.”

Dr. Sisler devoted much of his life to understanding and developing ways to manage ethylene, a hormone that controls the aging process in flowers, and his discovery of a synthetic plant growth regulator (1-MCP, patented by Dr. Sisler in 1996) “revolutionized the handling of agricultural and horticultural commodities,” by helping to maintain the freshness of cut flowers and slow the ripening of fruit, Dr. Nell said in the release.

Dr. Sisler’s work had a major impact on the transport of flowers and “totally reshaped the global apple industry.” Dr. Nell said in the release. “He has toiled behind the scenes his entire career while having a huge impact on all our businesses. His contributions to floriculture have been extraordinary.”

Dr. Sisler, called “the father of 1-MCP,” holds 25 patents. He is a native of Friendsville, MD, and joined the North Carolina State University faculty in 1961.

Established in 1948, SAF’s Alex Laurie Award is named for a eminent professor at Ohio State University, Over the course of his 60-year career, Mr. Laurie laid the groundwork for research that revolutionized the floriculture industry and left a lineage of students, teachers and researchers continuing to provide the information necessary to ensure the industry’s future.