March 2022 - 17

Postharvest physiologist presents memorial lecture
By Kim Kaplan
Agricultural Research Service
" Phytochemicals, Postharvest, and
Human Health: The Next Chapter "
was the title of the 2021 Agricultural
Research Service (ARS) Benjamin Y.
Morrison Memorial Lecture, presented
by Penelope Perkins-Veazie at the
annual meeting of the American Society
for Horticultural Science.
Perkins-Veazie is particularly noted. She
confirmed that watermelon contains as
much lycopene as tomatoes; lycopene
is a powerful antioxidant that promotes
cardiovascular health and helps protect
against certain cancers. She also
demonstrated that the lycopene content
of watermelon is affected by genetics,
irrigation and postharvest preparation.
These efforts helped transform the
profile of watermelon from mainly a
dessert food to a functional food with
significant health benefits, which has
greatly elevated its market appeal to
producers and consumers alike.
Perkins-Veazie currently is a professor
in the Department of Horticultural
Science at North Carolina State
University. Among her honors and
awards are being elected a Fellow of
the American Society for Horticultural
Science (ASHS), receiving the ASHS
Outstanding Researcher Award and
the ASHS Outstanding Paper Award -
Vegetable Publication, and serving as
President of ASHS, Southern Region.
She is editor for the American Pomology
Society and serves on the editorial board
for postharvest and biotechnology.
ARS established the B. Y. Morrison
Memorial Lecture to honor the memory
of Benjamin Y. Morrison (1891-1966)
by recognizing scientists who have
made outstanding contributions to
horticulture. B.Y. Morrison was the first
director of USDA's National Arboretum
in Washington, D.C. A scientist, plant
breeder, landscape architect, plant
explorer, author and lecturer, Morrison
advanced the science of botany and
horticulture in the United States. His
legacy to the American public includes
dozens of new ornamental plants,
including the Glenn Dale azaleas.
More information about the B.Y.
Morrison Memorial Lecture can be
found at
lectures/morrison/. FGN
ARS 2021 Benjamin Y. Morrison Memorial
Lecturer Penelope Perkins-Veazie.
" Up to half of the fruits and
vegetables produced never get
consumed, which has negative impacts
on natural resources, economic returns
and human health. We've come to
realize that preserving produce quality
has become increasingly critical to
making fruits and vegetables a larger
part of our diet, which helps sustain
health and ultimately improves the
quality of life, " Perkins-Veazie said.
Perkins-Veazie is known worldwide
for her groundbreaking research on
how postharvest storage of fruit and
vegetables alters their nutritional and
phytonutrient profiles. Her work has
included assessing how genetic traits,
production systems and postharvest
storage management affect nutritional
and market characteristics. She also has
developed storage methods that have
helped to extend the shelf life of produce.
" We've come to realize
that preserving produce
quality has become
increasingly critical to
making fruits and vegetables
a larger part of our diet. "
− Penelope Perkins-Veezie, North
Carolina State University
Her findings have helped create new
markets and production opportunities
for a range of specialty crops, including
niche produce such as radicchio, turnip,
okra, butternut squash, blackberry,
raspberry and muscadine.
The nutritional benefits of
watermelon is an area for which
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March 2022

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