University of Vermont

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Plant Propagation Pioneer Returns to UVM

Alumnus' Student Now Teaches Here as Well

Mark Starrett, from left, Frank Blazich, April Blazich
Frank Blazich, center, received CALS Outstanding Alumnus Award May 19. His former student Mark Starrett and wife April Blazich attended the awards dinner May 14 on campus.

Frank Blazich of Raleigh, North Carolina is internationally known for work in plant propagation. In fact, the Christmas tree and nursery industries widely use seed treatments and propagation techniques that he developed.

But as impressive, is his propagation of knowledge and scholarship through a generation of men and women whom he has taught and mentored.

For these reasons, Blazich received an Outstanding Alumnus Award on May 14 during the University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) alumni and friends award dinner May 14. More than 180 people attended the event held at the campus Davis Center. He was one of three alums, along with Sam Cutting III and Diane Bothfeld, to receive 2011 Outstanding Alumni Awards and among seven annual award winners.

Perhaps no one at UVM knows Frank Blazich better than Mark Starrett, now one of CALS plant and soil science faculty, who once was Professor Blazich’s master’s and Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University and is an exemplary Blazich student.

Starrett recalled what it was like to be his student. “When I gave Dr. Blazich my first manuscript prior to submission for a journal, he returned it so covered in red ink I could barely tell it was printed on white paper. I learned a great deal about scientific writing from him. At NCSU, if your paper passed the Blazich Review, you were good to go.”

Blazich mentored 19 master’s and 13 Ph.D. students in his 25 years at NCSU.

That’s a lot of red ink.

Starrett remembers that Blazich was always there for his students – literally always in his office, from the first thing in the morning until late each evening. Blazich edited not only his students’ work, but also the journals: “American Society for Horticultural Science” and “HortScience.” He authored or co-authored more than 450 peer-reviewed publications, research reports and popular articles all totaled, and 20 book chapters.

Blazich was a highly decorated infantryman and parachutist during the Vietnam War in 1965-1967, then he used the G.I. Bill to fund his education.

He graduated in plant and soil science magna cum laude from UVM in 1971 and 1973. He received his Ph.D from Penn. State University in 1977, then became a research scientist at the Virginia Truck and Ornamentals Research Station, before settling in at North Carolina State.

Since 1982, and to this day, he volunteers at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences where he teaches the public.

Blazich has received dozens of the top awards at other universities and in his profession and is a member of many prestigious honor societies.

As his one-time teacher and life-time colleague, UVM’s Professor Emeritus Norman Pellett said, “he deserves an award from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences where, early on, he received his horticultural and scientific inspiration. UVM can point with pride and honor to this humble and unpretentious person whose actions speak for him.”


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