May Berenbaum

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May Berenbaum
May Berenbaum with U.S. President Barack Obama
Residence Illinois, United States
Nationality American
Fields Entomology
Institutions University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign
Alma mater Yale University
Cornell University
Notable awards National Medal of Science (2014)

May Roberta Berenbaum (born 1953) is an American entomologist whose research focuses on the chemical interactions between herbivorous insects and their host-plants, and the implications of these interactions on the organization of natural communities and the evolution of species.

Early life and education

Berenbaum graduated summa cum laude, with a B.S. degree and honors in biology, from Yale University in 1975; she attended graduate school at Cornell University and received a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology in 1980.[1]


Since 1980, Berenbaum has been a member of the faculty of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and has served as head of the department since 1992.[2] In addition to her research, she is devoted to teaching and to fostering scientific literacy. In 1996, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[3] she is the recipient of the 1996 Entomological Society of America North Central Branch Distinguished Teaching Award and has authored numerous magazine articles, as well as three books about insects for the general public. She has also gained some measure of fame as the organizer of the Insect Fear Film Festival at the University of Illinois, an annual celebration of Hollywood's entomological excesses.[1]

Berenbaum received the 2009 Public Understanding of Science and Technology Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[1]

She also had a character in The X-Files named after her: Dr. Bambi Berenbaum, a famous entomologist and love-interest of Agent Mulder.[4]

In March 2011, she was awarded the University of Southern California's Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.[5]

It was announced that she would have her first new species (Xestoblatta berenbaumae Evangelista, Kaplan, & Ware 2015) named after her publicly in November 2014.[6]

On 3 October 2014, President Barack Obama awarded the National Medal of Science to Berenbaum. She received the medal in a White House ceremony on November 20, 2014.[7][8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Berenbaum to be honored for efforts in public understanding of science". University of Illinois. Retrieved 2010-05-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Department of Entomology - University of Illinois
  3. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved June 15, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "To Bee or Not to Bee". Scientific American. Retrieved 2010-05-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Leading Entomologist and Bee Expert Awarded Prestigious 2011 Tyler Environmental Prize". Retrieved 2012-04-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "May Berenbaum Receives New Species of Cockroach Named After Her".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "President Obama Honors Nation's Top Scientists and Innovators". Retrieved 2014-10-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "President Obama Presents the National Medals of Science & National Medals of Technology and Innovation". U.S. White House. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links