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May Berenbaum ’80

ADW-PAL Dr. May Berenbaum
Dr. May Berenbaum

Dr. May Berenbaum ‘80
Full visit: October 2-6, 2023

  • Swanlund Endowed Chair; Head; and Professor, Department of Entomology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • ADW-PAL term: 2021-27
  • Subject Area: Life Sciences
  • Faculty host: Anurag Agrawal (James A. Perkins Professor of Environmental Studies, Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)
  • Faculty co-host: Jennifer Thaler (Professor, Dept. of Entomology)

Dr. May Berenbaum ‘80 received a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in August 1980; since that time, she has been on the faculty of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, serving as head since 1992 and as Swanlund Chair of Entomology since 1996. She is known for studies on chemical mediation of interactions between plants and insects, including herbivores and pollinators, and the mechanisms underlying those interactions at physiological, genetic, and genomic levels. Her research has produced more than 320 refereed scientific publications and 35 book chapters.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, she has chaired two National Research Council study committees, including Status of Pollinators in North America, testifying before Congress on the study’s findings. In other service, she has served as Editor-in-Chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences since 2019. Devoted to teaching and fostering scientific literacy, she has authored six books about insects for the general public and developed a variety of novel outreach initiatives, including the UI Insect Fear Film Festival (celebrating Hollywood’s entomological excesses since 1984) and the UI Pollinatarium (the nation’s first free-standing discovery science center devoted to pollinators).

Among honors she has received, she is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Ecological Society of America and the Entomological Society of America.  In 2011, she was awarded the Tyler Price for Environmental Achievement, and in 2014 she received the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.