Professor and Department Head of Entomology
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Dr. May Berenbaum is an entomologist whose work focuses on revealing the chemical mechanisms underlying interactions between insects and their host plants, including detoxification of natural and synthetic chemicals. Her work has relevance to the application of ecological principles in developing sustainable management practices for natural and agricultural communities. Her research has produced more than 230 refereed scientific publications and 35 book chapters. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, she has chaired two National Research Council committees, the Committee on the Future of Pesticides in U.S. Agriculture (2000) and the Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America (2007). Devoted to teaching and fostering scientific literacy through formal and informal education, she has authored numerous magazine articles and 6 books about insects for the general public. She also had a character in “The X-Files” television series named after her: Dr. Bambi Berenbaum, a famous entomologist. Berenbaum received the 2014 National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama and the 2009 Public Understanding of Science and Technology Award from AAAS. She received her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University.