May Berenbaum

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. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was named editor-in-chief of its journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2019[1]; she is also a member of the American Philosophical Society (1996), and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1996). She has held a Maybelle Leland Swanlund Endowed Chair in entomology since 2012, which is the highest title a professor can hold at the University of Illinois.[2] In 2014, she was awarded the National Medal of Science.

May Berenbaum
May Berenbaum 2014 (cropped).png
May Berenbaum, 2014
Alma materYale University
Cornell University
AwardsNational Medal of Science (2014)
Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (2011) Public Engagement with Science (2009) from AAAS
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign
Thesis (1980)
Doctoral advisorPaul Feeny

Early life and educationEdit

Berenbaum graduated summa cum laude, with a B.S. degree and honors in biology, from Yale University in 1975. Berenbaum discovered an interest in entomology after taking a course on terrestrial arthropods only because it fit her schedule, and found a second passion by taking an elective course in plant biochemistry.[3] After attending a research seminar on chemical ecology by Paul Feeny, she decided to integrate her interests in entomology and botany, and began a PhD supervised by Feeny at Cornell University.[4] Berenbaum received her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology in 1980.[5]


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.[6] In addition to her research, she is devoted to teaching and to fostering scientific literacy. Additionally, she teaches a course on Critical Evaluations of Herbal Remedies for advanced biology undergraduates. In 1996, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences[7] and she was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in the same year.[8] She served as the editor of Annual Review of Entomology from 1997 until 2018,[9] and was named editor-in-chief of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA in 2019.[1] She 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.[5]

Awards and honorsEdit

Selected worksEdit

  • Berenbaum, M., Miller, J. R., & Miller, T. A. (1988). Insect-Plant Interactions. New York: Springer.
  • Berenbaum, M. (1989). Ninety-nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
  • Rosenthal, G. A., & Berenbaum, M. R. (1992). Herbivores: Their Interactions with Secondary Plant Metabolites. (Herbivores.) San Diego: Academic Press.
  • Berenbaum, M. (1993). Ninety-nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
  • Berenbaum, M. (1996). Bugs in the System: Insects and their Impact on Human Affairs. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley.
  • Berenbaum, M. R. (2001). Buzzwords: A Scientist Muses on Sex, Bugs, and Rock'n Roll. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press.
  • Jeffords, M. R., Post, S. L., Warwick, C., & Berenbaum, M. (2008). Biologists in the Field: Stories, Tales, and Anecdotes from 150 Years of Field Biology. Champaign, Ill: Illinois Natural History Survey.
  • Berenbaum, M. R. (2009). Earwig's Tail - a Modern Bestiary of Multi-legged Legends. Harvard University Press
  • Berenbaum, M. R. (2010). Honey, I'm Homemade: Sweet Treats from the Beehive Across the Centuries and Around the World. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
  • Sadava, D. E., Hillis, D. M., Heller, H. C., & Berenbaum, M. (2014). Life: The Science of Biology. 10th ed.


  1. ^ a b "Editorial Board | PNAS". Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  2. ^ News-Gazette, The. "Five professors named Swanlund Chairs". The News-Gazette. Retrieved 2020-03-07.
  3. ^ Retrieved 2020-03-07. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Retrieved 2020-03-07. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ a b c Herkamp, Anna (February 17, 2010). "Berenbaum to be honored for efforts in public understanding of science". University of Illinois. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  6. ^ "May R. Berenbaum". Department of Entomology, University of Illinois. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. p. 41. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  8. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2019-04-07.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Angela E. Douglas (2019). "Preface". Annual Review of Entomology. 64: v–vii. doi:10.1146/annurev-en-64-103018-100001.
  10. ^ "Science Talk Podcast: To Bee or Not to Bee". Scientific American. August 21, 2009. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  11. ^ Retrieved 2020-03-07. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-06-12. Retrieved 2018-07-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Leading Entomologist and Bee Expert Awarded Prestigious 2011 Tyler Environmental Prize". University of Southern California. Archived from the original on November 26, 2011. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  14. ^ "May Berenbaum Receives Tyler Prize | Entomological Society of America". Retrieved 2020-03-07.
  15. ^ News-Gazette, The. "Five professors named Swanlund Chairs". The News-Gazette. Retrieved 2020-03-07.
  16. ^ Staff, Chronicle. "Computer pioneers to receive awards at MSU's E.O. Wilson talk". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Retrieved 2020-03-07.
  17. ^ "May Berenbaum Receives New Species of Cockroach Named After Her". Entomology Today. Entomological Society of America. November 21, 2014.
  18. ^ "President Obama Honors Nation's Top Scientists and Innovators". White House Press Office. October 3, 2014. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  19. ^ "President Obama Presents the National Medals of Science & National Medals of Technology and Innovation". White House Press Office. November 20, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014.

External linksEdit