Dr. May Berenbaum, professor and head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), was recently elected Vice President-Elect of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). After serving as VP-Elect in 2014, she will be Vice President in 2015 and then ESA President in 2016, the same year that ESA will host the International Congress of Entomology, an event that occurs every four years.
Dr. Berenbaum will be the fifth female President in the history of the ESA, and she will be the first to have a fictional TV character — Bambi Berenbaum from The X-Files — named after her.
“As ESA VP, I will be honored to help ensure that ESA serves as an effective voice of entomology as a science, and that ESA remains uniquely useful to all insect biologists,” Dr. Berenbaum said. “Many of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, including climate change, emerging infectious diseases, invasive species, and accelerating biodiversity losses, involve arthropods, and entomological expertise should become increasingly valuable for American science competitiveness. Thus, ESA should continue its efforts to increase its national impact on science policy.”
Dr. Berenbaum has been an ESA member since 1980, and she has written a column called “Buzzwords” for American Entomologist since 1991. She is also the author of many books intended for a general audience, including Buzzwords: A Scientist Muses on Sex, Bugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll; Bugs in the System: Insects and Their Impact on Human Affairs; and The Earwig’s Tail: A Modern Bestiary of Multi-legged Legends.
“No one in recent years has written on insects with more learning, passion, and disarming humor than May Berenbaum,” wrote E.O. Wilson on one of her book covers. “She is a great friend of the Hexapoda and therefore, ultimately, us.”
Dr. Berenbaum is also well-known for founding the Insect Fear Film Festival, an event that has been held annually at UIUC for 30 years which invites the audience to have fun with Hollywood insect-horror movies while simultaneously learning about the inaccuracies in the movies.
She received ESA’s Founders’ Memorial Award in 1994, the ESA Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching in 2006, and she was elected to be an ESA Fellow in 2002.
In 2010 she won the AAAS Public Understanding of Science and Technology Award, and in 2011 she won the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. According to Owen T. Lind, chair of the Tyler Prize executive committee that year, “Professor Berenbaum has done more to advance the field of entomology and explain the significance than nearly any other researcher today.”
The Entomological Society of America is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 6,500 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, and hobbyists. For more information, visit http://www.entsoc.org.