University of Illinois professor of entomology May Berenbaum has been awarded the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest honor for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology, according to an announcement from the White House Press Office.Photo Courtesy National Science and Technology Medals Foundation
The National Medal of Science was created in 1959 and is awarded annually to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering, according to the release.
“Professor Berenbaum’s work has fundamentally changed what we know, how we study and how the public understands the role of insects in nearly every aspect of human life and development,” said
Phyllis M. Wise, chancellor of the Urbana campus. “This is transformative scholarship on a global scale and has implications for every person on the planet. This is a well-deserved honor and all of us at Illinois offer Professor Berenbaum our sincerest congratulations.”
Berenbaum, a Swanlund Chair and the head of the department of entomology, has been a U. of I. faculty member since 1980. Her research, which studies the chemical mechanisms underlying interactions between insects and their host plants, including the detoxification of natural and synthetic chemicals, has produced hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific publications and 35 book chapters.
She also created the Insect Fear Film Festival, now in its 32nd year on campus. The festival engages and entertains hundreds of viewers each year with feature-length films and shorts, commentary on the films, an insect petting zoo and an insect art contest.