- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
All in a two-day period...
Internationally recognized entomologist May Berenbaum, professor and head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will present two Storer Lectures next week at UC Davis. Both are free and open to the public.
The first is billed as a "public" lecture (as opposed to "scientific" lecture) on Tuesday, May 20 on "Bees in Crisis: Colony Collapse, Honey Laundering and Other Problems Bee-Setting American Apiculture" at 4:10 p.m. in Ballrooms A and B of the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane.
The second is a scientific lecture on Wednesday, May 21 on "Sex and the Single Parsnip: Coping with Florivores and Pollinators in Two Hemispheres." This will take place at 4:10 p.m. in Ballrooms A and B of the UC Davis Conference Center.
Both are sponsored by the Storer Endowment in Life Sciences, College of Biological Sciences.
May Berenbaum--appropriately she's speaking in May!--is a talented scientist, dedicated researcher, dynamic speaker, creative author, and an insect ambassador and all-around general bug lover. In fact, we can't think of anything she doesn't do well. Ever heard of Ninety-Nine Gnats, Nits and Nibblers? Or Ninety-Nine More Maggots, Mites and Munchers? Those are her books. Ever heard of "Buzzwords: A Scientist Muses on Sex, Bugs, and Rock 'n' Roll? Hers. Bugs in The System: Insects And Their Impact On Human Affairs? Hers, too.
We first heard May Berenbaum speak several years ago at a meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). Come 2016, she will head the 7000-member organization and become the fifth female president. (Integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is the current president.)
Berenbaum, however, is the first ESA president to have a fictional TV character named after her: Bambi Berenbaum from The X-Files.
Her deep interest in insects led to her founding the University of Illinois' Insect Fear Film Festival, a celebration of Hollywood's "misperceptions" of insect biology, an outreach activity now entering its 32nd year.
Berenbaum focuses her research 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. In addition to her pioneering research, she is devoted to teaching and to fostering scientific literacy to the general public, authoring numerous magazine articles, as well as three books on insect fact and folklore.
As as a spokesperson for the scientific community on the honey bee colony collapse disorder, Berenbaum has conducted research, written op-ed essays and testified before Congress on the issue.
Among her many honors, she is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Ecological Society of America, Entomological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
In 2011 Berenbaum was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, an international award that recognizes "those individuals who have contributed in an outstanding manner to scientific knowledge and public leadership to preserve and enhance the environment of the world."
In recognition of her research and her efforts in promoting public understanding of science, she has received many awards, including the 2010 AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science. She also received the1996 Distinguished Teaching Award from the North Central Branch of ESA.
Some biographical information:
Born in Trenton, N.J., Berenbaum received her bachelor's degree in biology from Yale University in 1975 and her doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 1980. She joined the faculty of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in August 1980 and has served as president since 1992 and as Swanlund Professor of Entomology since 1996.
Her work has been reported in more than 220 refereed scientific papers and 35 book chapters. Recent service to her profession includes membership on the editorial boards of four journals and terms on the National Academy of Sciences Council and Governing Board, the National Research Council Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science and Creationism, and the Advisory Board of the Koshland Museum of the National Academy of Sciences.
Berenbaum has chaired two National Research Council study committees, including most recently the Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America. Devoted to teaching and fostering scientific literacy, she has written many magazine articles, as well as six books about insects for the general public. She is also in demand as a speaker, addressing more than 100 schools, service organizations, museums, science and nature centers, and special interest organizations. She is also a favorite of the news media for insect-related news stories.
Berenbaum's campus host will be Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He can be reached at mpparrella@ucdavis or (530) 752-0492.
As for the Tracy and Ruth Storer Lectureship in the Life Sciences, it is considered the most prestigious of the endowed seminars at UC Davis. Established in 1960, the lectureship is funded through a gift from Professor Tracy I. Storer and Dr. Ruth Risdon Storer. Tracy Storer was the founding chair of the UC Davis Department of Zoology. Ruth Risdon Storer was Yolo County's first female pediatrician. The Storer Garden in the UC Davis Arboretum bears her name.
If you miss Berenbaum's talks, plans call for recording them for later posting on UCTV.