May Berenbaum, a well-known entomologist and bee researcher at the University of Illinois, has been awarded a National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama.

May Berenbaum (photo: University of Illinois)

May Berenbaum (photo: University of Illinois)

The medal is the nation’s highest honor for achievement and leadership in advancing fields of science.

Berenbaum’s work has concentrated in how bees and other insects interact with plants.

But she has also worked to demystify insects and to make them less scary in the minds of the public. Berenbaum was the inspiration for the X Files television show’s fictional entomologist Bambi Berenbaum.

She has written numerous books and articles about bees, including

Berenbaum was one of 10 scientists to receive the medal, which will be awarded at a White House ceremony later this year.

In making the award, Obama said of these scientists:

“These scholars and innovators have expanded our understanding of the world, made invaluable contributions to their fields, and helped improve countless lives. Our nation has been enriched by their achievements, and by all the scientists and technologists across America dedicated to discovery, inquiry, and invention.”

The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation.

Other recipients of the medal include

·        Bruce Alberts, University of California, San Francisco, CA

·        Robert Axelrod, University of Michigan, MI

·        Alexandre J. Chorin, University of California, Berkeley, CA

·        Thomas Kailath, Stanford University, CA

·        Judith P. Klinman, University of California, Berkeley, CA

·        Jerrold Meinwald, Cornell University, NY

·        Burton Richter, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University, CA

·        Sean C. Solomon, Columbia University, NY

And a posthumous medal to:

·        David Blackwell, University of California, Berkeley, CA

 

Key words: May Berenbaum, entomologist, National Medal of Science, White House, President Barack Obama, University of Illinois, bugs, insects, The Earwig’s Tail: A Modern Bestiary of Multi-legged Legends, Honey I’m Home-Made: Sweet Treats from the Beehive Across the Centuries and Around the World, X-files, Bambi Berenbaum

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