Illinois Pioneers

U of I entomologist May Berenbaum

7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 9, on WILL-TV
May Berenbaum

May Berenbaum

May Berenbaum has received many honors from fellow scientists, and on Oct. 3, the White House announced that she's a recipient of the National Medal of Science. But she also has numerous fans among the general public who have been caught up in her infectious love of insects. Host David Inge said she put aside her childhood fear of insects to become an entomologist.

“When May was a kid she had the job of harvesting Japanese beetles in the family garden,” Inge said. “One day she grabbed what she thought was a bunch of beetles and it turned out to be a different kind of beetle, harmless but scary, and she ran screaming into the house.”

Inge talks to her about why people find insects so creepy and about some of the connections between insects and people, including the importance of insects as pollinators. She also talks about how the world-famous Insect Fear Film Festival got started and about how she came to inspire a character on the sci-fi television show The X-Files.

Watch the full episode: