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White House Honors U of I Entomologist May Berenbaum

May Berenbaum with an insect

U of I entomology professor May Berenbaum Photo by UIUC News Service

President Barack Obama on Friday awarded the National Medal of Science to a group of researchers that includes University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum.

An announcement from the White House describes the award as "the nation’s highest honor for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology."

Berenbaum credits good timing for her award.  She has studied the disappearance of bee colonies in recent years, and says many of the insects she researches are particularly newsworthy.

She says she’s been pinching herself since getting the news.

“I don’t think you can top this one.  I really don’t. This one is such an enormous honor," Berenbaum says.  "Many people (being honored) this year are science heroes of my own. And I’m so incredibly thrilled to be on the same list.”

Berenbaum has taught at the U of I Urbana campus since 1980. She also created the Insect Fear Film Festival, an annual event that combines film screenings with discussions of insects and an insect petting zoo.

This year’s recipients will receive their medals at a ceremony at the White House later this year.