News from the National Academy of Sciences

October 26, 2018

May R. Berenbaum of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Named PNAS Editor-in-Chief

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announces the appointment of May R. Berenbaum as Editor-in-Chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the official journal of the Academy. Berenbaum will begin the editorship on January 1, 2019.

Berenbaum is Professor and Swanlund Chair of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1994 and has served on the PNAS Editorial Board since 1998.

“The National Academy is so fortunate to have recruited a new Editor-in-Chief with the international reputation, leadership experience and excellence, and commitment to quality communication demonstrated by Professor May Berenbaum. Her dedication to the journal and to the Academy is legendary. I look forward to working with her in the coming years," says NAS President Marcia McNutt.

Berenbaum is a leader in the field of chemical ecology, and her decades-long work has illuminated ecological, evolutionary, biochemical, and molecular aspects of an evolutionary arms race between insects and plants. She has unraveled the coevolution of chemical offense and defense in insects and plants in ecological interactions ranging from herbivory to pollination. She has also investigated how mechanisms that detoxify naturally occurring plant chemicals influence pesticide metabolism. Her work has explored the detrimental effects of agricultural practices and pesticides on honey bees in the wake of colony collapse disorder. Berenbaum’s work carries wide-ranging implications for agriculture and the environment, not least for safe and sustainable food production.

Berenbaum, who will succeed Interim Editor-in-Chief Natasha V. Raikhel, says, “I'm profoundly grateful to have been offered the position of Editor-in-Chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It’s an amazing opportunity to help PNAS continue to influence the path and progress of science as it kicks off its second century.”

Berenbaum received a BS and honors in biology from Yale University in 1975 and a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 1980. She is the recipient of numerous scientific honors, including memberships in the NAS, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. Her work has been recognized with a National Medal of Science (2014) and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (2011), among other honors. She is the author of numerous popular science articles and books on entomology and a voice of authority on a range of environmental issues, including climate change and biodiversity loss.

Berenbaum says, “What I like most about PNAS, and what sets it apart from its preeminent peers, is its breadth. Its structure is built on the breadth of the NAS itself, encompassing the natural, physical, and social sciences, and spanning basic and applied dimensions. It’s impossible to predict from what discipline transformative ideas and approaches will arise; with the increasing importance of disciplinary interfaces in advancing science, there are no longer any backwaters.”

She adds, “PNAS must continue its tradition of publishing papers representing significant scientific advances, rigorously vetted for quality, in a timely and accessible way. At the same time, it must recognize and accommodate the blistering pace of scientific, social, and cultural change around the world. How science is conducted, communicated, interpreted, and applied is in transition. PNAS can set an example for the scientific publishing community in how to adapt to these changes.”

One of the world's most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials, PNAS publishes original research reports, commentaries, reviews, perspectives, colloquium papers, and actions of the Academy. Coverage in PNAS spans the biological, physical, and social sciences.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and—with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine—provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

Contacts: Prashant Nair
PNAS Media and Communications Manager
202.334.1310; e-mail:
Twitter: @theNASciences

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