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Published on May 18, 2012
Professor May R. Berenbaum was May R. Berenbaum, PhD, was named the winner of the 2011 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for her groundbreaking research in the field of chemical ecology. Her research has led to an understanding of the relationships between insects and the plants on a genetic level. Through a combination of genetic analysis and experimentation, Berenbaum has shown that plants evolve to create natural defenses, like chemical toxins to ward off pests, and that insects in turn evolve to overcome these defenses. Understanding this coevolution, or "arms race," between plants and insects has been fundamental to a better understanding of pesticide resistance, insects and genetically modified crops.
Professor Berenbaum is also a leading expert on the mysterious disappearance of bees, known as Colony Collapse Disorder.
Since its inception in 1973 as one of the world's first international environmental awards, the Tyler Prize is the premier award for environmental science, environmental health and energy, given to those who confer great benefit upon humankind through environmental restoration and achievement.