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"Spiders" Topic of Planetarium Science Talk

"Spiders" Topic of Planetarium Science Talk

UI entomologist takes a look at spiders in the movies, our backyards

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"Spiders" will invade the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College next month, as a science talk. 

University of Illinois entomologist Dr. May Berenbaum will present "Spiderman vs. Spiders: Marvel vs. the Real World," the next presentation in the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series, Friday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. Admission is $2 at the door with Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium admitted free of charge. 

Hollywood's depiction of spiders has little to do with the real world. Known locally for her annual "Insect Fear Film Festival," Berenbaum will look at spiders in the movies but then come back home to backyards in central Illinois to examine real spiders and their awesome diversity. There are over 45,000 species of spiders; what misconceptions might we have about these air-breathing, eight-legged arthropods? 

Berenbaum has been on the faculty of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1980, serving as head since 1992 and as Swanlund Chair of Entomology since 1996. She is known for elucidating chemical mechanisms underlying interactions between insects and their host plants, including detoxification of natural and synthetic chemicals, and for applying ecological principles in developing sustainable management practices for natural and agricultural communities. Her research has produced over 230 refereed scientific publications and 35 book chapters.

Devoted to teaching and fostering scientific literacy through formal and informal education, she has authored numerous magazine articles and six books about insects for the general public. Berenbaum received her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 1980. In 2014, she received the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.

Following Berenbaum’s talk, the Staerkel Planetarium will present the show "Cosmic Colors: An Adventure Along the Spectrum." Tickets for regular planetarium programming are $5 and $6. Call 217/351-2446 for a current schedule or visit the planetarium website

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