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Six Legs Walking


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About the Author

Elizabeth Bernays grew up in Queensland, Australia, before moving to England where she taught high school and earned a PhD in entomology at University of London. She worked as a British government scientist for thirteen years, in London as well as in developing countries. In 1983, she became professor of entomology at the University of California Berkeley, and, in 1989, she was appointed Regents' Professor at the University of Arizona. After retiring, Elizabeth earned a MFA in creative writing at the University of Arizona. Her poems and essays have appeared in a variety of literary journals. She lives in historic downtown Tucson.


Elizabeth Bernays has written a beautiful memoir. Her sense of amazement at nature and boundless curiosity make this account of the attention, inventiveness, global spirit, and fun of a life in science shine. Insects, under her devoted scrutiny, prove to be spellbinding theater--"a performance of great skill." This book offers a window into how and why to care about the smallest among us.--Alison Hawthorne Deming, author of Zoologies: On Animals and the Human SpiritFrom her childhood in Australia and schooling in England to the wilds of Hungary, India, and Africa, Elizabeth Bernays asks the reader to become her entomological lab assistant, to suffer the tropical heat and grime and army ant bites of a true field researcher. Six Legs Walking is a fascinating, beautifully descriptive, and lyrical narrative that captures the essence of some strange agricultural pests and the exotic places where they dwell. --Ken Lamberton, author of Wilderness and Razor Wire and Chasing ArizonaElizabeth Bernays's memoir illustrates what drives a life in science--persistent curiosity and a healthy dose of fearlessness. These serve her well in the face of obstacles encountered as she makes her way to success as a rare female researcher. Most enjoyable are her clear-sighted observations and original thoughts about living things and about the connections between insects and people she meets along the way.--Nancy A. Moran, evolutionary biologist, 1997 MacArthur FellowI very much enjoyed reading these engagingly written memoirs of a great naturalist and superb entomologist. Her deep love for nature, the acute commitment to her pioneering research, and her warm sense for the people around her shine through on every page.--Bert Hölldobler, Pulitzer Prize-winning coauthor of The AntsElizabeth Bernays transforms the structure and function of grasshopper jaws into poetry, metamorphoses hours of insect observations into applecart-upsetting scientific directions, and shares her life with passion and humility. It is an honor to view the marvel of insects through her creative magnifying lens.--Marla Spivak, entomologist, 2010 MacArthur FellowSix Legs Walking: Notes from an Entomological Life is a sparkling series of linked essays by a famous entomologist with a lifetime of close observation and experience behind her. She speaks of "the image of insects, those primordial creatures that had been my passion for so long" and the effect the insects have had upon her life. Passion is the right word. A terrific book.--Richard Shelton, author of Going Back to Bisbee and Nobody Rich or FamousDeftly, Bernays unravels the process of scientific inquiry, mindful of the capricious influences of gender, culture, and funding, but without losing sight of its joy. Six Legs Walking is the kind of book that will make you look at a blade of grass or a cactus pad with new eyes, searching for the "small wonders" that abound within its pages.-- Melissa L. Sevigny, author of Mythical River and Under Desert Skies

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