When I was still at high school I developed a love of books and of writing, but my career in biology gave me little time for such pleasures until I was nearing retirement. I started with some non-degree courses in poetry and nonfiction and then obtained a Master of Fine Arts (nonfiction) in 2006, at the University of Arizona. My essays and books cover all manner of topics including war, the game of cricket, art, and differences among people in their brain function. My engagement with nature though, typically plays the major role in my writing.
Six Legs Walking: Notes from an Entomological Life
Like the painted lady butterflies that fascinated her as a child in Queensland, Australia, entomologist Elizabeth Bernays has lived a migratory adventure, following her scientific curiosity around the world before landing at the University of Arizona. In Six Legs Walking: Notes from an Entomological Life, Bernays takes us along on her evolution from backward child to accomplished biologist as she explores scholarship, culture, and love, all while immersed in the wonders of some of the smallest creatures on earth.
Young Liz becomes enamored with insects in her home garden while working beside her mother, who worries over her daughter being deemed intellectually impaired. An introduction to a working scientist and the encouragement of a beloved teacher inspire Elizabeth to go on to the University of Queensland to study biology.
While in graduate school in London, Elizabeth meets established entomologist Reg Chapman, who will become her partner in work and in life. As a British government scientist, she researches the habits of bugs in the hopes of finding biological solutions to controlling pests that damage crops in Nigeria, India, and Mali, working alongside local scientists and discovering the diversity of human cultural customs.
As a professor at the University of California Berkeley, she learns about American individualism and advocating on her own behalf. At last, Bernays settles in the Sonoran Desert, where she is visited by a hawk moth that launches her on yet another entomological expedition.
In this collection of autobiographical essays, Elizabeth Bernays educates readers on the progression and significance of biological research while sharing her sheer joy in the discoveries she makes. Six Legs Walking is the inspiring story of one woman’s lifelong love affair with science.
Desert Rain: Bay Area Poets Coalition Poetry Competition: Third prize in midi category, January 2003
University of Arizona Foundation Award, Spring 2006
Honorable mention in Writing it Real Contest, 2006
First Prize XJ Kennedy Award for Creative Non Fiction, Rosebud Magazine, 2007
First Prize in Essay section of Brainerd Writer’s Alliance Contest, 2007
First Prize for nonfiction in 5th Texas Laughing Gull Writing Contest, 2008
Finalist in Press 53 nonfiction contest, 2008
Listed in Notable Non-required Reading, ed. D.Eggers, 2008
3rd place Winner of TransitionsAbroad.com's Narrative Writing Contest, 2009
Honorable mention National League of American Pen Women, 2008
Competition for "Of Crows and Conquerors," 2009
Honorable mention for "Six Legs Walking" [Quill award, Red Hen Press] 2018
Winner of New Mexico-Arizona nonfiction award for book, "Six Legs Walking." 2020