Bernie May

Bernie May

Bernie May, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor, Emeritus

Department of Animal Science
One Shields Avenue
University of California
Davis, CA 95616 USA

Phone: +1 530-754-8123
FAX: +1 530-752-0175


Bernie May came to UC Davis in 1995 when his wife Mary Delany was hired as an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the departments of Avian Sciences and Animal Science. Bernie previously served at Cornell University for 14 years as Director of the Cornell Laboratory for Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics that he founded there in 1981. At UC Davis he founded and became the first Director of the Genomic Variation Laboratory (GVL) in the Department of Animal Science. The laboratory focuses primarily on providing genetics data and expertise to state, federal, and tribal resource management agencies in their efforts to protect and conserve threatened and endangered fish species. He was an author on over 200 refereed publications using genetics data to answer a variety of biological questions. He was inducted into the Hall of Excellence of the Genetics Section of the American Fisheries Society in 2015 for his many contributions to the field of fish genetics, including improving our understanding the genetic structure of the salmonid genome.

On campus he focused on graduate education. He was a chair of 28 PhD committees and 6 MS committees, and additionally a member of 20 PhD committees and 8 MS committees. He continued to counsel his former students after they graduated. He was an Ombudsman in the Ecology Graduate Group and helped numerous other faculty’s graduate students with professional issues that arose during their graduate careers. His students have gone on to successful careers in various State and Federal management agencies, academic institutions, NGOs and biotechnology companies.

Bernie retired from the GVL and his Adjunct Professor title in 2014 and handed the directorship of the GVL to Andrea Schreier and Mandi Finger, two of his former students; he continued part-time as a Research Professor for several years. He continues to live in Davis with Mary, several of their children and their children’s families.


B.S., Molecular Biology University of Washington, 1973.
M.S., Fisheries University of Washington, 1975.
Ph.D., Genetics The Pennsylvania State University, 1980.

Research Interest

Conservation biology; population genetics of natural populations, threatened and endangered species; genetic mapping of quantitative trait loci; genomic manipulation of commercially important aquatic species; effect of environmental stressors on natural gene pools.