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AChems Members in the News

In an effort to highlight chemosensory science and scientists, we welcome and encourage AChemS members to let us know about any of your chemical senses accomplishments. Please let us know about any contributions that have been recognized by a third party such as newspapers, radio, science news websites, etc. Send your information to the AChemS executive office (info@achems.org) to potentially be published on the AChemS website.

Babies

Watch Julie Mennella in the second installment of #BabiesOnNetflix in the "Senses" episode, starting this Friday June 19th, where it explores how what mom eats during pregnancy shapes her baby’s food preferences and that a baby’s palate and food memories are shaped before birth.

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Why COVID-19 Makes People Lose Their Sense of Smell

One morning a few weeks ago I was chatting with my friend Horacio, a mathematician in the New York City area. He told me he’d lost his sense of smell for a couple of weeks in April. He was cooking for Passover and couldn’t even smell the gefilte fish. He didn’t think much of it and didn’t connect it to the fact that he had been slightly ill for a few days. I suggested that he get tested for antibodies of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; and that he take an online survey for smell and taste symptoms associated with recent respiratory illness (more on that shortly). It turned out Horacio had antibodies, so he signed up to donate plasma. This was a lucky diagnosis aided by timing and geography; smell and taste symptoms associated specifically with COVID-19 seem to appear as sudden hyposmia or anosmia (decrease or loss of smell), but just because you can’t smell doesn’t mean you have the virus.

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For Some With Coronavirus, Loss of Smell and Taste Can Linger

In late April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added the loss of smell and taste to the list of known COVID-19 symptoms. Some experience this symptom along with others, like fever, cough, and shortness of breath; others experience it on its own. Now, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, some who experienced the loss in senses have yet to see them return.

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How Will We Buy Our Perfume Now?

The way fragrance is introduced, advertised and sold to the world hasn’t changed in nearly a century. No. 5, a seductive scent for the modern woman introduced by Coco Chanel in the 1920s, is marketed similarly to Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, a “modern” and “alluring potion” that came out in 2006. Both designers’ fragrances depend on an in-store experience that conjures these ideas and feelings through smell, somehow enticing people to spend over $100 on a bottle of scented water.

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Smell You Later: How Comfort Smelling Can Relieve Quarantine-Related Stress

Your weeks of home quarantine, with all the excitement that FaceTime cocktail hours and Zoom yoga classes have to offer, may be making your life feel increasingly lonely and confusing. But your nose knows a good way to beat those blues: comfort smelling.

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Remembering former dean Maxwell M. Mozell, whose nearly 50-year career at Upstate was ‘his life’

Longtime Upstate Medical University College of Graduate Studies Dean and SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Maxwell M. Mozell, PhD, died March 28 in New York City from COVID-19. Mozell, who would have turned 91 in May, worked at Upstate for nearly 50 years and served as dean from 1990 to 2008.

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Heroes of the pandemic: Canadian professor has a peanut butter sniff test to combat COVID-19

The cocktail party kicked off at 4:30pm on a Saturday in late March, an event held over Zoom and featuring three women, all academics, including two Canadians, bound by friendship and a shared professional interest in the chemical senses, that is, taste (gustation) and smell (olfaction).
Dana Small, a Victoria, B.C. native now at Yale, with a dual professorship in psychology and psychiatry, was engaged in ground-breaking research on the “gut,” and how the modern food environment plays tricks on our system before the pandemic hit. She opted for red wine, as did Theresa White, another foodie/sensory psychology expert at Le Moyne College in upstate New York, while Rachel Herz, the other Canadian, and an adjunct professor at Brown University in Providence, R.I., chose white.
Around the time of the party, reports were starting to surface about a percentage of COVID-19 patients who experienced a profound loss of smell, an aspect of the rapidly advancing global virus the three professors took as a sign, perhaps, that their expertise in all-things olfactory might come in handy.
“I said, ‘We need to come up with a test,’ Small says. “So we started brainstorming.”

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AF physician advises, ‘follow your nose’ to early COVID-19 diagnosis

An ear, nose and throat surgeon in the Air Force Research Laboratory assembled a multi-national team of nine other medical professionals to consolidate their front-line observations and recommendations regarding early symptoms of patients infected with COVID-19, in an article that was published online April 15 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Col. (Dr.) Michael Xydakis, who works in AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing, and this team state that during this pandemic, the sudden onset of difficulty with smell (anosmia) or taste (dysgeusia), with no other nasal congestion or other symptoms, should cause healthcare providers to exercise increased caution.

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What it’s like to suffer from the coronavirus’s weirdest symptom

On the first day of spring, Grace Lawlor woke up, brushed her teeth and realized she couldn’t taste her toothpaste. Then she took a shower, and realized she couldn’t smell her shampoo. It struck her as odd, but nothing to be too worried about; she felt otherwise fine.
“My roommate and I were almost laughing about it,” says Lawlor, 25, who lives in Boston. “Like, what the heck is this? It was the craziest thing.”
The roommate didn’t believe her, so she decided to prove it by putting hot sauce on her tongue.
“It was as if I was drinking milk,” she says. “I could literally bite into an onion like it was an apple. And there was just nothing there. It was just absolutely bizarre.”

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Proteins that sense light also sense taste, at least in fruit flies

Like many animals, you couldn’t see without proteins called opsins, which dwell in the light-sensitive cells of your eyes. A new study reveals for the first time that fruit flies can also use some of these proteins, nestled at the tip of their nose, to taste noxious molecules in their food. Opsins in our bodies could also serve the same function, researchers speculate.

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How Powerful is Your Sense of Smell?

Did you ever wonder why a smell can trigger a memory? Or how smell actually helps you choose your mate? Neuroscientist Rachel Herz joins us to tell us about the amazing powers our nose possesses.

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Psych Professor Leads COVID-19 Chemosensory Global Research

Psychology Research Assistant Professor Valentina Parma and her colleagues at the Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research (GCCR) are seeking to find out if smell and taste issues, which a number of COVID-19 patients have reported experiencing, could be additional symptoms. Dr. Parma is chair of the GCCR Leadership Team, which heads up the consortium of approximately 500 (and growing) professors, scientists, clinicians and patient advocates working in the consortium from 38 different countries across six continents.

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Intel trains neuromorphic chip to detect 10 different odors

Intel and Cornell University today published a joint paper demonstrating the ability of Intel’s neuromorphic chip, Loihi, to learn and recognize 10 hazardous materials from smell — even in the presence of “significant” data noise and occlusion. The coauthors say it shows how neuromorphic computing could be used to detect the precursor smells to explosives, narcotics, polymers, and more.

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What’s the World’s Worst Smell?

In 1998, Pamela Dalton, a cognitive psychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, was tasked with developing a stink bomb for the Department of Defense. Her experiments found that people from different backgrounds and different parts of the world, who grew up smelling and eating different things, often completely disagreed about which smells were good or bad.

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Why Can't You Smell Your Own House?

Everybody's house smells in some way. There are the temporary smells of bread in the oven, or a fresh bouquet of flowers ... or dog farts. But there's also that particular way that your house just ... smells.
You almost never even notice the way your own place smells. You notice the way everyone else's place smells as soon as you walk in. There are their cats, and their laundry soap, and the new carpet they just got. And those all add up to the way their house smells.
But you can only smell your own house after you've been away for a while — like, a long while. Not just a workday, but like a week.

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Sniffing Out Danger

Breathe deeply - what can you smell? We live in a landscape of scents - but unlike sniffer dogs, we don't have the ability to identify and read them. Until now. Scientists are training not just dogs, but bees, mice and electronic noses to sniff out security threats by odour alone. Amber Marks explores the growth of olfactory surveillance, finding out about the challenges of harnessing and mimicking nature, and asking about the implications of harnessing this world of scents.

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Why Do Smells Trigger Strong Memories?

The delicious scent of baking bread wafting out from the open doors of a nearby bakery can act like a time portal, instantly sweeping you from a busy street in New York to a tiny cafe in Paris that you visited years ago. Scent particles, in general, can revive memories that have been long forgotten.
But why do smells sometimes trigger powerful memories, especially emotional ones?

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Can Babies Learn to Love Vegetables?

In a laboratory in Denver, on a decommissioned U.S. Army base, a baby sits in a high chair with two electrodes attached to his chest. To his left, on a small table, a muffin tin holds four numbered cups, each filled with a green substance. On the walls and the ceiling, four cameras and an omnidirectional microphone record the baby’s every burble and squawk, then transmit them to a secure server in an adjacent room. What looks like a window with blinds, across the room from the baby, is in fact a two-way mirror with a researcher behind it, scribbling notes. The baby’s mother takes a spoonful of the first sample and lifts it to the baby’s mouth, and the experiment begins.

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Special sensory cells in gums protect against periodontitis

Newly discovered chemical-sensing cells in the gums protect the mouth by standing guard against infections that damage soft tissue and destroy the bone that supports the teeth. With the help of bitter taste receptors that also detect byproducts from harmful bacteria, these special gum cells trigger the immune system to control the amount and type of bacteria in the mouth and could one day lead to personalized dental treatments against gum disease.

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A Dash of Hope: Revealing the Mystery Behind How We Taste Salt

Salt has played an essential role in trade, culture and nutrition throughout history – as far back as 6050 B.C., according to some reports. However, in all that time, one mystery has remained: How exactly do humans and animals taste salt?

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Is there a cure for loss of smell?

Around 5% of us will lose our sense of smell because of a viral infection, ageing, nasal polyps or a head injury. Anosmia can affect quality of life and lead to mental health problems like depression. Prof Thomas Hummel, an ear, nose and throat expert at the University of Dresden in Germany, explains how smell training can help some people with the condition regain their sense of smell.

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Proton Channel for Sensing Sour Taste Identified in Mice

When we eat sour food, we instantaneously react due to a taste-sensing circuit between the tongue and the brain. Two papers published today (September 19)—one in Cell and the other in Current Biology—show that the otopetrin-1 proton channel in the tongue’s sour taste receptors is one of the components responsible for sour taste sensing in mice.

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Do Older People Have a Different Smell?

During an extended period of travel last year, my husband and I lent our house in the Ozarks to an older couple who were having work done on their own house.
We returned after a month away to a spotless house and two hostess gifts. But there was also a distinctive smell in the air: slightly stale and sweet, like the musty first whiff of strawberries in a cardboard box.

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How a Hotel Gets Its Signature Scent

Six years ago, Atelier Cologne founder Sylvie Ganter was presented with a challenge by her husband and business partner Christophe Cervasel: to create a signature scent for Majestic, a five-star hotel located in the heart of Barcelona, in celebration of its 100-year anniversary. She had six years of developing, conceiving, and perfecting fragrances for her consumers. But for a building? “I had no clue where to even start,” she recalls. “I had never done anything like this.”

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Building a Silicon Brain

In 2012, computer scientist Dharmendra Modha used a powerful supercomputer to simulate the activity of more than 500 billion neurons—more, even, than the 85 billion or so neurons in the human brain. It was the culmination of almost a decade of work, as Modha progressed from simulating the brains of rodents and cats to something on the scale of humans.

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It’s not your fault that you eat so much sugar

Americans tend to associate our health problems with sin. It’s hard to find a health story in the press that doesn’t blame greed and lack of willpower for our ongoing epidemics of obesity and diabetes as well as a recent upturn in the rate of heart disease. But the problems stem more from a greedy food industry than from any weakness in consumers. Our supermarket shelves are filled with items made with cheap ingredients, especially sugar and corn syrup, whether people want it or not.

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Stem Cells Delivered to the Nose Restore Mice’s Ability to Smell

In mice whose sense of smell has been disabled, a squirt of stem cells into the nose can restore olfaction, researchers report today (May 30) in Stem Cell Reports. The introduced “globose basal cells,” which are precursors to smell-sensing neurons, engrafted in the nose, matured into nerve cells, and sent axons to the mice’s olfactory bulbs in the brain.

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You Will Never Smell My World the Way I Do

The scent of lily of the valley cannot be easily bottled. For decades companies that make soap, lotions and perfumes have relied on a chemical called bourgeonal to imbue their products with the sweet smell of the little white flowers. A tiny drop can be extraordinarily intense.
If you can smell it at all, that is. For a small percentage of people, it fails to register as anything.

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