AChemS Career Networking Seminar Series


A Tale of Two Routes: Retro- vs Ortho-nasal Olfaction

Robert Pellegrino, PhD and Kai Zhao, PhD
October 28, 2021 | 4:00 PM ET

Odorant perception can be achieved through two routes: orthonasal and retronasal, with the latter being an important component of flavor perception and much less understood. Drs. Robert Pellegrino and Kai Zhao will each tell their unique tales about these different route based on their distinct research from unique, but different backgrounds. Dr. Pellegrino is trained as Food Scientist and clinical researcher, applying sensory science techniques to help diagnose and understand patients with olfactory loss; whereas Dr. Zhao, is trained as a bioengineering, or more specifically respiratory biofluid mechanics, where he has applied computational approaches to understand the physiological fluid and transport problems in the upper respiratory and especially nasal airway.

“Tale of Perception” by Robert Pellegrino, Ph.D
When you smell bread in a bakery or bite into a baguette, you are sampling the same odor via two routes (orthonsal and retronasal). If this odor is perceived differently across routes, then there are two distinct senses wrapped up in one leading to the idea of a duality in smell. None of the other five senses has this property. However looking at perceptual differences across routes has been a challenge in human studies, as the retronasal stimuli needs to be presented within the mouth without stimulating other senses (e.g. taste and touch). The goal of this research was to develop several tools to measure retronsasal perception in humans.

“Tale of Aerodynamics” by Kai Zhao, Ph.D.
Olfaction begins with the transport of volatile chemical molecules through the complicated nasal airway structure and subsequent absorption into the olfactory mucosa, prior to any olfactory perception. The difference of airflow transport patterns between the different routes might contribute to the difference between retro vs orthonasal olfaction and its differences among different species.


The AChemS Mentoring and Networking Committee invites you to submit proposals to present in an on-going virtual seminar series targeted at facilitating scientific exchange, career development and networking. Early Career Applicants investigating the chemical senses in academic, industry, and clinical settings are all encouraged to apply.

Rolling Deadline Until Fall 2021

A junior and senior investigator will be paired up to present on their shared research interests. Pre and post seminar mentoring, such as seminar preparation and shared lab meetings will be encouraged to facilitate network development.

This seminar series will occur in a virtual Zoom room on the fourth Thursday of each month starting in January 2021. The seminars will start at alternating times: 11AM ET and 4PM ET to allow members in Europe and Asia to join. A recording of the seminar will be available on the AChemS website for all participants to view for up to 30 days. In addition to live seminars, ACHEMS MEMBERS may view any past seminar recording for no charge by emailing AChemS Executive Office. Each talk will be approximately 20 minutes, leaving time for 10 minutes of questions. There will be two talks per seminar: one from a senior and one from a junior researcher.

Junior investigators will receive an award that includes a monetary prize of $500 generously sponsored by Firmenich, the world’s largest privately-owned fragrance and taste company. Attendees to the Seminar Series can request a certificate of attendance detailing the sessions that they partake in.

Nomination or self-nomination from AChemS members are welcome. Waiver requests to the membership fees are considered on an individual basis and should not represent the only factor not to apply. Please complete the application form and include a C.V., a paragraph summary of current and future research plans and a brief description of the presentation topic (120 words).

The Mentoring and Networking Committee will make a decision on applications beginning in mid January and notify speakers.

Please address any questions to: Dr. Valentina Parma, Mentoring and Networking Committee Program Chair