What’s that smell? Conference to explore the science of ‘odor space’
Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Central Government and also in Education
A Leicester academic has brought together experts from around the world for a conference exploring how we perceive smells.
Dr Tim Pearce, a Reader in Bioengineering in the University of Leicester’s Department of Engineering, has co-organised Odor spaces –Integrating our Knowledge on Chemical, Sensory, Perceptual and Physical Aspects of Smell with Dr Michael Schmucker of Freie Universitat Berlin and Dr Amir Madany at the Universitat Luebeck.
The four-day symposium will be held in Hanover, Germany, from 4 to 7 September and will include more than 60 experts from universities across the globe.
Although most of us use our sense of smell every day, our scientific understanding of the sense of smell is not as advanced as our knowledge of sight or hearing.
The conference will investigate the concept of ‘odor space’ – a term which describes different aspects of the sense of smell.
These include the chemical properties of the smell; our sensory response to the chemicals; our perception of the ‘meaning’ of the smell; and the physical space the smell exists in.
Understanding how these aspects of ‘odor space’ relate to each other is crucial to advance our knowledge on olfaction, which is essential for research and development the food and perfume industry. ‘Odor space’ knowledge is also key to developing artificial noses and prosthetics.
Unraveling the meaning of ‘odor space’ requires integrating many different disciplines all part of a rapidly growing research community, including biochemistry, molecular genetics, neuroscience, psychology, physics, engineering and computer science.
The aim of the 1st International Workshop on ‘Odor spaces’ is to bring together leading scientists and young researchers to jointly tackle the huge tasks to create a unifying perspective on ‘Odor Spaces.’
There will be a combination of data presentations by young researchers with big-picture accounts by senior experts in the field. A large part of the symposium is devoted to discussion to develop new and meaningful insights into the chemical sense.
Dr Tim Pearce said: “We hope that this will be the first in a series of such exciting events to deepen our understanding of the chemical, physiological, technological and perceptual basis of smell.”
Among the attendees will be renowned scientists Professor Noam Sobel, from the Weizmann Institut of Science in Israel, and Dr Stuart Firestein from the Columbia University in New York.
Additional insights will be given by French perfumer Christophe Laudamiel – who will use interactive sense sculptures to show how olfactory perception can be experienced from an artistic perspective.
The event is funded by Volkswagen Foundation – which holds symposiums on new ideas and research in any area of science at its newly built conference centre Herrenhausen Palace in Hanover, Germany.
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