Women & Science

14th Annual Women & Science Spring Lecture and Luncheon

Scent and Behavior: An Evocative Relationship

Date: Thursday, May 12, 2011 Place: 1230 York Avenue at 66th Street
Time: 12:00 noon – 2:00 p.m   Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Hall
      The Rockefeller University
      New York City

Evolution gave human beings the ability to perceive thousands of different odors—a tool for survival in the natural world. Then, human imagination and industry stepped in. Since the early Egyptian dynasties, people have been distilling and re-formulating ingredients from nature to heighten their experience of scent. A great perfume is much more than the product of sophisticated chemistry: it is history come to life, an ideal blend of science and art. 

This year’s Women & Science Spring Lecture and Luncheon program will be dedicated to the fascinating sense of smell, from genetics to aesthetics.  Our featured speaker is Rockefeller scientist Leslie Vosshall, one of the leaders in olfaction research today.  Dr. Vosshall’s laboratory has produced surprising revelations about olfaction and human behavior, for example, showing that some individual preferences in scent are written in our genes.  This research builds on her fundamental studies of odor perception in insects—work that is fueling initiatives to control mosquitoes that carry global diseases such as malaria.

In Dr. Vosshall’s view, the study of olfaction can expand our understanding of the parts of the brain that rouse emotions and awaken memories.  Her presentation will touch on topics that extend beyond the work of her laboratory, including the role of olfaction in human sexual attraction and mother-infant bonding.  The ensuing discussion may also explore potential medical applications of odor perception, including efforts to employ the highly sensitive noses of dogs in cancer diagnosis.

A few years ago, Leslie Vosshall met Frédéric Malle, the Paris-based perfumer whose company has gained international recognition for creativity and innovation.  Discovering many areas of shared interest, the scientist and the perfumer began a conversation about the art of fragrance that will continue when Mr. Malle joins Dr. Vosshall on the stage of Caspary Auditorium on May 12.  Together, they will inspire us through their knowledge and passion for the evocative sense.


For ticket information, please call Amanda Martinez at (212) 327-7728
or email martina@rockefeller.edu.

Honorary Chairman

David Rockefeller

Founding Chairmen

Lydia A. Forbes
Isabel P. Furlaud
Nancy M. Kissinger
Sydney R. Shuman

2017 W&S Chairmen

Judith Roth Berkowitz
Debra Black
Rebecca A. John
Denise Kellen
Samantha Boardman Rosen, M.D.
Patricia P. Rosenwald
Lulu C. Wang

2017 W&S Committee

full committee listing

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