Wed • Apr

Wednesday, April 26, 2017



The New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029


Free, but advanced registration is required

Perfumery may possibly be the second oldest business in the history of mankind. However, olfaction, the sense of smell, has attracted systematic interest in scientific studies only recently. The discovery of the olfactory receptor genes by Linda Buck and Richard Axel in 1991 catapulted olfaction into neurobiological research.

This talk focuses on the difficulty of scientifically studying olfaction. What is the material “smelling principle” underlying the variety of odorous plant and animal materials? How do you “materialize” the perceptual process of smelling? And by what criteria can you test your ideas about smell as a perceptible and qualitatively rich but invisible dimension of matter?

This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series presented in collaboration with The Center for Science and Society at Columbia University.

About the Speaker

Ann-Sophie Barwich is a bench philosopher and historian of science with specialization in neuroscience, general biology, and chemistry. Her work is on current and past developments in olfactory research (1600 to today). She received her PhD at Exeter (Egenis/The Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences) under the supervision of John Dupré in 2013, before taking up a postdoctoral fellowship at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research. Her thesis examined classification and modeling strategies through which scientists have linked odors to a material basis (botanical, chemical, molecular-biological, neurophysiological), and her postdoctoral project concerned the role of methodology in measurement and wet-lab discovery. As a current scholar in the Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience program at the Center for Science and Society, Columbia University, she focuses on the role of ‘research routines’ in scientific training and practice.