Press Releases

Purchase College School of Natural and Social Sciences Partners with the New York Academy of Sciences and Science & the City to Bring Public Science Events to Westchester County in 2009

Date Released: 1/9/2009

The Purchase College School of Natural and Social Sciences is partnering with the New York Academy of Sciences for Science & the City, a lecture series that will bring public science events to Westchester County in 2009.

"Scents and Sensibility: The Science of Smell in Everyday Life," on February 23, will feature world-renowned olfactory experts Avery Gilbert and Stuart Firestein discussing the cultural history of scent and the science of smell.  The lecture will be given at 7 PM in The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College.  Tickets are $15 and may be ordered through the Box Office at  914-251-6200 or

In their talk, Columbia University Professor Stuart Firestein and fragrance industry expert and author Avery Gilbert will discuss scent as it pertains to memory, food, danger and mating partners. Together, Gilbert, who once co-authored the largest scratch-and-sniff test in the history of mankind, and Firestein, who investigates why the vertebrate nose is the best chemical detector on the planet, answer the fundamental human question: How do I smell?
Scents & Sensibility examines the cultural implications of scent using examples from literature, art and music, demonstrating the multifaceted role these disciplines play in science and our lives.

Among the topics they will cover are: Did you know that the human nose is almost as sensitive as that of the dog?  Or that most of what we think of as flavor originates from the nose, not the tongue?

Avery Gilbert is the author of What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life, (Random House, June 2008). He has conducted research on human odor perception in academic laboratories and in the Research and Development divisions of multinational perfume companies.

Stuart Firestein is a professor of biological sciences at Columbia University specializing in the molecular physiology of olfactory transduction. His laboratory explores the interaction of various chemicals, such as neurotransmitters, hormones, and peptides, with membrane receptors regulate the activity of all cells in the nervous system.

"We are proud of this new partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences," said Thomas J. Schwarz, President of Purchase College. "The Academy, founded in 1817, is one of the oldest scientific societies in the United States with more than 25,000 members in 140 countries. It is dedicated to creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity and we are the only institution outside Manhattan to have this kind of relationship with the Academy. The sciences at Purchase are some of our most popular and vibrant majors, which may seem surprising for a college known to excel in the performing and visual arts. Our science programs offer students the opportunity to study and do research with accomplished faculty in a rich liberal arts environment. We have an exceptional pre-medical studies program that prepares students for graduate professional studies in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and other allied health fields. Our partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences and our participation in Science & the City lectures confirms our commitment to the students and to the community that the sciences are alive and well at Purchase."

A book signing of Gilbert's What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life will follow the lecture.

Tickets: $15 may be ordered through the box office of The Performing Arts Center at 251-6200, or at