AChemS 2018 – an impression by NOSE member Sanne Boesveldt
AChemS, the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, is a scientific research
organization dedicated to understanding the "chemical senses" of smell, taste, trigeminal
irritation and internal chemoreception from the fundamentals of neurobiology to complex
behavior (achems.org). It’s annual conference is hosted in Florida in April, when the
weather is a nice 28-30C, so whenever there’s an empty spot in the program, attendees
can hang out at the pool, the beach or enjoy the waterslides.
The program started with satellite symposia on central mechanisms for chemosensory
processing and perception, chaired by Max Fletcher and Dan Wesson, ranging from very
fundamental talks on olfactory neuron types or olfactory memory in zebrafish, to more
human-oriented work on the gut-brain axis, or the effect of sleep deprivation on smell
and eating behavior.
As Barry Jacobs memorial-awardee (for research excellence in the psychophysics of taste
and smell), I was asked to present my work on neural plasticity of flavor processing in
the James Battey award session at the end of the conference. In addition to another talk
in the ‘Human olfaction – Frontiers and Challenges’ symposium, plus co-chairing the
Clinical Symposium (on the effects of PTSD in war veterans and traumatic brain injury in
relation to smell) and some networking meetings it was quite a hectic week for me!
Nonetheless, despite all the stress, I think everything worked out very well, and I was
very pleased with the conference as a whole, also as it seemed to feature more human
science than usual. E.g. in addition there was a symposium on bariatric surgery and
weight loss (potentially mediated by changes in flavor perception), and on food texture
and oral processing in relation to ingestive behavior.
Other NOSE members present included Monique Smeets, who presented a poster on
smelling an emotional fingerprint, and Jasper de Groot, who is now a postdoc at UPenn
with Jay Gottfried learning neuroimaging techniques.
This year was AChemS 40 th birthday, so an adhoc social committee had planned a dance
party to end the conference with a bang! After some initial hesitations, everyone ended
up on the dance floor, and even requested ‘one more song’ when the DJ was done.
AChemS, always a great combination of science, fun and sun! Till next year.