Schering Stiftung


On Smell

Symposium | Art and Science in Dialogue

On Smell

Symposium | Art and Science in Dialogue


June 25, 2022, 9 a.m.–10 p.m.


Colonia Nova
Thiemannstrasse 1,
Tor 4, Haus 5
12059 Berlin

Registration for the event is closed.

The interdisciplinary symposium on the topic of smell and smelling provides a space for exploring the topic from a variety of perspectives and disciplines through lectures, discussions, workshops, and interactions. Speakers are artists, scholars, and scientists from the disciplines of philosophy, egyptology, neurosciences, psychology, and medicine, among others.

Speakers: Dr. Chris Callewaert, Biological Scientist, Ghent; Prof. Dr. Ilona Croy, Psychologist, Jena; Wolfgang Georgsdorf, Artist, Berlin; Dora Goldsmith, Egyptologist, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Bill S. Hansson, Neuroethologist, Jena; Prof. Dr. Thomas Hummel, Physician, Dresden; Angela Loi, Wine Expert, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Denise Manahan-Vaughan, Neurophysiologist, Bochum; Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Artist, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Manuel Selg, Microbiologist, Wels; Prof. Dr. Barry C. Smith, Philosopher, London;  Sissel Tolaas, Smell REsearcher and artist, Berlin; and others.


8:30 Registration

9:00–13:15 Talks and discussions – part 1
Prof. Dr. Barry C. Smith: Smell as the Not So Neglected Sense (Engl.)
Sissel Tolaas: AIRON_ONAIR. pAIRtitur (Engl.)
Prof. Dr. Denise Manahan-Vaughan: Why odours hold the key to our memories (Engl.)
Wolfgang Georgsdorf: Osmodrama – Journeys into the depths beyond the audiovisual space, followed by discussion on collaborations of scientific and artistic research on the human sense of smell with Prof. Dr. Ilona Croy and Prof. Dr. Thomas Hummel


14:00–16:00 Workshops, experience space and interactions
Dr. Chris Callewaert: Probiotic sprays and clothing, Prof. Dr. Ilona Croy: Sniffin Sticks, Dora Goldsmith: Ancient Egyptian Fragrances, Agnes Meyer-Brandis & Prof. Dr. Manuel Selg: How to Become a Tree for Another Tree

16:00–19:00 Talks and discussions – part 2
Agnes Meyer-Brandis and Prof. Dr. Bill S. Hansson: Smelling the Trees
Dr. Chris Callewaert: Harnessing the power of the microbiome to change body odors (Engl.)

19:00–19:45 Multi sensory wine tasting
Angela Loi

from 20:00 Dinner & Get-together


Chris Callewaert holds two masters and a PhD from Ghent University, Belgium. He was postdoctoral researcher at the Knight lab at University of California, San Diego, USA, and now is Senior Postdoctoral Research fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO). He studies the skin microbiome and metabolome and is specialized in body odor in relation to the bacteria in the armpits, clothes and washing machines. He is the first one to solve body odor by replacing bacteria of smelly people with those of non-smelly people. He presented a TED talk and results of his research can be found on


Ilona Croy received her doctorate and habilitation in psychology in Dresden and is a licensed psychological psychotherapist. After several years of research in Gothenburg and Linköping (Schweden), she first headed the research department at the psychosomatic clinic of the University Hospital Dresden. Since 2021, Ilona Croy has held the chair of clinical psychology at Friedrich Schiller University Jena. She researches the neuronal basis with which we sniff and grope our fellow human beings, is fascinated by brains and enthusiastic about large data sets. She strives to explain science in an understandable way and has received awards for her commitment to teaching and mentoring.


Wolfgang Georgsdorf, *1959 in Linz/Austria, studied art 1977-83, has lived in Berlin and Brandenburg since 1992. He is an artist, inventor, musician, author, director and draftsman. Most of his works, quite a few of them award-winning, combine science, art, technology or social processes, from perception and sign language research to instrument development, Expanded Cinema and multimodal sensory works to his main project for many years, the development of Smeller technology and Osmodrama, the time-based performance of olfactory sequences as a new artistic practice.


Dora Goldsmith is an Egyptologist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Master of Arts in Egyptology from Freie Universität Berlin. She is currently pursuing a PhD at Freie Universität Berlin on the topic of olfactory perception in ancient Egypt. The title of her dissertation project is "The Archaeology of Smell in Ancient Egypt. A Cultural Anthropological Study Based on Written Sources." Dora Goldsmith is investigating the olfactory world of ancient Egyptian society through written sources. She analyzes and translates ancient Egyptian texts that mention smells and uses them as a basis for determining the role of smells and scents in ancient Egypt. To better understand the written sources, she uses the method of experimental archaeology and reconstructs the scents that the ancient Egyptian texts describe. Two of her scent reconstructions have been exhibited in museums - the Mendesian Perfume at the National Geogpraphic Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Embalming Scent at the Okayama Orient Museum in Japan. Dora Goldsmith gives lectures and workshops around the world on her research findings and accompanies them with her inspiring fragrance reconstructions.


Bill Hansson defended his PhD in Animal Ecology at Lund University, Sweden, in 1988. After a two-year postdoc period at the University of Arizona, he returned to Lund as Assistant, Associate and Full Professor. In 2001, Hansson was recruited as Professor and Department Head to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. In 2006, he got the call as Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, where he now heads a department of more than 60 coworkers. Between 2014-2020, Hansson was Vice President of the Max Planck Society. His science centers on insect odor-guided behavior and its evolution.


Thomas Hummel does research in the chemosensory systems at the Smell and Taste Clinic of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology of the Technische Universität Dresden. This includes an olfactory/gustatory dysfunction clinic also involving patients with neurodegenerative causes of olfactory loss, and investigations in the intranasal trigeminal system. Investigations in these areas are performed using electrophysiological (olfactory event-related potentials, recordings from the mucosa of the nasal cavity), psychophysical, and imaging techniques (MRI). Thomas Hummel received his medical education in at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. There, he also went through a special program in Pharmacology and Toxicology (“Habilitation”) which was guided by Dr. Gerd Kobal. As a post-doc he stayed in 1994 at the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA. Further, from 1997 to 1998 Dr. Hummel was Assistant Professor at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA where he worked at the Smell and Taste Center under guidance of Dr. Richard L. Doty. Since 1998 Dr. Hummel started a Smell and Taste Clinic at the Department of ORL of the University of Dresden where he sees approximately 1000 patients per year. He is author/co-author of more than 700 peer-reviewed, original publications, more than 80 reviews in the chemosensory area, over 50 chapters and editor of three books in the scientific literature.


Denise Manahan-Vaughan is head of the Institute of Physiology within the Medical Faculty of Ruhr University Bochum. Her primary degree specialised in Physiology and her PhD was in Neuropharmacology (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland). After finishing her PhD, she moved, from her native Ireland, to Germany and following research appointments at the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, Magdeburg and the Institute of Physiology, Charité, Berlin, she moved to the Ruhr University. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that enable long-term memory storage, especially within our primary memory structure:  the hippocampus.  Because complex memories rely heavily on sensory experience, she also explores how sensory structures, such as the olfactory and visual systems, interact with the hippocampus. She has published over 170 research articles and has established and coordinated several large research consortia that focus on  memory mechanisms, including her current consortium “Integration and Representation of Sensory Processes” funded by the German Research Foundation.


Agnes Meyer-Brandis is a Berlin-based artist with a focus on sculptural practice and new media. She creates works at the intersection of science, fiction and fable. Initially trained in mineralogy, followed by studies at art academies in Maastricht, Düsseldorf, and Cologne, she is the founder and director of 'Forschungsfloß', an "institute for art and subjective science," that purposefully "asks questions but does not provide answers" in areas such as climate research, environmental studies, meteorology, synthetic and artistic biology. Meyer-Brandis' work has been exhibited worldwide and has won numerous awards, including the Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction and the European KAIROS Prize from the Alfred Toepfer Foundation F.V.S.


Manuel Selg completed his studies in molecular biology and chemistry at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He then received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from Loyola University Chicago. This was followed by thirteen years of basic research in the medical field at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg and the University of Lund before he took a position as a Molecular Biology Professor at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, Faculty of Engineering at the Wels Campus in 2004. Today, he is Head of Studies of the Bio- and Environmental Technology study program. Manuel Selg has been active in the field of bioart for about 13 years. He has already worked on a wide range of projects with various artists, curated several exhibitions and is very fond of using bioart as a means of promoting social dialogue.


Barry C Smith is a Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. He is the founding director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses, which pioneers collaborative research between philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists. His recent research is on taste, smell and the multisensory perception of flavour involves collaborations with neuroscientists, clinicians and patient advocates. He has published theoretical and empirical articles in Nature, Food Quality and Preference and Flavour, Chemical Senses, Foods and is the editor of Questions of Taste: the philosophy of wine (Oxford University Press 2008). He recently created a Centre for Olfactory Research and Applications (CORA), which has focused on post-Covid anosmia and parosmia.


Sissel Tolaas has been working, researching, and experimenting extensively with the topic of smell since 1990, taking a pioneering and unique approach to smells. She has developed a wide range of revolutionary interdisciplinary smell-related projects worldwide based upon her knowledge of forensic chemistry, chemical communication, sensory ecology, linguistics, and the visual arts. Tolaas established the SMELL RE_searchLab Berlin in January 2004 with support from IFF Inc. Tolaas has unique skills in smell recognition, analysis and reproduction/replication. She has researched and experimented with smells in many diverse contexts and for multiple purposes and formats. Her research and projects have been awarded numerous national and international scholarships, honors, and prizes. Tolaas has shown her work in many museums and institutions worldwide, including MOMA New York, NGV Melbourne, DIA New York, NTU CCA Singapore, Tate Modern London, Minsheng Museum Shanghai, and MORI Tokyo. She has worked with universities such as MIT, Nanyang Technical, Tsinghua, Harvard, and Oxford. Since 1996, Tolaas has done 55 City SmellScapes research projects of, for and with major cities in six countries. She has built several types of smell archives such as Smell & Communication/Language, Smell & Coding, Smell & Anthropocene, and Smell & Extinction. She is currently working on smell-molecule preservation/conservation archives of the world’s oceans and forests and on smell artefacts and a smell heritage archive for the Pompeii Ruins. Tolaas’s collections of smell molecules and smell structures include 15,000 smell samples and formulas.



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