April 26, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 15

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    Martha McClintock will speak on her research at Ryerson Lecture

    By William Harms
    News Office

    Martha McClintock, the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology

    Martha McClintock, the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology, will deliver a talk titled “Scents and Sensibility: Pheromones, Social Dynamics and the Control of Fertility and Disease” at this year’s Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture.

    One of the University’s most distinguished events, the Ryerson Lecture provides an opportunity for a senior faculty member to present recent research to the University and broader communities.

    This year’s lecture will begin at 6 p.m., Wednesday, May 9, in Max Palevsky Cinema, in Ida Noyes Hall.

    In her research, McClintock has examined the relationship between mind, behavior and the functioning of the neural and endocrine systems.

    Among her discoveries is the first conclusive scientific evidence of human pheromones, compounds undetectable as odors that have a major influence on the timing of ovulation.

    In another discovery, she and postdoctoral fellow Suma Jacob established the presence of chemical signals that improve mood in women but have the opposite effect on men. These unconscious chemosignals are steroids that are produced in the body and found in blood, sweat and tears. They are commonly used in perfumes.

    Last year, she and her team announced that they had discovered a duct leading to the nasal cavity in humans, that in other mammals serves as a social-chemical detection system.

    McClintock is Director of the Institute for Mind and Biology, which is housed in the Biopsychological Sciences Building. She and colleagues associated with the institute are raising new questions about how social interactions regulate gene expression and thus affect both normal biological function and disease.

    Their further collaborations will examine the intricate relationships between biology and behavior.

    A faculty member at the University since 1978, McClintock was recognized for her teaching skills with the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching in 1994. She received her B.A. in 1969 from Wellesley College and her M.A. in 1972 and Ph.D. in 1974 from the University of Pennsylvania.