March 18, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 12

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    McClintock receives DSP appointment

    By William Harms
    News Office

    Martha McClintock, who researches the relationship between mind, behavior and the functioning of the neural and endocrine systems, has been named the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology.

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

    “These data demonstrate that humans have the potential to communicate phenomenally, either by using an unidentified part of the main olfactory system, or perhaps with a sixth sense, with its own unique pathway,” she writes in an article co-authored with private-industry researcher Kathleen Stern (Ph.D. ’92) and published in the March 12, 1998, issue of Nature.

    Their research establishes the presence of two pheromones. One, produced prior to ovulation, shortens the ovarian cycle, and a second, produced just at ovulation, lengthens the cycle. This research follows earlier studies by McClintock that showed women living together develop synchronized menstrual cycles. She also has looked at the effect of pheromones on rat behavior. In rats, as in other animals, pheromones play a major role in regulating behavior.

    She and other researchers doing some of the nation”s most advanced work on the relationship between psychology and the neural and endocrine systems have a new home at the University in the new Biopsychological Sciences Building at 940 E. 57th St. The new research building, where McClintock will continue her investigations, was dedicated in a ceremony last November. The facility is used for such areas of research as behavioral endocrinology, social neurosciences, immunobiology, human neuropsychology and endocrinology, and the molecular genetics of complex behaviors.

    McClintock has been a faculty member at the University since 1978. She was recognized for her teaching skills at Chicago 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.