Odor is much more than a whiff of a strange scent. Odor can provide clues about food, poison, disease, overall health, physical threats from the environment, reproduction, and even emotions and memories. Odor also was the star topic at a seminar hosted by the North Alabama chapter of the American Chemistry Society (ACS) and HudsonAlpha associate company Volatile Analysis Corporation at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology on October 29.

At the Chemistry of Odor seminar, Russell Bazemore, PhD, co-founder and leader for research and development at Volatile Analysis, presented information on odor and flavor and how they affect industry — and also can be used to diagnose disease. Bazemore has more than 20 years experience as a scientist and author working with odorous chemicals.

“We’re very happy to have the North Alabama chapter of ACS hold a seminar at HudsonAlpha,” said Carter Wells, vice president for economic development at HudsonAlpha. “Volatile Analysis established a presence on the HudsonAlpha campus recently, which is a real win for the community.”

Katherine Malmay-Bazemore, president and CEO of Volatile Analysis and president-elect of the local chapter of the ACS, said she was excited to involve HudsonAlpha in the seminar. “We are very excited to share some things in this whole area of the chemistry of odor that people are building careers around,” she said.

Volatile Analysis Corporation (VAC) is a privately held company that specializes in volatile chemical detection and measurement for medical and industrial purposes. The research group focuses on links between biomarkers and diagnosis of human and animal diseases, an area collectively known as volatile metabolomics. Scientists develop technologies to enhance successful volatile metabolite capture from various biological sources. Extraction technologies also have industrial applications. The analytical services group specializes in quantification of trace level and ultra-trace level (ng/g or parts per trillion and lower) chemicals responsible for odor and aroma. Sensory trained staff also review industrial processes and coordinate odor remediation efforts. Examples of industry served include: paper, packaging, pharmaceutical, food, beverage, textiles, manufacturing, automotive, apparel, and cosmetic.

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