Joel D. Mainland



Associate Member, Monell Chemical Senses Center
Co-Chair, Monell Postdoctoral Training Program
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania


Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of California, Berkeley

Research Summary

A fundamental problem in neuroscience is mapping the physical properties of a stimulus to perceptual characteristics. In vision, wavelength translates into color; in audition, frequency translates into pitch. By contrast, the mapping from chemical structure to olfactory percept is unknown. In other words, there is not a scientist or perfumer in the world who can view a novel molecular structure and predict how it will smell. My research goal is to develop a predictive model relating molecular structure and olfactory perception using a combined psychophysical and molecular approach.


olfaction, psychophysics, cell culture, neuroscience, genetics, behavioral analysis

Representative Publications

Reed DR, Mainland JD, Arayata CJ. (2019) Sensory nutrition: The role of taste in the reviews of commercial food products. Physiology & Behavior, 209, 112579.

Saraiva LR, Riveros-McKay F, Mezzavilla M, Abou-Moussa EH, Arayata CJ, Makhlouf M, Trimmer C, Ibarra-Soria X, Khan M, Van Gerven L, Jorissen M, Gibbs M, O’Flynn C, McGrane S, Mombaerts P, Marioni JC, Mainland JD, Logan DW. (2019) A transcriptomic atlas of mammalian olfactory mucosae reveals an evolutionary influence on food odor detection in humans. Science Advances, 5, eaax0396.

Singh V, Murphy NR, Balasubramanian V, Mainland JD. (2019) Competitive binding predicts nonlinear responses of olfactory receptors to complex mixtures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 116, 9598-9603.

Kida H, Fukutani Y, Mainland JD, de March CA, Vihani A, Li YR, Chi Q, Toyama A, Liu L, Kameda M, Yohda M, Matsunami H. (2018) Vapor detection and discrimination with a panel of odorant receptors. Nature Communications, 9, 4556.

Boesveldt S, Postma EM, Boak D, Welge-Luessen A, Schöpf V, Mainland JD, Martens J, Ngai J, Duffy VB. (2017) Anosmia-A Clinical Review. Chemical Senses, 42, 513-523.

Joel Mainland

Contact Information

(267) 519-4660