Joel D. Mainland



Member, Monell Chemical Senses Center
Co-Chair, Monell Postdoctoral Training Program
Adjunct Associate 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

Arshamian A, Gerkin RC, Kruspe N, Wnuk E, Floyd S, O’Meara C, Garrido Rodriguez G, Lundström JN, Mainland JD, Majid A. (2022) The perception of odor pleasantness is shared across cultures. Current Biology, S0960-9822(22)00332-3.

Lee BK, Mayhew EJ, Sanchez-Lengeling B, Wei JN, Qian WW, Little K, Andres M, Nguyen BB, Moloy T, Parker JK, Gerkin RC, Mainland JD, Wiltschko AB. (2022) A Principal Odor Map Unifies Diverse Tasks in Human Olfactory Perception. bioRxiv 2022.09.01.504602.

Li B, Kamarck ML, Peng Q, Lim FL, Keller A, Smeets MAM, Mainland JD, Wang S. (2022) From musk to body odor: decoding olfaction through genetic variation. PLoS Genetics, 18(2):e1009564.

Mayhew EJ, Arayata CJ, Gerkin RC, Lee BK, Magill JM, Snyder LL, Little KA, Yu CW, Mainland JD. (2022) Transport features predict if a molecule is odorous. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(15):e2116576119.

Pellegrino R, Mainland JD, Kelly CE, Parker JK, Hummel T. (2021) Prevalence and correlates of parosmia and phantosmia among smell disorders. Chemical Senses, bjab046.

Joel Mainland

Contact Information

(267) 519-4660