This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Tuesday 11 June 2024, 7pm to 8pm
  • Location: In-person only
    Tempest Anderson Hall, Museum Gardens (Map)
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

Ever wondered why we have body odour? Have you ever considered that we might make it for a reason? While modern humans generally try to mask or stop its production, this is only a very recent change in human behaviour.

Microbiologist Gavin Thomas and his ‘Team BO’ from the Universities of York and Hull explain what body odour is and how it’s made on our bodies. Their research has revealed that certain natural skin bacteria are responsible for the ultimate production of BO molecules, but this is only the result of feeding on molecules that we naturally secrete in our underarms. At the same time their research is revealing the hidden complexity of these communities on the skin and how they can also work together to stop infections from disease-causing bacteria. 

They’ll also look at similar odour production systems in other animals and consider how these volatile chemicals can have important functions in animal behaviour. In doing so, they’ll address the resulting question – do humans produce pheromones, a chemical substance made by an animal which affects the behaviour of others of its species?

This event is presented by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society.

Find out more about the Yorkshire Philosophical Society.

About the speakers

Gavin Thomas is a Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Biology at the University of York and has broad ranging interests in how bacteria function in and on the human body, both the good ones and the bad ones. For over a decade now he has worked closely with Unilever on a project to understand the function of the bacteria that live in our armpits and how this relates to the production of human body odour. Find out about the Thomas Lab @York. @GavinHThomas 

Reyme Herman is a BBSRC-funded PhD student in the Department of Biology at the University of York and studying the bacterial communities that live in the human underarm and revealing the interactions they have with each other, both for BO production and for keeping the skin healthy.

Dr Michelle Rudden is a new Lecturer at the University of Hull, and worked to elucidate the function of Staphylococcal species in the production of BO when she worked at the University of York with Professor Thomas and Unilever.  She is starting her own research group to understand the role of the healthy skin microbiome in preventing opportunistic infections and in aiding wound healing with colleagues in the Hull York Medical School (HYMS). 



Yorkshire Philosophical Society

Venue details

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Hearing loop