Newswise — PHILADELPHIA (May 9, 2023) – After an international search, the Board of Directors of the Monell Chemical Senses Center announces that Benjamin P.C. Smith, PhD, Director of the Singapore Future Ready Food Safety Hub, will be the next Monell Director and President. Acting Director and President Nancy E. Rawson, PhD, FCPP will remain in this position until Smith arrives at Monell later this year. He will be the fourth permanent director in Monell’s 55-year history.

An international leader in food and fragrance research, Smith has an extensive track record of building science programs and collaboration across academia, industry, and government. He is also the Director of the Singapore-based A*STAR Innovations in Food & Chemical Safety Programme, as well as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Food Toxicology and Risk Assessment at Nanyang Technological University. His doctoral training is in environmental toxicology from the University of Adelaide in Australia. Smith has worked at the intersection of taste, smell, and nutrition for most of his career, including senior positions at Firmenich, the world’s largest privately owned flavor and fragrance company.

“Ben’s sheer breadth of research and leadership roles contribute to his success at building and fostering innovative scientific partnerships with universities, the private sector, and government entities,” said David Macnair, PhD, Chair, Monell Board of Directors. “This extensive set of skills uniquely positions him to lead Monell through a stage of explosive growth.”

Smith will take the helm at a time when the world is experiencing exciting advances in sustainable food production, new understanding of smell loss and disease, and the possibility of using AI to detect and create odors – making Monell’s interdisciplinary research in taste, smell, and related senses more important than ever. In this historic environment, the Monell Foundation awarded the Center a transformative grant of up to $26 million, to further expand its contributions as the world’s premier independent basic chemosensory research institute. Monell aims to significantly expand its faculty and staff positions in the next five years, complete major renovations to its buildings in University City, and engage in novel industry-academic partnerships.

“Ben has the broad experience to lead Monell’s distinguished position on the global stage as a champion of the role of sensory science in human health,” said Judith Wellington, PhD, Monell Board member and chair of the search committee. “Throughout his career he has shown an incredible ability to visualize how excellent basic science can lead to important strategies to improve many aspects of human health.”

Smith says the decision to accept the Monell Directorship is akin to a homecoming to work with the Center’s faculty and staff to build the future. His first stint at Monell was as a postdoctoral fellow from 2002 to 2003 studying behavioral genetics in the lab of Monell Director Emeritus Gary Beauchamp, PhD.

“My career has been built around the formation of scientific teams to meet industry and regulatory needs,” said Smith. “I enjoy bringing diverse groups of scientists together to help solve problems and drive innovation – we can do so much more together.”


The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1968, Monell‘s mission is to improve health and well-being by advancing the scientific understanding of taste, smell, and related senses, where our discoveries lead to improving nutritional health, diagnosing and treating disease, addressing smell and taste loss, and digitizing chemosensory data.

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