Course Analyzes Chemistry of Fragrances and Flavors
Jeff Turk is using his background as an industrial chemist to show students a different application of chemistry — creating fragrances and flavors.
“When students think of chemistry, they often think of fields like medicine,” he says. “One way to attract students to science is to show them how it is applicable to their everyday lives. I hope to do that with this course.”
Turk, assistant professor of chemistry, will teach the preterm course "Fragrances: From Perfumer to Consumer" for the second time this fall. The course, designed for students with no chemistry background, will give students a broad overview of fragrance chemistry, including fragrance history, studying patents, chemistry terms and how the body identifies smells.
Jeff Turk with students in the chemistry lab.
“Actually, every person’s olfactory system is just a little different,” he says. “No two people smell one thing the same. I might smell vanilla one way, and when you smell vanilla, it’s a completely different scent.”
In addition, he will discuss the business model and marketing for the industry. In the lab, students will have a chance to create their own fragrance and use that fragrance in a scented laundry detergent.
“When many people think of fragrances, they think of natural fragrances such as rose or vanilla,” he says. “In reality, those natural essential oils are very expensive to purchase, so the industries use those oils to help create synthetic alternatives.”
Turk has a large variety if synthetic fragrances. Students will smell them all, making notes as they go. Using their notes, students then will mix the fragrances to make their own scents.
“For some students who have never been in a lab, this is really exciting,” he says.
Turk worked for more than a year at International Flavors and Fragrances in New Jersey, which creates flavors for food, beverages and sweets and fragrances for items such as toiletries and perfume. He realized during this time that teaching was his true calling, and he came to Alma in 2006.
Posted: Sat, May 16th, 2009 at 11:38AM