Seeing Double: Monell is Heading to Twinsburg

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Feel like you’re seeing double?

Twins Days Festival

Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with your eyes! You’re looking at a photo from the Twins Days Festival, the largest annual gathering of twins in the world. The Festival is hosted every summer in, of course, Twinsburg, Ohio.

This weekend, fifteen Monell researchers will be in Twinsburg to study hundreds of pairs of identical twins, fraternal twins, and their family members. In fact, a research team from Monell has made the 8+ hour road trip to Twinsburg off and on for the past fifteen years.

Why make the trek? Sometimes scientists simply have to go outside the lab, something we recently wrote about in Neighborhood Science. In this case, since twins are excellent subjects for genetic research (we’ll explain why later), the enterprising Monellians couldn’t pass up the chance to find research participants among the thousands of enthusiastic twin pairs who attend the Festival.The goal is to better understand individual differences in how we sense tastes and smells.

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The sheer numbers are impressive, reflecting months of preparation and effort. After extensive pilot testing, the research team assembled 800 testing kits, each with 9 taste solutions and 1 smell sample, to collect data on individual differences in taste and smell sensitivity. That’s 400 people x 10 samples, or 4000 sensory evaluations each day, for two days. They also will ask each participant for a cheek swab to bring back to the lab for genetic analysis.


It’s a daunting task, but the team is ready.

To give you a sense of what’s involved in the sensory testing of hundreds of human subjects in the field, we will be documenting the Monell research experience in real time. So look for our posts over the weekend here on the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook. To find us, just keep an eye out for the hashtag #MonellFieldwork!