Dr. Chakra Chennubhotla, along with Dr. Jason Castro, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Bates College, led research on a mathematical approach to standardizing odor descriptions. Arvind Ramanathan, computer scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, also collaborated. The team of researchers have identified 10 basic odor qualities: fragrant, woody/resinous, fruity (non-citrus), sickening (decayed), chemical, minty/peppermint, sweet, popcorn, sickening (pungent) and lemon. [See the press release for more information]
You can find the article published in PLOS ONE.
They have received media coverage from around the globe:
Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130918180425.htm
NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/what-nose-knows-humans-can-sense-10-basic-smells-4B11187604
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/from-fragrant-to-popcorn-us-scientists-identify-10-categories-for-smells-8827888.html
Shannon Quinn, a graduate student in the CPCB Program, also played a role in this effort.
Congratulations, Chakra and Shannon!