Guest Post by Jordan River
Tonight The Scented Salon is in Sydney. With us we have Matt Lukjanenko, an Australian student writing a thesis on Olfaction and Personality. Olfaction is the science of smell.
Sydney. Photo: Matt Lukjanenko
You can assist his research, if it suits you, by filling out the survey on the link below:
Personality and Expertise
The study will provide useful information regarding the differences in how thoughts and emotions are processed and expressed between those with a keen interest in fragrances and those without.
The study takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Further details about the survey are after the interview with Matt.
Now let’s find out more about Matt.
G’Day Matt, welcome to The Scented Salon. Thank you for joining us. I know some people may like to know more about you before they fill in your research survey.
Thank you for your kind welcome.
A little bit about me – I was born in Sydney as were both my parents but both families are from Ukraine and Belarus. My parent’s first languages were Ukrainian and Russian and there was definitely an eastern European influence on my life growing up.
What was your first fragrance?
The first fragrance I bought for myself was Acqua di Gio by Armani. I liked the citrus and saltwater scents and its softness.
What did you waft in the 80′s and 90′s?
I am the youngest of 3 boys so whatever I wore was usually passed down from my brothers.
Do you buy for yourself?
I do buy for myself but I remember a while ago my partner at the time left for the UK. He gave me a bottle of what he used to wear as a parting gift which was Calvin Klein Crave. Whenever I wore it it would remind me of him. I thought that was a very smart and sweet gesture.
Or possibly completely debilitating. What are your perfume preferences or notes that you like?
Frangipani, Sandalwood and Lavender. I also love anything citrus or marine and natural.
My favourite at the moment is the Bulvgari Aqva – anything to remind me of the ocean when I’m not near it.
Perfume Collection – there is some Bulgari, Paul Smith, Boss, Burberry and Natio which is a natural Australian brand.
What are you studying?
I am currently in my honours year of a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Macquarie University.
Which career will this lead to?
Following this year, I hope to get into a Masters program in Clinical Forensic Psychology either in Canada or here in Australia. I went on an exchange semester to Canada as part of my undergraduate degree and would love to spend some more time there. After Masters I hope to work for a government agency in correctional services or some other forensic setting.
What is your current research about?
The current study is about olfaction and personality. It builds on previous research looking into the effect that expertise in a particular field has on the brain. Expert musicians, athletes and even taxi drivers have shown functional and structural changes in the way their brains are organised when compared with novices and we are interested in how expertise in olfaction elicits similar changes in the brain and how this then relates to certain personality characteristics.
What about a fragrant experience?
Travelling is my absolute passion. I’ve been fortunate to rake up a number of stamps in my passport and the scents from each of the countries I have visited have always stayed with me long after I’ve left.
One of the most memorable pieces of information I learnt during my degree was that the pathway for the olfactory system has quicker connections with our memory when compared to any of the other senses. I experience that when I pass a person walking in the street who smells like someone else I know or somewhere I’ve been and all those memories come flooding back.
Just two of the highlights for me on my travels have been the smell of burning cigars in a Havana street in Cuba – it was exactly as how I had imagined it and it is one of my favourite cities. The decaying grand buildings, old cars and joyous people. We were fortunate to stay in a homestay with a great host and the lady upstairs would cook our meals and bring down roasted meats, rice and beans, cakes and fresh fruit. You would be intoxicated by the smells alone. But I remember the cigars most vividly.
Cuban flag draped from a building in Havana. Photo: Matt Lukjanenko
Also the smell of freshly baked bread from a Parisian boulangerie as you walk home from a club in the early hours of the morning and knock on the back door to buy a baguette fresh out of the oven and eat it on the way home. Simple things like that bring me a lot of joy.
Machu Picchu – I had always dreamt of visiting Peru and in particular Machu Picchu. We also climbed Huayna Picchu which is a bigger mountain next to Machu Picchu and it was probably the most physically challenging thing I had done. A steep vertical climb for almost an hour hugging onto the side of the mountain with a sheer drop if you put a foot wrong.
What suits you for work?
I work alone most of the time so I could come in smelling like anything really and no one would notice but for everyday wear I prefer natural fragrant oils. Just taking a twig of lavender from a neighbour’s garden and rolling it between my fingers and dabbing it on my neck and wrists.
What do men smell like in Sydney?
Sydney is a summer city, it comes alive during summer and people, men and women in my area usually smell of the beach: saltwater, sunscreen and coconut oil. Having said that it does changes from season to season; in spring it’s more floral and in winter more cedar and spices.
Besides study and travel what occupies your time?
Surfing – at Bondi Beach near my home in Sydney. This photo was taken by the instructor on my first lesson. I’ve since had a few more and am keeping it up.
Aside from travelling, I love swimming, in the ocean or pool and going to the cinema. I go a few times a week and will watch pretty much anything; particularly films from Almodovar or Francois Ozon.
Here I am snorkeling in Cartagena. I met many great people in Colombia and one who is very special. I have Colombian friends all over the world. They seem to travel as much as Australians.
The Gaining of Knowledge
My brother and I went to hear the Dalai Lama talk recently in Sydney and I liked reading about his history and that of Tibetans and Buddhists. There’s also a lot of travel guides and a few adult comics.
Where and how did you gain perfume knowledge?
Online mostly, from blogs like this one and yours, Jordan, as well as from meeting people who then pass their knowledge onto me. I’m still very much a novice but I am enjoying the learning experience.
Do you think perfumery is art, artisanal, design and manufacturing, molecular architecture or something else?
All of the above, as someone you interviewed earlier noted it is both a science and an art but has different interpretations for different people.
What is the purpose of perfume?
Simply, to elicit an emotion in a person, whether it is arousal, calm, joy or sometimes disgust, haha.
Vivid – Sydney has a lot of great festivals one being Vivid which is a light festival in May/June. There are installations and projections onto iconic sites like the Opera House (see top photo) and Harbour Bridge in this photo. Photo: Matt Lukjanenko
Thank you Matt. All the very best with your research and studies.
The study takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. It can be accessed from any computer using any browser, doesn’t require a download and can be accessed through some smartphones and tablets (it’s trial and error – the website says yes to iPhones, iPads etc., but maybe not to some Android phones).
The study is conducted by Matthew Lukjanenko, a Psychology Honours student under the supervision of Dr Mem Mahmut at Macquarie University in Sydney (firstname.lastname@example.org) completing his thesis on Olfaction and Personality.
He is interested in whether people who have a keen sense of smell, by profession or through interest, have differing scores of certain personality traits when compared with the general public. This is an online study and can be completed anonymously. The study should take no longer than 10-15 minutes and will involve completing online questionnaires. If you complete the study you can elect to enter into a draw to win one of three $20 iTunes cards which will be drawn in late October 2013.
Below is the link to the study again
Personality And Expertise
Please feel free to share the link with anyone you might think suitable to participate.
The study will provide useful information regarding the differences in how thoughts and emotions are processed and expressed between those with an interest in fragrances and those without.
If you choose to participate, please do so by Monday 22 July 2013.
Any questions please email: matthew dot lukjanenko at students dot mq dot edu dot au