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What the Nose Knows: Using Dogs for Odor Detection Research

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Wagner Free Institute of Science

1700 West Montgomery Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19121

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Join us for a Weeknights at the Wagner lecture by:

Dr. Jennifer Essler from the Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Dogs are not necessarily the best noses around, but they possess one rare and important quality – the ability to communicate with humans. Because of this, dogs are used for scent detection in many domains, such as drug searches and explosives detection. Less well known, however, is dogs’ use in medical detection, being trained to sniff out cancers, and their potential use in searching for stolen antiquities. Jennifer Essler will talk about her research with odor detection dogs at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, where she investigates all these things and more with the center’s working dog group.

Image: Osa the German Shepherd Dog, one of the dogs in the PVWDC's ovarian cancer research project.

Museum open until the talk begins at 6 p.m. Registration is free, but donations ($5 suggested) are welcomed at the door!




About the Penn Vet Working Dog Center

The Penn Vet Working Dog Center serves as a national research and development center for detection dogs. With the United States national security under constant threat from attacks, detection dogs are still the best tool that we have to detect and mitigate potential threats. Search dogs are also critical for locating victims of natural and man-made disasters. The special scenting ability of dogs also allows them to serve in important ways such as medical or conservation detection. As pioneers in the working dog field, the PVWDC's goal is to increase collaborative research and the application of the newest scientific findings and veterinary expertise to optimize the performance of lifesaving detection dogs.

Jennifer Essler

Dr. Jennifer Essler is a postdoctoral fellow at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where she investigates working dogs in multiple facets, including odor detection and behavioral studies. Her interests center around how we can quantify the training of working dogs, and how we can use this to improve the training process, resulting in better working dogs. At the Working Dog Center, she runs the research side of the center, including work on scent detection and development. Before coming to the University of Pennsylvania, Jennifer received her B.A from Georgia State University, her M.Sc. from Bucknell University, and her PhD at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria. Her most recent work can be found in the journals Current Biology and Animal Behaviour.

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Wagner Free Institute of Science

1700 West Montgomery Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19121

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