Biology professor John Glendinning has always been interested in animals. As a child in California, he spent time "collecting" local critters--lizards, rodents, and other animals--and observing their behavior. As a high-schooler and undergraduate student, he studied South African guinea pigs, Japanese macaques, and Italian guard dogs, but it was during his graduate studies on a research trip in Central Mexico that he truly found his calling. Glendinning traveled with a team of scientists to Michoacán to study monarch butterflies, which give off a bitter taste that protect them from most predators. "I became interested in taste because taste can have this huge structuring effect on a whole community of animals," said Glendinning.
From that point forward, the science of taste has shaped his research. Glendinning and his research assistants — Barnard students — now focus mainly on understanding sweet taste and what drives people's attraction to sugar. In this video, Glendinning shares the story of how his passion evolved.
Interview Extra: Glendinning shares his current research on taste and alcohol intake.