John Carlson is Higgins Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale. He has worked on the molecular and cellular basis of olfaction and taste in the genetic model organism Drosophila and in insect vectors of human disease. He is known for the discovery of the first insect odor receptors, the discovery of the first insect taste receptors, and the elucidation of basic principles of the logic of odor and taste coding. He graduated from Harvard with an A.B. in Biochemical Sciences and from Stanford with a PhD in Biochemistry. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford before joining the Yale faculty in 1986. He received the Genetics Society of America Medal and the Yale College Dylan Hixon Prize for Teaching Excellence. Thirteen of his PhD students have won awards for their dissertations.

Research Interests

My laboratory studies the receptors, neurons, and circuits that underlie olfaction, taste, and pheromone recognition. We study the genetic model organism Drosophila, which allows convenient molecular, electrophysiological, and behavioral analysis. We apply what we learn from Drosophila to insects such as mosquitoes and tsetse flies, which collectively spread disease to hundreds of millions of people each year, and to agricultural pests that damage the world's food supply. Currently we are examining the mechanisms by which an individual recognizes a suitable mating partner of the same species, how mosquitoes recognize the humans they bite, and how olfactory and taste systems adapt over short and long time scales to different conditions or new niches.

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Primary Section

Section 26: Genetics