Steven D. Munger has been appointed director of the University of Florida Center for Smell and Taste, succeeding founding director Barry Ache, who stepped down from the position at the end of last year.
Munger, professor and vice chair of the UF department of pharmacology and therapeutics, earned his doctorate at the University of Florida under Ache, and has established himself as a leader in chemosensory research. He was recruited to UF in 2014 as part of the UF Preeminence initiative from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where he was a faculty member for 14 years.
"Dr. Ache's leadership has brought together diverse talents from across the UF that might not have collaborated before,” he said. ”I am looking forward to working with this remarkable group of scientists and educators as UF leads the way in the study of taste and smell."
Ache, a distinguished professor of biology and neuroscience at the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, and a national leader in the science of smell and taste, has served as the center’s director since its founding in 1998. He has been a UF faculty member since 1978. He will continue to be involved with the center in his new role as chair of its Scientific Advisory Board, and said the transition to Munger should prove natural.
“Under the leadership of Dr. Steven Munger, the center can be expected to continue to move to prominence in chemical senses research with concomitant gain in competitiveness for grants, collaborations with industry, ability to contribute to the health and wellness of Florida citizens, and public visibility,” he said.
Munger is the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the Ajinomoto Award for Young Investigators in Gustation. He is also the president-elect of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, the leading scientific society for the study of smell and taste. His research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms responsible for the detection of odors and tastes.
"Chemical senses researchers at UF are poised to make major advances in treating smell loss, improving the taste of food, controlling agricultural and disease-carrying pests, and designing better sensors," Munger said.
The UF Center for Smell and Taste is one of only three recognized centers of chemical senses research in the U.S., and the only one associated with exceptionally strong medical and agricultural enterprises. It includes more than 50 faculty members across 20 departments at UF.