Department: Department of Psychology, Department of Surgery’s Section of Otolaryngology
Years active at Yale: 1970-2005
Dr. Bartoshuk is being recognized for her research in the studies of genetic variations in taste perception and how taste perception affects overall health. She is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the sense of taste. Now at the University of Florida, Dr. Bartoshuk is best known for her discovery, in the early 1990s, that one in four people is a “supertaster” for whom sweet is more cloying and bitter, more astringent. She was the first to discover that burning mouth syndrome, mostly experienced by postmenopausal women, is not a psychosomatic condition, but caused by damage to the taste buds at the front of the tongue. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995, and in 2003 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Bartoshuk began her career in astronomy as an undergraduate at Carleton College in Minnesota, but left that field when her professors told her it was not friendly to women and that landing a position at an observatory would be nearly impossible for her. She changed majors when she learned that the psychology department would accept her math and science credits.