The Expert: What I Know About … Body Odour
Who: Rachel McQueen
Job: Assistant Professor of Textiles Science at the University of Alberta
Experience: Rachel McQueen grew up on the South Island in New Zealand, where her father ranched about 1,500 Perendale sheep on 300 acres of land, which may explain her love of wool. As an undergrad at the University of Otago, she got turned on to textiles science. “What I liked about clothing was the science, but also the social aspects as well.”
In 2007, she moved to Edmonton to take up her current position as a professor in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta, one of the only university in Canada with such a program. In addition to teaching, she studies the retention of odor in textiles—“Why does this T-shirt stink and the other not?” is a question she often finds herself asking—and works with several manufacturers of sports apparel.
Her research involves a lot of “wear trials,” where volunteers sniff the sweaty underarms of other people’s clothing, and her findings on stinky garments have generated interest, from Scientific American to Cosmopolitan.