Ann-Sophie Barwich

Ann-Sophie Barwich

Assistant Professor in Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine


  • Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Exeter, 2013
  • M.A., Philosophy and Literature Theory, Humboldt-University, Berlin, 2009

About Ann-Sophie Barwich

I smell for a living. Specifically, I focus on the sense of smell as a model for mind and brain. In my philosophical investigations, I specialize in olfaction to revisit conceptualizations of perceptual objecthood, causality, and subjectivity. In my laboratory work, I aim to establish a temporal pipeline of sensory and cognitive feature integration in odor responses (ERP/event-related potential). I publish and lecture internationally in scientific and philosophical venues (e.g., CelltopiCSPhilosophy Compass).


I am an Assistant Professor at Indiana University Bloomington (IU) in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine with a joint appointment in the Cognitive Science Program. My research extends across topics in cognitive science, neuroscience, biology, and the general philosophy of science. My multidisciplinarity enables me to blend philosophy with cognitive science to close the theory-experiment loop. My methods are analytic and empirical (EEG/electroencephalography, olfactometry/psychophysics, lab ethnography, interviews).


Until recently, olfaction was regarded as an eccentric research footnote in science as well as philosophy, and as such a high-risk career choice, until COVID-19 when the widespread loss of smell catalyzed public and academic awareness. My work on olfaction predates the pandemic with my Ph.D. thesis supervised by John Dupré (2013; University of Exeter). I furthered my research as a postdoctoral fellow at the KLI Institute, Austria (2013–15, formerly the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research). The Presidential Scholarship in Society and Neuroscience at Columbia University (2015–18) provided me the opportunity to work in the lab of the olfactory neuroscientist Stuart Firestein, a life-changing experience that became the inspiration for my first book, Smellosophy: What the Nose Tells the Mind (Harvard University Press, 2020).