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GUELPH, Ontario — Outside of Emma Allen-Vercoe’s office is a bulletin board pinned with her team’s scientific papers since 2013. It’s the academic’s answer to a military uniform grown heavy with medals.

But all of that research has come with a side effect: an impressive intimacy with the smells of human digestion.


“This is what we formally call the poopy lab,” she said one morning at the end of January. “Every donor that we use has a distinct aroma, because they have a different profile of microbes in the gut, so it’s like a fine wine — just not quite so fine. I guess this is Eau de Ulcerative Colitis … which smells different from Eau de Obesity, and Eau de Healthy Person.”

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