Sissel Tolaas have a background in mathematics, chemical science, languages, and visual art. Tolaas is working actively and concentrated on the topic of SMELL / SMELL & LANGUAGE - COMMUNICATION since 1990, within different sciences, fields of art /design and other disciplines. Tolaas established the SMELL RE_searchLab Berlin in January 2004, supported by IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.). Her research has won recognition through numerous national and international scholarships, honours, and prizes including the 2014 CEW, New York award for chemistry & innovation; the 2009 Rouse Foundation Award from Harvard University GSD and the 2010 ArsElectronica Award in Linz, Austria and the 2010-2014 Synthetic Biology / Synthetic Aesthetics Award from Stanford and Edinburgh Universities include a residency at Harvard Medical School. Tolaas is recently a founding member of the International Sleep Science and Technology Association, China/US/Africa/Europe and the Institute of Functional Smells in 2016 for i.e. health, communication and education.
Tolaas build up several smell archives among others an archive of up to 7000 real smells from all over the world. Tolaas have done 52 City SmellScapes research projects since 1998, of, for and with major cities, all over the world such as Paris; Stockholm; Detroit, Kansas City Kansas & Kansas City Missouri, Berlin, Oslo, London, Cape Town, Kochi, Istanbul, Shanghai, Singapore and is currently working on Auckland, Nuuk, Calcutta, Seoul and Tel Aviv. Tolaas was recently commissioned to build off and smell research the world's Oceans for TBA21(Vienna). Since 2014 Tolaas is part of several startups in the field of the senses. Tolaas just launched the world's first Smell Memory Kit. She has worked and is working with numerous i.e. companies, institutions and museum, and is actively participating in international colloquiums, conferences and networks.