Student Trainees

Learn about the QAQCC’s current student trainees:

  • Ximena Florez Buitrago

    Ximena is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Plant Sciences at McGill University, under the supervion of Dr. Suha Jabaji. Her main research interests center on the generation of green solutions for the control of diseases in commercial crops. During her M.Sc., Ximena investigated the beneficial effects of bacterial endophytes isolated from cacao pods of commercial varieties in Panama, with the global objective of developing a microbial biostimulant. This experience expanded her knowledge and she acquired important skills that industry stakeholders value when investing in the growing trend of the organic production. The global objective of Ximena's PhD thesis is to develop a microbial supplement that will boost cannabis yield. Fertilizers and supplements can represent a risk pathway for the introduction of chemical and microbial contamination in the consumable portions of the cannabis plant, and new products that are compliant with the Fertilizers Act and Regulations to reduce potential for contamination are urgently needed.

  • Justin Bohemen

    Justin is a M.Sc. student in the Department of Bioresource Engineering, under the supervision of Dr. Lefsrud at McGill University. He completed his B.Sc. in Agro-Environmental Sciences at McGill University, with specializations in Plant Production and Professional Agrology. He is interested in optimizing the production of biomass and secondary metabolites within the cannabis plant by using more efficient production methods. His research will focus on determining the optimal pruning techniques for industry scale production, combined with an analysis of plant responses to different lighting systems. In the future, Justin sees himself playing an important role in the industry as a professional agrologist.

  • Pabitra Das

    Pabitra is pursuing a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. He obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Food Engineering from Bangladesh Agricultural University. His research areas include dehydration, postharvest preservation and development of food and food products. Pabitra will conduct his doctoral research under the supervision of Dr. Lope Tabil, focusing on postharvest handling and processing of cannabis, closing looking into the different postharvest preservation techniques that can improve quality and shelf life.

  • Emilie Brun

    Emilie is an international student from France, pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Adam Shuhendler and Dr. Cory Harris. Her research project is based on the synthesis of hetero-bimetallic lanthanides complexes and evaluating these as MR fingerprinting tags. In addition, her research involves cannabis plant imaging. Prior to this, Emilie obtained an M.Sc. in Chemistry and Life Sciences at the Université de Lille, carrying out an internship where she studied plants extracts used in French Polynesian traditional medicine. She has keen interest in nature, plants in particular, and natural health products.

  • Tori Scherle

    Tori is pursuing her M.Sc. in Biology at the University of Ottawa, under the direction of Dr. Cory Harris. She recently completed her Hons. B.Sc. in Biology at the University of Ottawa and spent the last year researching Echinacea alkylamide interactions with human cannabinoid receptors as an undergraduate student. She even had the opportunity to present her findings at the Natural Health Product Research Society’s conference. Tori loves plants, organic chemistry, pharmacology, and genetics, and she combines all these aspects into Natural Health Product research. She will continue to expand on some of her previous research to explore cannabis interactions with drugs and other NHPs by utilizing docking software, computer programs and in-lab analysis. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, photography, content creation and adventuring.

  • Michael Benko

    Michael is a M.Sc. student in Plant Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan, under the co-supervision of Dr. Tim Sharbel and Dr. Vladimir Vujanovic. He has been working hands-on with medicinal cannabis for almost a decade and has spent the last four years researching cannabis/cannabinoids from a pharmacological perspective as a member of Dr. Robert Laprairie’s lab. He is very excited to utilize his diverse background in Engineering, Agriculture, and Health Sciences to approach industry issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. His current research will focus on investigating the genetic diversity of Cannabis sativa and identifying/classifying pharmaceutically relevant chemovars for further drug discovery and development. Overall, he hopes to continually improve the industry as a whole in order to protect the health and safety of the public as well as the environment.

  • Philip Wiredo Addo

    I am a Schulich Fellowship award recipient pursuing the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in Bioresource Engineering at McGill University. My research focuses on the optimization of postharvest technologies for medicinal plants; cannabis and hops under the supervision of Prof. Mark Lefsrud. I had the opportunity to work in summer 2018 as a research intern in the Biomass Production Lab using NMR technology to analyse lipids in peas. My interest in food and plant engineering evolved from my desire to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals; zero hunger and good health and well-being. In a few years, I envisage myself being part of the food industry, as a professional engineer. I want to acquire the knowledge to identify, analyse, and find solutions to curb the challenges in the industry and develop new or improved packages and processing systems.

  • Kelly Light

    Kelly is a PhD student with a keen interest in novel encapsulation systems for the delivery of cannabinoid compounds. She received her bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Human nutrition in 2012, and after working in the community and food industry settings for several years, she returned to McGill to focus on her analytical skills and conduct research. Her current project involves the enzymatic modification of cannabinoid compounds to improve their compatibility with food systems and the entrapment of cannabinoids within various encapsulation systems to improve their efficacy and gastrointestinal bioavailability. She has always been passionate about all kinds of food, and she sees the cannabis industry as a unique and exciting new area to combine her expertise in high quality food products, nutraceutical chemistry and human metabolism.

  • Alec Roger Vista

    Alec is a MSc student in Biological Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. He’s also an Engineer-in-Training with The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). While taking up his BSc in Chemical Engineering at the University of the Philippines Visayas, he interned at Dole Philippines Inc. where he trained for Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP), and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), applied in an agri-industrial plant environment. He also has a background in research and development, working on the production of spray-dried food grade Carrageenan.
    His current research will focus on the post-harvest processing, storage and quality of cannabis, closely looking into the existing practices used in the Cannabis industry.

  • Vincent Desaulniers Brousseau

    Vincent is a PhD candidate in the Biomass Production Laboratory at McGill University under the supervision of Dr. Lefsrud. His education includes two BSc, one in Biological Sciences and the other in Agroenvironmental Sciences. he also has an MSc. in Molecular and Cellular Medicine. He is a trained agrologist and has a solid knowledge of biological systems. He hopes that biopharmaceuticals can be produced sustainably.
    Vincent studies nutrient tracking in medicinal cannabis production. Using state-of-the-art specific ion monitoring, he aspires to make the next generation of hydroponic systems more sustainable than ever before. Like in other sectors, sustainable food, fibre, and nutraceutical production lies in reusing what is usually discarded as waste. His research will help make medical cannabis production environmentally-friendly, as well as enabling growers with an nutrition index for optimal cannabinoid fertilization.

  • Sam Burgner

  • Corrine Dobson

    I am pursuing a PhD in Biology at the University of Ottawa under the supervision of Dr. Cory Harris. I completed a BSc in Biomedical Science (Cellular and Molecular Medicine) and a MSc in Interdisciplinary Health Science, both at the University of Ottawa. I have an interest in natural health products, herbal medicines, drug metabolism, and food biochemistry. Currently, I am investigating the metabolism of cannabis. Specifically, I am researching the metabolism of cannabinoids by the CYP450 family of liver enzymes and the digestion and absorption of cannabinoids in edible products. I am looking forward to participating in the QAQCC program to help answer some of the questions about the safety of cannabis and cannabis edible products and better inform the Canadian public, while developing my own professional skills in a growing yet underexplored area of study.

  • Mohannad Mahmoud

    Mohannad Mahmoud a Ph.D. Candidate at McGill University. He holds two MScs in Agricultural Engineering and Molecular Biology. His current research focuses on the identification and development of potential bio-stimulants and bio-controls, with an emphasis on the cannabis fungal pathogens, in addition to investigating in-depth the bacteria-fungi interactions. He is also interested in cannabis quality assurance, mainly controlling biological hazards that may present in cannabis products.

  • Josephine Payment

    Josephine Payment is currently a Biology Masters Student at the University of Ottawa. She recently graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Science Honours Co-Op, with a major in Genetics. Her interests revolve around plant growth under stress conditions. Her research experience includes work on Aphanomyces euteiches with Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, as well as work on plant growth and development using bacterial fertilizers and butterfly phylogeny at the University of Manitoba. Her current project involves working with model plant systems to determine effects of stress conditions on seedlings

  • Cailun Tanney

    I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology at Queen’s University (2015-2020), carrying out an honours thesis with the Jacqueline Monaghan Lab. During my degree, I completed an internship at PnuVax Biopharmaceuticals SL (2018-2019) as a microbiology intern with the QC Microbiology team. I am currently a MSc student in the Department of Plant Science at McGill University, developing a co-supervisory project with Dr. Anja Geitmann and Dr. Donald Smith to investigate the impact of the cannabis phytomicrobiome on trichome development. My goal is to ultimately help shape protocols with Health Canada that are aimed at creating a safe, environmentally friendly cannabis industry in Canada.
    In my spare time I am a reservist with the Canadian Army Reserves as a Human Resources Administrator. I also enjoy sewing, photography, painting, baking, rock climbing, and hiking when possible.