Student Trainees

Learn about the QAQCC’s current student trainees and its graduates:

  • Patrick Kpai

    Patrick is a PhD student in the Department of Bioresource Engineering at McGill University, under the supervision of Dr. Mark Lefsrud. He holds a BSc in Earth Sciences from the University of Ghana, Legon, a BSc (Hons.) and MSc in Environmental Technology from the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He has previously worked as a Geophysicist and as a Marketing and Services Specialist in Ghana and South Africa, respectively. Patrick is currently working on nutrient optimization and assessing the impacts of exogenous RNAs on cannabis plants in a hydroponic system. He hopes to apply his knowledge towards the right supply of mineral nutrients for efficient and sustainable cultivation of cannabis within the ever-evolving cannabis industry.

  • Victor Distefano Wiltenburg

    Victor is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa, under the supervision of Dr. Cory Harris. He holds a B.Sc. in Science and Technology (with a year of academic mobility at the University of Budapest) and a B.Sc. in Neuroscience from the Federal University of ABC, Brazil. For his M.Sc. in Neuroscience and Cognition, he studied the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca in alcohol use disorder. He currently works with medicinal plants, focusing on ayahuasca and cannabis, and is interested in learning and researching cannabis quality control and quality assurance.

  • Patrick Greiss

    Patrick is a PhD student in the Department of Pathology at McGill University. Patrick completed his B.Sc. in Life Sciences at Queen's University, doing an honours project in microbiology, which helped him develop his passion for research. He currently works with Dr. Carolyn Baglole to assess the effects of various chemical compounds in cannabis, notably terpenes, on lung health.

  • Daniel Santander

    Daniel is a MSc student in the Department of Bioresource Engineering at McGill University and a member of Dr. Lefsrud’s Biomass Production Lab. Daniel completed his undergraduate degree in Plant Science, with a concentration in Computational Biology, at Cornell University. He completed his thesis, Computational Modeling and Optimization Applied to Controlled Environment Agriculture Lighting Systems, under the supervision of Dr. Neil Mattson. During his time at Cornell, Daniel interned at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center & Nihon University in Japan to conduct research on controlled environment agriculture & hydroponics. Prior to coming to McGill, Daniel spent 2.5 years working as an R&D Data Specialist at Syngenta, where he traveled to field-sites & developed software for the nearly 150 agronomists conducting large-scale field trials. Daniel’s background in controlled-environment & large-scale agriculture has catalyzed his research objective to develop best management practices for cannabis production and processing.

  • Priscilla Lopes

    Priscilla is pursuing an MSc. in Biology at the University of Ottawa under the supervision of Dr. Cory Harris. She is originally from São Paulo, Brazil, where she obtained a B.Sc. in Biology and a B.Sc. in Pharmacy. After spending seven years working in training and sales within the pharmaceutical Industry, she returns to academia, focusing on cannabis safety, toxicity, and drug interactions. She is eager to learn about the emerging Cannabis Industry and contribute to improving Public Health and Safety.

  • Sarah Seay

    Sarah is an MSc student in the Department of Plant Science at McGill University within the Geitmann Lab. She received her BSc from McGill in Agricultre & Environmental Sciences. Her research interests include cannabis plant imaging and cannabis trichome structure. She utilizes microscopy methods, including Scanning Electron Microscopy, to analyze trichome morphological changes. She enjoys walking her dog and olympic weightlifting.

  • Mohammad Kaddoura

    Mohammad is a PhD student in the department of Plant Science at McGill University, under the supervision of Dr. Suha Jabaji. He holds a BSc in Agriculture, a Diploma d’Ingenieur Agricole, and an MSc in Plant Protection all of which have been completed at the American University of Beirut. He hopes to apply his skills and knowledge in molecular sciences, pathology, and integrated pest management to his new field of research. His goal is to investigate bacterial endophytes for potential bio-stimulant and bio-control properties and to study these selections and their associated pathways during disease development in-depth. The main objective of his thesis is to develop and optimize bacterial based formulations to manage mycotoxigenic fungi and to boost overall plant health and yield of Cannabis and other commercial crops. He is currently interning at Biosun Inc.

  • Roham Gorgani

    Roham is an M.Sc. student in the Department of Pathology at McGill University, under the supervision of Dr. Baglole. He obtained his Hons. B.Sc. in Life Sciences at McMaster University, where he developed his research interests focusing on the relationship between poor lifestyle habits and the onset of disease. This led him to his current thesis project, investigating the pulmonary immune response to cannabis vape products and vaporized concentrates. With the recent legalization of cannabis, the popularity of vape products among the younger demographic, and the lack of scientific research in his specific field, he is extremely grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to such an emerging industry.

  • Haleema Tariq

    Haleema Tariq is a PhD student enrolled in the Department of Plant Science at McGill University, under the co-supervision of Dr. Donald Smith and Dr. Anja Geitmann. She has broad expertise in biochemistry and plant physiology. As part of her MSc thesis in Biosciences, she studied the effects of biofertilizers on soybean and analyzed the phytohormones of plants and bioinoculants at the University of Wah, Pakistan. Research performed during her BSc. (Biochemistry) at the Arid Agriculture University, Pakistan involved herbal treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Haleema also has strong knowledge base of molecular biology and microbiology. She is currently working on interactions between plant beneficial microbes and cannabis nutrient utilization. Her goal is to design a protocol for regulatory agencies that will help to attain sustained yield and quality with reduced nutrient input, using microbial cells and signals that are cost-effective and eco-friendly.

  • Sai Uday Kumar Reddy Sagili

    Uday obtained his QAQCC certificate in 2023. He earned his MSc in the Department of Bioresource Engineering at McGill University, under the supervision of Dr. Valérie Orsat and Dr. Mark Lefsrud. Originally from Andhra Pradesh, India, he obtained his B.Sc. in Agriculture from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru College of Agriculture and Research Institute. While completing his undergraduate degree, Uday carried out two projects via the Rural Agriculture Work Experience and Experiential Learning Programs. He was awarded with Pratibha Award and Gold Medal for his academic excellence during his 12th standard from the Government of Andhra Pradesh, India, in 2016. Uday is an enthusiastic member of the QAQCC, in which his research area focuses on optimization and improvement of post-harvest technologies for the cannabis industry. Uday was recently hired for his post-harvest processing and extraction skillset by a globally recognized entity, based in Ontario.

  • Ankita Srivastava

    Ankita is an MSc student in the Food and Bioproduct Sciences - Applied Microbiology Program at the University of Saskatchewan, under the supervision of Dr. Vladimir Vujanovic and Dr. Tim Sharbel. Prior to this, she obtained a BSc in Biotechnology in India. Ankita's graduate research is focused on elucidating the uncharted science of the cannabis plant by understanding host-microbiome partnerships and the interactome for product safety and sustainability, by investigating the functional role of endophytic microbial communities associated with this plant. Ankita would like to probe deeper into the importance of plant’s genome-microbiome interactions under biotic and abiotic stresses through Omics-driven approaches (i.e., genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, or metabolomics) as well elucidating these symbiotic associations and finding pathways/enzymes that enhance their metabolism. She aims to better understand the genetic diversity of cannabis through this work for the improvement of the quality and shelf life of plant products like secondary metabolites, cannabinoids, etc. for the betterment of the public as well the environment.

  • Jérôme Trudel-Brais

    Jérôme is an MSc student and new member of the Biomass Production Lab in the Department of Bioresource Engineering at McGill University, under the supervision of Professor Lefsrud. He obtained his BSc in Engineering Physics Polytechnique Montréal. His training in fundamental physics and mathematics gave him the opportunity to acquire the necessary tools and competencies to understand and analyze complex problems. Jérôme’s goal is to apply this knowledge to the broader field of controlled environment agriculture (CEA) and more precisely, to the optimization of cannabis production. He will design, build, and test an innovative automated system for growing cannabis. Jérôme believes in the importance of hard work, having fun and an active, healthy lifestyle.

  • Zohreh Poudineh

    Zohreh was born and raised in Iran, where she obtained a BSc in Agriculture. Her MSc research involved medicinal plants and her thesis was entitled, "Morphological, genetic and secondary metabolites diversity of fennel". Zohreh is a new and enthusiastic member of the Biomass Production Lab at McGill University, in the Department of Bioresource Engineering and under the supervision of Dr. Mark Lefsrud. As part of her graduate studies, she aims to apply her knowledge of medicinal plants to the investigation of light wavelengths effects on cannabis growth and major secondary metabolites, including cannabinoids and terpenes.

  • Ambreen Khizarhayat

    Ambreen is a PhD student enrolled in the Department of Plant Science at McGill University, under the supervision of Dr. Donald Smith. She has broad expertise in the Biotechnology field. As part of her MSc thesis in Biotechnology, she worked on transgenic wheat to evaluate its improvement in phosphorus uptake from soil (Plant biotechnology) at the Forman Christian College in Pakistan. Research performed during her BSc. (Biotechnology) at the Kinnaird College for Women involved molecular genetics, attempting to identify the three most prevalent genes involved in causing microcephaly in the Pakistani population (Health biotechnology). She has a deep understanding of molecular techniques, microbiology, and field studies. She is currently working on cannabis and microbial biostimulant interactions to determine their effect on cannabis growth and its chemovar, in collaboration with an industrial partner. She is eager to learn more about modern technology and techniques that can be applied to valued crops.

  • Mohammad Reza Khan Bolouki

    Mohammad was the first QAQCC graduate! He obtained his M.Sc. from the Department of Bioresource Engineering, under the supervision of Dr. Mark Lefsrud at McGill University. He is originally from Tehran, Iran, where he obtained his B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the Science and Research University in 2019. While pursuing his M.Sc., Mohammad interned at Agilent Technologies Inc., where he was trained in advancing and developing chromatography methods for cannabis and pesticides analyses, applied to the cannabis production industry. His areas of academic interest and research are focused on cannabis production and analysis, specifically ESI ionization behaviour of cannabinoids in multiple matrices. With his newly acquired analytical skills, Mohammad was quickly hired by a licensed analytical lab in the greater Montreal area.

  • 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 PhD in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa, under the supervison 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 PhD 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

    Dr. Philip Addo is a Schulich Fellowship recipient and he received his PhD in Bioresource Engineering at McGill University in 2023. His research focused on the optimization of post-harvest technologies for medicinal plants, cannabis and hops, under the supervision of Prof. Mark Lefsrud. His interest in research spearked when he had the opportunity to work as a research intern in the Biomass Production Lab using NMR technology, analyzing lipids in peas. Philip's interest in food and plant engineering evolved from his desire to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals; zero hunger and good health and well-being. In a few years, he envisages himself as being part of the food industry, as a professional engineer. Philip has acquired a wide-ranging skillset that will help curb current challenges faced by the agri-food and cannabis industries, particularly in post-harvest processing. He is currently pursuing a postdoctoral fellowship at McGill University and is also a QA consultant.

  • 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.

  • Mohannad Mahmoud

    Mohannad is a PhD 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 completed her QAQCC training in 2022. She earned her MSc from the University of Ottawa in the Department of Biology, under Dr. Marina Cvetkovska's supervision. Josephine's research involved working with model plant systems to determine effects of stress conditions on seedlings. Prior to this, she 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 other 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. Josephine is currently working as a Research Technician at the Vineland Research & Innovation Centre.

  • Cailun Tanney

    Cailun Tanney completed her QAQCC training in 2023. She earned her M.Sc. in the Department of Plant Science at McGill University, under the co-supervision of Dr. Anja Geitmann and Dr. Donald Smith, where she investigated the impact of the cannabis phytomicrobiome on trichome development. Her publications can be found in Frontiers in Plant Science and Microorganisms. Prior to this, Cailun completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at Queen’s University (2015-2020) and carried out an Honours thesis in Dr. Jacqueline Monaghan's laboratory. During her degree, she completed an internship at PnuVax Biopharmaceuticals SL (2018-2019) as a microbiology intern with the QC Microbiology team. In her spare time, she is a reservist with the Canadian Army Reserves as a Human Resources Administrator. She also enjoys sewing, photography, painting, baking, rock climbing, and hiking when possible. Cailun is currently a Quality Control and R & D Specialist with a licensed producer in the greater Montreal region.