Guest Speakers Background


Dr. Heather Grab delivers best practices for the cultivation and processing of hemp to professionals in Cornell’s Hemp Science program. Her research uses remote-sensing, large-scale community datasets, and advanced analytical methods to create data-driven solutions for challenges at the interface of natural resource conservation and agriculture. Heather teaches two courses in the Hemp Science curriculum. The first focused on production introduces students to evidence-based practices for hemp cultivation across a range of production systems from broad acre fiber to indoor high cannabinoid. Her second course gives students hands-on experience with processing raw hemp products into a diverse array of high-value products. She also mentors master’s students in the Hemp Science Program on their independent projects ranging from fiber industry market analyses to new analytical methods.


Dr. Daniela Vergara is an evolutionary biologist, data analyst, educator, scientific writer, and public speaker. In addition to her multiple publications, she founded and directs a non-profit organization, the Agricultural Genomics Foundation (AGF; AGF aims to make hemp and cannabinoid science available to a broad public. Vergara has been part of e scientific teams at private companies including Steep Hill, Inc. who are a global leader in agricultural testing, and the biotech company Front Range Biosciences. Dr. Vergara recently joined the Harvest New York Extension Team from Cornell University as an ‘Emerging Crop Specialist’ to help hemp farmers with their crops. Dr. Vergara’s scientific publications include the comparison of the cannabinoids by the federally produced Cannabis to that produced by the private market. These results were featured in news platforms such as The Atlantic, Science, and FiveThirtyEight. Recently, she published a comparison between the genome of these federally produced varieties to the genome of the varieties found in the private markets.


Dr. Daniela Vergara introduced herself and said. She’s a scientist and recently moved to New York state from Colorado. She’s been working in cannabis since 2013 mostly on genomic research in Colorado and at CU Boulder then she moved to work at Cornell with the extension on one of the groups in extensions which is called Harvest New York where they have a bunch of people working on many different things. She’s a hemp and hops specialist. She moved because she wanted to help the industry and help farmers with their crops and that is her job. She’s been doing a bunch of stuff that she wanted to discuss.



Dr. Heather Grab introduced herself and said she’s also from Cornell University in New York. She’s been working with hemp in many capacities. Her formal training is in entomology and crop protection. So more on the ergonomic side but a lot of her work recently has been with analytical techniques and establishing partnerships with their education program with folks who are on the processing side of the industry focused on industrial hemp mostly on the fiber side.


Mandi Lynn Kerr asked them a question. Can you tell me a little bit more about what that program looks like about your partnerships, especially on industrial hemp processing?


Dr. Heather Grab replied and said. So a lot of our partnerships are trying to establish these collaborations between the research capacity expertise that we bring. So Jeremy was sharing earlier about this real need for research in so many areas, whether it’s carbon sequestration or best practices for cultivation. So leveraging those great resources, including all the expertise that we have here, folks, like Dr. Vergara, who is definitely an expert in cannabis, bring her expertise to the team. And then we work together with industry partners that host students that may work with companies to answer questions that they have that are important to the broader industry. So I saw some familiar faces, who joined us already, who we are already working with these kinds of student internship partnerships. So that’s definitely something I can say about that. 


Mandi Lynn Kerr asked Dr. Daniela Vergara and said. Would you mind giving a little bit of background on what are some of the projects specifically you’re working on or your role now and some of your background? That may not be necessarily attached with Cornell, but some of the things that you’ve been working on?


Dr. Daniela Vergara said. I do have a little bit of an agenda that I wanted to touch base on.I’m going to show the work that I did at CU Boulder, and I run a nonprofit organization, the Agricultural Genomics Foundation, and this the kind of his genomic research initiative was is the group that we have at CU Boulder, where I’m a co-founder, and now I’m part of the Cornell Cooperative Extension. I wanted to tell you guys that in New York State, we have an agricultural Expo, which is going to happen online. It was going to be in person and I was super excited. But now because of COVID, it’s going to be online. It’s gonna be on February 28. And March 1, So Heather Grab just said that people from there are going to be hemp, it’s gonna be two days, February 28 and March 1. And it’s mainly geared towards New York State. But this information is relevant to everyone, we’re going to be talking about diseases and production. 


(Showing Powerpoint Slides)

We also partner with the USDA, and we are giving talks with the USDA. Interesting talks about many different subjects related to hemp. And to clarify that hemp is anything that is below 0.3% THC. So Dr. Heather Grab is talking on February 23. And there’s a bunch of really good speakers, including Ethan Russo, and I am talking April 20I am going to be talking about this paper, and this particular paper, and there’s a reason why I chose that paper, but I’m not gonna disclose it until that day., I wanted to tell you guys about this talk. I wanted to talk about the 0.3% THC. 


The genome of Different Varieties of Cannabis


Dr. Daniela Vergara said. This is work that I did at CU Boulder. We have done many different versions of this particular figure. In this figure, we have the genome of many different varieties of cannabis. So cannabis is the genus. And we have in cannabis, many different strains varieties, You can call them many different words. That variety of cultivars is still not correct. Even though there’s a lot of debate, I like the word strain. Because these are all hybrids. And we do not have breeding available for many of these in hemp, we see it a little bit more. And what we see here is, that all of these little lines are a string. Many of you can find something that you recognize, for example, I’ve done KUSH may be something that you recognize or USO, 31 may be a hemp variety that you recognize. And what we see here in this, this thread-like structure in the middle is the part of the genome that everyone shares. So it’s like the ancestral part of the genome, the more relaxed you are, the closer you are in this breath, the more of the genome you share. So if I had, for example, me and my son, we would be in lines that are very close together to each other because we share a lot of our genome. So this thread-like structure is the part of the genome that is shared among everyone. So what we see here in this blue cloud is one marijuana type. And these purple clouds are another marijuana type. So we call them and this is, again, open for debate. We call them the purple ones, we call them the brown leaves, and the blue ones, we call them the narrow leaves. And those are usually used in medical or recreational settings. Now, the ones that we see here in orange are the ones that are used in hemp. These are hemp fiber or oil. So what we can see here is that the fiber and the oil, share more of the genome, they’re more related to each other. They’re closer to each other. That doesn’t mean that the ones that have low THC are part of this group. As a matter of fact, many varieties that have low THC are actually low THC marijuana. So with all of that, what I want to say is that hemp according to the government, to the legal regulations, that is low THC that is not a biological grouping, it is really not that these individuals cluster together so that an arbitrary grouping is something that was decided legally by someone that opens room for us, for example, to study plants that are on these medical recreational groupings. So it’s actually beneficial to us because it not only allows us to study the hemp that is traditional hemp, the ones that are in the fiber and green category, but it opens a little bit more room to study other varieties. So that definition is actually beneficial. Now, I do think that education is crucial because you need to understand these differences, you need to understand how the plant is grown for the purpose, and I think that Dr. Heather Grab really knows that, well  like how, for the purpose and the phenotypes of the plants, they are very different, like the phenotype, the physical characteristics of the plants are very different, depending on the use. I wanted to make this a preamble and why I think that this is really important. 


Introduction to Hemp Cultivation


Dr. Daniela Vergara said I am working on a hemp production manual and an introduction of hemp cultivation. I’m manual, and I’m where we’re putting a bunch of information that I found on websites, and I can show you the websites. I found a bunch of information here and there, we’re compiling that and we’re putting information that is made by students as well. So all of that we’re putting together a manual that we hope to have the first draft by the end of the summer.


Nicole Ndiaye commented and said I’m in the 10 farms in upstate New York. I really appreciate your illustration of what’s going on in this industry. And it’s important that we have these kinds of meetings because I feel like it’s a new thing in New York and other places have a lot more experience in growing it. Even though the climate in New York is a little different. I was interested in pollen drift because I have multiple farms. So my objective, in this industry, not knowing when recreational would become legal was to be in a position to be able to grow grain fiber CBD and also adult-use marijuana. But I’m concerned about pollen drift. That is a big concern of mine right now.


Daniela Vergara replied and said I would also be concerned. The only thing that I can tell you is if you’re growing a flower for either CBD or any other cannabinoids, just grow it far away from grain or fiber and grow it far away from males. I think that that is going to be a big concern, especially in New York State. Maybe we’re going to be able to grow flowers and maybe even high THC outdoors. And I don’t know how that’s going to happen because it’s wind-pollinated, so if it’s a wind-pollinated plant, it can travel anywhere.


Nicole Ndiaye said I have grown my fiber miles away. But I’m concerned about other farmers that are legal. Everyone’s going to be planting. I know a lot about New York and the history of New Yorkers, but everyone and their mother is gonna have it if it’s not, even if it’s just the minimum 12 plants that they have, which means everyone’s going to be painting. So it’s not me because I noticed separating my fiber from my seed growing  and that but I’m really concerned about other growth.


Mandi Lynn Kerr mentioned Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi  and she said. What we see and hear a lot is that it’s indoor. A lot of it is indoor cultivation compared to outdoor cultivation, or at least are the ways away? Because that is obvious, how far does it drift? A commodity you have any comments on?


Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi asked a question and said. I was reading your paper, which is a really excellent paper that you published a few years ago. And you could educate me, I’m not a plant geneticist. It’s about the connection between the phenotype, or the physical characteristic of the plant and the chemical, special THC concentration because a lot of people they couldn’t use these characteristics to identify the chemical compounds are the concentration of THC? Certainly. Could you elaborate on that?


Dr. Daniela Grab replied and said, Yes, I know which paper that’s the paper that I’m going to be talking about on 4-20. I think it’s the other way around. What we found is especially important for the marijuana industry, where you can see people suggesting people connecting traits that do not have any relationship so they can tell you, Okay, this plant has high THC, because it has broad leaves, or this plant has high CBD because it’s tall. And what we found is that all of these traits are independent of each other. And my example, the example that I gave is, for example, you cannot tell whether someone is blonde by the color of their eyes So you cannot say, You have blue eyes, therefore, you are blonde. There are people that have blue eyes, that have brunettes. So those two traits are completely independent of each other. But for those biologists in the room, recombination is this thing that happens during sexual reproduction, where all of these traits are kind of shuffled you’re shuffling these traits together, and you then have all of these traits that are different. And that’s why my brother and I are different from each other and then you’re not exactly the same as your sibling, and so and I think that that’s important, because that means that all of these traits can be first independently inherited. And second, you can make varieties that are completely different from each other. And you can and you cannot. So first, you cannot make you cannot draw conclusions from one trait, the fact that the plant is tall doesn’t mean that it has brought leaves or the plant or the plant at the plant is short doesn’t mean that it has high THC. And seconds, you can make new varieties that are not yet there. And you can put traits together that have never maybe been together before. I’m particular and that is not in that paper. But that is in another paper, which was published last year, which is actually talking about governmental cannabis, which is very bad. And it has poor variety. And it has very limited genomic diversity, which is something that we knew, but now we know it with error bars and with graphs. So in that paper, we actually talk about the genetic diversity that we find in cannabis and the amount of genetic diversity, that is the amount of genomic diversity which is about twice or three times as much as the diversity that we find in humans. So if you picture three times as much the genetic diversity that we find in humans, there are going to be a bunch of different combinations that we’re going to be able to make with all of these plants if we have good breeding, If we’re going to be able to make a bunch of different things that have not yet maybe been done before. And I think that that is the importance of that paper.


Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi  asked a question and said.  I work in extension two, and you’re working extension as well, as far as your job, if you put your extension hat, and if you want to advise a farmer, how to select or how to use certain varieties, and to be a predictor for achieving certain THC, what’s your approach to that? How do you put it into the application or practical advice to producers?


Dr. Daniela Grab answered and said what I’m gonna answer, maybe a little dynamite. But, I think that those THC numbers are arbitrary and unfair. I don’t know if we’re right now, at a time where we can still fight for that. Because when you are growing hemp for fiber, or where you are growing at 444 grain, It is unfair that they are testing you on THC, It’s like, I am a swimmer. And they’re testing me on running. That is unfair, that is really unfair. And that puts all of the pressure on the farmer. And it was a lot that was done without asking me, why didn’t they ask me that question before they made the law and so if not, but now that the law is in place, you have to abide by the law period. It depends a lot on the timing of your crop. So I would base it on timing. Because even though many of the hemp strains are for fiber or for grain, they can turn a little hot. Many of them do not, and should not right, due to their genetics, they should have a truncated THC gene, they usually have a complete CBD gene. I am, but they should have a truncated THC gene, so many of them should not turn hot. However, genetics are complicated for diseases because it’s an additive effect it’s a gene with major effects, but all additive effects between all of this cluster of genes are found in the same region of the genome however, I would put in more on the timing, if that it’s gonna turn hard around this time, harvest before.


Michael Luliucci asked a question and said I’m actually right outside of Canada and some really amazing things that kind of happened in the education sector for me because I created a new education system in 2011. And It required a blockchain and so I partnered with his coin, and we are creating this educational program. We have 144-hour credit for our apprentice program we’re putting together and we’re creating an educational platform for secondary and primary education as well. So how do you see education playing a huge role in both the social equity play in New York and many other states, to bring them into being able to participate in a meaningful way? And at the same time, educate the community, like, from Cornell’s perspective, or the people from the speaker’s perspectives? How do you see the integration of education is a core part of what many of these states are doing with marijuana and social equity reconciliation? How do you see that play out? in a meaningful way?


The Hemp Science


Dr. Heather Grab replied and said. You raised a critical point. And for those who aren’t in New York State, just to give you a little bit of the background context that has come up, we are currently in the process of establishing a legal adult-use recreational market in our state. So we have had hemp production here for a number of years. And our state did vote on a measure that passed to allow for this adult-use market. But right now we’re in this period, where the office of cannabis management that’s going to regulate that market is establishing all of the specific rules and regulations that participants in that industry will need to follow. And we’ve been, among the most progressive states in the US, in terms of the policies that were included, really strong social and economic equity initiatives that are part of that. So one that we were sort of alluded to earlier, is this opportunity for everyone in the state to home grow, which I think is a very positive social equity position. But, of course, raise these concerns about what if my neighbor bought some seeds online from some person they don’t know about what it means to have a meal plan and your cultivation. And that speaks to Michael’s point about this need for education that’s out there. And Cornell certainly has entered this space, but offering the degree program that I’m going to share with you, which is really a more traditional education program, when we think about cannabis cultivation practices. So this is a program for folks who really want to dig deep into the science of the plant, and also enter into the industry at maybe more of a management level. And I think there’s a lot of potentials for folks to enter our program. In a social equity pathway, I’ve been really excited about the opportunity to engage with industry sponsors, who also are feeling this urge to have these social equity positions as well, and ways that we together can partner to support students who would come and, work with us at Cornell and our program, and then move right into the industry in a way they’re where really prepared to hit the ground running.


Hemp Science MPS


Dr. Heather Grab said  I will transition into talking about the program that we developed as a response to the needs of the industry to have a very well-trained workforce that understands the entire supply chain. So whether it’s thinking about setting up a site for cultivation or processing, understanding the regulatory framework, understanding those key decisions around cultivars selection, that can be so critical, all the way through processing product development and marketing decisions along the way. So our program was developed to help to create that, you know, the pool of professionals who are out there and ready to engage. With the hemp industry, we offer students really access to state-of-the-art facilities as well as experts at our Cornell and agritech campuses, where they have a close mentoring relationship with particular faculty members in our program. 


Program Overview


Dr. Heather Grab said, so this is a one-year program. And it’s really geared towards folks who want to get into the industry right away. So this is not a graduate degree program for folks who are going to go on to become academics. But it’s really for students that you may consider hiring into your own organizations or sending folks who are already within your organizations to engage with this kind of a program. It’s incredibly hands-on during that one-year period on campus, but also fairly coarse intensive. So students are paired with a faculty mentor in the area of their expertise. So for example, Dr. Daniela Vergara and I work together to co-advise students that are contributing to that production manual that she mentioned earlier. There are even collaborators who are on the call today, who we’re working with, to mentor students and best practices for fiber production, for example. And in addition to those mentoring relationships, students do about 30 hours of credit coursework. So there’s quite a lot in there. And this all results in an accredited degree from Cornell. 


Who should apply?


Dr. Heather Grab said. So we do require that folks have a bachelor’s degree before they come to the program. And again, it’s more for students that have a little bit of science but are pretty sure that they want to move into a career within the hemp or cannabis industry. So in addition to myself, and Dr. Daniela Vergara.


Our Faculty Advisors


Dr.Heather Grab introduced their faculty advisors and said. 


Dr. Carlyn Buckier – Hemp MPS Program Lead Science Communication

Dr. Neil Mattson – Controlled Environment Ag

Dr. Bill Miller – Greenhouse Cropping Systems

Dr. Larry Smart- Breeding and Genetics

Dr. Christine Smart – Plant Pathology


There’s a range of other faculty experts that participate in this program that cover a wide variety of topics from science communication to a controlled environment, agriculture, pathology, Breeding, Genetics, Pharmacology, Analytical Chemistry, Seed Science, Weed Science, Microbiology, and food science, we really cover the full spectrum. And we’ve developed a suite of classes that are specific to cannabis and hemp cultivation and processing. 




Dr. Heather Grab talked about the curriculum and said. So students start out taking two courses on that topic in the fall semester, one on broadly on how business practices and regulations and looking at different industry trends over time. They also take the hand production systems course with me and design an enterprise production system complete from genetic selection all the way through an enterprise budget plan for whatever production system they’re interested in. They also take in the spring semester course specific to breeding in genetics, as well as classes on pharmacology, and then a hands-on lab with myself focused on hemp processing.


Additional Courses 


Dr. Heather Grab said. So they also have access to all of the amazing resources at Cornell, including courses in many other areas. 


  1. Farm Business Management
  2. Hydroponics Food Production & Management
  3. PostHarvest Biology of Horticultural Crops
  4. Integrated Pest Management
  5. Skills for Public Engagement
  6. Medicinal Botany & Drug Discovery


Cornell has fantastic entrepreneurship programs and an excellent Hotel School. For those who are interested in the retail side of hospitality. Our food science program is among the best in the country for those who are interested in developing hemp-based food products. So students can select from a broad array of other courses to fill in all the rest of their credit hours in this program. 


Facilities and Equipment


Dr. Heather Grab said they get to use for their capstone projects and in our class, all of the excellent greenhouse growth chambers, research farms, which we have hundreds of acres and lab spaces on campus. We have a food processing pilot plant at our research station in Geneva, the agritech campus here with a full-grain processing line, everything from the hauling all the way through oil pressing. And an area that has received a lot of attention recently, at least in New York State is making sure that we have folks in the industry who are well prepared to meet all of the regulatory testing demand that will be generated through our adult-use market but also the demands of our industrial hemp market in terms of the analytical side of things. 


Capstone Project 


Dr. Heather Grab said. So we’re really excited to make some connections here today with folks who may want to collaborate with us on our courses, but also, in particular, to reach out to folks who may want to engage with students in our program in the development of their capstone projects. So these are really broad in their structure, but also provide an opportunity for students to sort of identify an area that they’re excited about working on. But that also has a lot of value for the industry. So solving a particular question that an industry stakeholder might have about whatever process that they are interested in, whether that’s cultivation or processing all the way through product development. 


Recent Capstone Projects


  1. Review of Challenges and Opportunities in Developing the NYS Hemp Fiber IndustryAnthony Barraco III
  2. A Rapid Method for Chemotype Determination in Young Cannabis Plants Kady Maser
  3. Evaluation of Frost Tolerance in HempAndrei Galic


Dr. Heather Grab said. A couple of examples of projects that we’ve had recently include one by Anthony Barraco III, who is now working at the USDA hemp germplasm collection, who did an evaluation of challenges and opportunities for developing the fiber industry in the Northeast. And he actually did that in partnership with South Hemp Techno, which is a company based in Italy, and had the opportunity to travel to Italy as part of that capstone project and work with them to see how they have developed their supply chain for fiber processing. I’ve also had students who have worked with me in collaboration with a company called Orange Photonics. That’s a testing company that provides a portable HPLC system, which is a great option for growers who are worried about when their crops may be approaching that upper limit in terms of the threshold of point 3%. That is my point of view. So this is a portable machine that growers can take with them to their fields or to their growth sites, and take a small sample and understand where their plants are at very quickly in just a matter of minutes. So we worked with orange photonics and one of our students Katie maser, to develop a new application for their existing platform that would allow us to know the chemotype of a plant, whether it’s going to be a high THC or a high CBD, or maybe even a cannabinoid, neutral deficient plant, at a very early stage in development. And then other students have worked on projects that are more about the physiology of the plant. So Andre college worked with a grower from Vermont, who had made some interesting observations about Frost’s tolerance among different cultivars on their farm. And so he did several follow-up experiments to help us understand how climatic events like these early season frosts might impact the development of hemp. So I’m super excited about opportunities to work with folks who are here, in different areas of the industry, and students in our program. 



  • Policy & Regulations, Cultivations, Processing & Product Development, Brand Management and Marketing, Logistics & Consulting, Laboratory Services.


We’ve had students who have gone on to diverse different careers within the industry so far. But just with a note that if there is someone you know, who may be interested in applying to this program, we are currently accepting applications for our fall 2022 cohort. So that’s the group that will start with us in fall 2022. And those are due on February 15. But it’s not there’s some opportunity in or approaching that date really rapidly. And then of course, as we are bringing in this new cohort of students, I’m really excited about making sure that we can pair them with industry partners who may haven’t overlap in interest. 


Question & Answer

  • Nicole Ndiaye asked a question and said. Someone raised the question about getting around the bachelor’s requirement. Because in my community, it’s not a lot of people who have a college education, much less a bachelor’s degree. So how will we combat that issue? That was something that I was concerned about. I have a Master’s but not everyone is like me. I did love school. SoI was so eager to even do this program. But everyone’s not in that position. And the other thing is, they may not even be in the position, but they may not have the ability in the syllabus to be able to get, through the curriculum part of the program, hands-on experience but how do we combat the issues of literacy?


Dr. Heather Grab replied and said.  You raised two super important points, one about how we can support students into a pathway to be successful in the program, which I will take first. And one option that’s available to students who do not already have a bachelor’s degree, is that they could actually take all of these courses in a bachelor’s degree program at Cornell. And I would encourage them to take that route. So all of these classes are available through that bachelor’s degree pipeline. And there’s, of course, a whole other suite of resources that are available to support undergraduate students, from communities that have been potentially impacted by the war on drugs to access our educational programs at Cornell. And I’d be happy to connect you with those if you would like. So that’s one. And then the second is, what happens if there’s a student who comes in and maybe they have no background at all, inbreeding and genetics? How are they supported through that program? And I think, to be honest, I’ve taken almost every one of the courses that we offer here, just  to be sure that I’ve gotten the full experience and can advise students about what makes sense for them. So one is that you have a really strong mentor relationship, both with industry partners who can answer really important questions and know right now about what’s happening on the ground, but also with your faculty mentors who are there to guide you, and support you through all of these really different aspects whether we have students who are coming to our program that actually they have a background in real estate or in finance, and they’ve never grown a plant in their life. So we try to recognize that students in our program, independent of the privilege and advantages that they may have had, are all coming with very different experiences. And so we tried to make a program that’s really tied to their particular interests, but at the same time is accessible to everyone who’s in the program.


  1. Mandi Lynn Kerr asked a question and said. About your capstone, can you just dive into a little bit on a basic level for those that don’t understand what that program is and what the benefits are?


Dr. Heather Grab replied and said. This is a master’s degree, but it’s not the same as a research track master’s degree, where a student might set out to create or generate some new knowledge, often resulting in a peer-reviewed publication. So sort of like the data that Dr. Daniela Vergara shared with us there. So this is a little bit different in that we really would like to have students engage with much more applied problems. So a student might pick something, for example, like we have students that are interested in cultivation. And there, they might dig into all of that knowledge that exists with the guidance of faculty members, like Dr. Daniela Vergara and me, to help them understand that knowledge and then to translate that knowledge for other folks who may not have the opportunity to come to Cornell and participate in our program, but need to know all of these really important scientific advances. It’s a hard-to-describe thing because it is so flexible in terms of how it’s set up. But we do that with the intention of allowing students to have a lot of flexibility and to have the opportunity to make these really important connections with our industry partners.


  1. Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi commented and asked a question and he said. I have a couple of comments and questions. I like the idea of this program because its structure in a way provides a really good scientific background for the students have been my observation 30 credits, it’s really difficult to accomplish in one year for non-thesis students. That’s one, two, when you look at the structure of the courses, I didn’t see any soil courses, our fertility courses included, which is most of these students, they get to deal with the real world, you select the right soil, the right fertility program, the just observation for you to reflect on it. So from that perspective, The program is a great idea to look into another venue, in which the lady raised the question about non-degree involved, which is the certificate program. It doesn’t have to be fully concentrated in that large, wide number of courses, just the basics to give them a certificate, just like an apprentice program. And that’s been done in different universities. And the third common, it goes to the availability of this course, for people who are outside New York. And that’s kind of a distance education program. Because not everyone seems to be it has to be resident students to do that work. What if you were to encourage the industry to be part of that experience to provide that platform, and they do their work in their own industry, or experiment in their own estate, just ideas, we have that at Iowa State University now about hemp, but we call it a master of agronomy program that sir Stuart students even internationally involved in so that might expand your program to go way beyond just New York.


Dr. Heather Grab answered and said. I think to one of your earlier points, there’s a whole selection of other courses that students can take. And yes, getting 30 credit hours done in just two short semesters is challenging. That’s sort of the normal undergraduate Course Load that students are undertaking. So we do offer a lot of support to students to make sure that they are successful in getting those credit hours completed, while at the same time planning, developing, and executing their independent research projects. And so we do have a very hands-on curriculum here at the Ethica campus. But one option that we do provide is through our E Cornell platform. So we’re just beginning to translate many of these same hemp courses that we offer as well as other courses in different plant science areas onto this distance learning online platform. And one of the first ones to go up that I would encourage many of you to check out is our hemp breeding and genetics classes that were developed by Dr. Larry Smart are now offered online through the E Cornell platform for folks who are not interested in getting a degree and going back to school full time but still want to have access to this information. So you would still get a certificate for completing those courses. And you can really mix and match depending on your particular area of interest using that e-Cornell online platform.


Agricultural Genomics Foundation


(With Powerpoint Presentation)


Dr. Daniela Vergara said I run a nonprofit organization. As I said in the beginning, the Agricultural Genomics Foundation, we have two important things in the agricultural genomic foundation one is a podcast that I highly recommend, run by one of the board members, Emily Feta, who is a financial analyst in the cannabis industry. We also have courses that we teach at CU Boulder. This course, Modern Cannabis Science is co-taught by myself and another of the board members Anna Schwabe This is through continuing ed so anyone can take this course, we recommend that people know some biology to take this course. And it’s of course taught by two biologists so it’s biology-heavy. But um, anyone can take this course. And it’s through our continuing education at CU Boulder, and we teach it every semester. And we taught it, for example, this winter semester. Another thing and this is coming through someone that asked a question in the chat. 


Collaboration with Terpenes Testing Magazine


I started a collaboration with Terpenes Testing Magazine, and I am publishing writing for a month with them. One of the writings is going to be on multipurpose hemp because someone asked that question, and I do think that it’s possible. And as a matter of fact, there is multi-purpose hemp, you know, at least dual purpose for fiber and for grain. But I do have my doubts about flour, maybe flour, and fiber could be possible. But I do have my doubts. But anyway, there’s going to be writing regarding that. Another thing that I wanted to mention is we are starting a professional meetup here in New York. It’s also going to have been transmitted through zoom. So if you’re not in New York State, it’s going to be hearing kind of day one next Thursday, so a week from today. But if you are not in New York State, you can reach us through zoom. And I think that Dr. Madi and Mandy are going to be talking on May 18 or May 14, I don’t remember but so that’s going to be through zoom anyway, but we will still meet in person and we would have a screen where they would talk about it. So this is happening. And the idea is to educate the public about the hemp and the marijuana industry. And the last thing that I wanted to show is our website at Cornell. We have a website where we have a bunch of different information. There is someone that we have, for example, the handouts from the previous hemp days. Mandi Lynn Kerr and Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi  are going to be also involved hopefully in the next Hemp Day in August 2022. And if you navigate this page, which I found a little bit hard to navigate, there is a lot of really good information. And that’s why I am trying to put the information that we have on this website in our head manual that it’s going to be available by August 2022. When Mandi Lynn Kerr and Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi  gave their talk at our Hemp Day. I know that this was a lot of information, but I really recommend you to look at these websites. And we’re in the process of shifting things a little bit. So this is a little bit old, but keep patients again, the course that we have through continuing edit that is produced by an Agricultural Genomics Foundation is called Modern Cannabis Science. Our writings with terpene testing. This first one was on cannabis and sex and sex chromosomes, our New York meetup, and that Cornell website.


Question and Answer


  1. Bridget Goodwin asked a question. About CBG. So I’m growing hemp in Australia under license. And I was really interested in the briefings from Ethan Russo about the power of CBG. And from what I’ve read you can harvest the flower, so four weeks into a six-week cycle and hopefully obtain CBG. I was very interested in this. Obviously, also growing I think going PR 13 and pheromone here in Australia. I wanted to know, in relation to CBG. Are there specific strains of hemp that are good, or is CBG as a mother cannabinoid naturally occurring across all of the hemp plants?


Dr. Daniela Vergara replied and said. There are hemp strains that are good for CBG. I am going to be writing about CBD with terpenes. And testing the problem. I’ve already written this because I wrote all of this during the summer. I am publishing as I go, so I already wrote them, but they’re not out there. And it’s going to be this year. CBG.  It’s a precursor molecule. What that means is that there are other genes that come afterward. And if you have a truncated gene that means that it’s a gene that is functional, it’s kind of incomplete. If you have a truncated version of the THC gene and the CBD gene and the CVC gene, which are the genes that come afterward, then you will accumulate more CBG. So there are some hemp strains like low THC marijuana, really, that can accumulate more CBG because they have incomplete versions of these genes downstream. And there are those strains and I think that one of the companies that produce them here in the US, Oregon CBD, has high CBG strains. I think that there’s another company that also produces high CBD strains. But yes, there are those, those varieties are available. And I would be if you grow them in Australia, please let me know how that goes. I’d be super curious about your experience.


  1. Bridget Goodwin asked a question. It’s just so crazy with the licensing we’re allowed to have under 1%, THC, and our crops under license. And we have to submit hours to be tested to make sure they’re not hot. But I find this quite fascinating now, let’s say with Ethan Russo’s briefings on CBG, that science is way ahead of the law, of course, and I don’t think they realize that we can all grow CBG in low THC crops, which I find fascinating. So I don’t know if the genies are quite out of the bottle yet with people understanding that what do you think? Do you think it’s becoming well known that as hemp grows, we can be growing CBG?


Dr. Daniela Vergara answered and all of the other compounds.  And that’s the beauty of cannabis. I think that there are so many different compounds. It’s not one compound, but it’s a mixture in different ratio ratios in different plants. So do all of them, and not only that but the terpenes as well. And how are you producing them? Why are you producing them? When are you producing them? How do you increase them? Can you increase them? Is there a trade-off to increasing them? we know that there is a trade-off to increasing CBD, that is that you come with THC, which makes sense Biologically, it’s like it makes sense. I think if it’s happening, I don’t think that the genie is still out of the bottle. It’s not like alcohol or tobacco. But we’re getting there. I think that we will get there slowly. But surely, look at the US. I was in Colorado in 2014 legal cannabis in and it’s like it’s gonna legalize federally tomorrow. And here we are. Years later on, where is it? So I think that we are getting there. But it’s, we need a lot of us and we need platforms like this one, in order to understand the importance and that difference between the plant-like, I know that Mandi Lynn Kerr is really into fiber right now. But I know that she really understands the marijuana industry. And she’s completely cognizant that it’s the same plant and so we need to educate the public about it. 


Drew Kitt commented and said. I went through this certified GA program. So it was a very focused and humble legacy terroir and really understood that cannabis is a combination of the cultivars. So what is it that you’re growing the cultivator who is growing it and then the methodology how do you grow it and really recognizing that you could take the same cultivar and grow it indoor greenhouse light depth, outdoor, how you feed it, what you do with it, you can manipulate it to really meet the market demand, whether that’s for a smokeable which is why you’d want to manipulate that, but also, you know, for oil, so there are different ways to approach bringing it to market and terpenes which I think are highly overlooked? also realizing cannabis it wants to produce THC. So at this point, three arbitrary numbers are really unfortunate for the industry and I think to a lot of extents, is why it’s resulted in this delta eight kinds of fiasco, which is a whole nother rabbit hole. 


  1. Drew Kitt asked a question and said. But my question or curiosity is when you’re educating are you talking about kind of how to produce the plan to meet market demand? And how do you get around the FDA in its requirement that you can’t make any claims? So it doesn’t help with sleep and it won’t help with your anxiety. It doesn’t help with inflammation like, how do you kind of teach the plant also to be able to bring it to market, but then how to play in these confined rules. It’s kind of really an unfortunate situation we’re in but just kind of some thoughts and then kind of general questions.


Dr. Heather Grab answered and said. So we walk this line all the time as a federally funded institution that cannot legally work with high THC cannabis. But acknowledging also that many of our students are going to go on to careers within that segment of the industry. So this is something we are very, very much aware of. It touches all aspects, including, you know, I mentioned that we have an excellent food science program here. And FDA also maintains that cannabinoids cannot be included in food and beverage products, despite New York State’s opposing regulation to that, that promotes the inclusion of those molecules into food and beverage. So we certainly walk that line. And I think the approach that I have taken is to be very clear about what the science supports. So when we’re talking about the pharmacological aspects of any cannabinoid molecule in class, we base that discussion on what the science has supported in terms of the actions of particular molecules. And of course, we recognize that our students may go out and pursue careers where they are engaging and interacting with the public. So we’re also making sure that they are very aware of this regulatory framework that we all need to operate within.


Dr. Daniela Vergara added and said. In New York, because hemp is legal I can go to hemp grows and I can actually  be encouraged to touch the plant during my working hours, and, which is the reason why I came here from Colorado because Colorado, despite having a legal marijuana industry, I was not allowed to touch any plants during my working hours, even if, and then it changed through hemp, but then it was you, I didn’t have that possibility. At CU, I didn’t have the possibility of working with the plants that we do work here at Cornell  and that was great, because I was doing genomics anyway. I was doing informatics. Once you sequence a genome, and you have all of the DNA, you just need to do informatics work and statistics. So I didn’t really like all of the work that I did with a phenotype with measuring physical characteristics of the plant was done through other people, for example, Ben Holmes, from Centennial seeds, if for those of you who know him, he was part of my work. So now it’s easier for me and I agree completely with what Dr.Heather Grab just said that you need to make sure to work with the sciences and to make sure that you tell people, honestly, and students honestly, this is what we can do. And this is what we cannot do. And this is what we want the sciences and this is what we know. And make sure about it. There was something that Drew Kitt said that I thought was weird, but I mean, I don’t remember you were talking about the terpenes and I do think that honesty and having enhanced the laws and the regulations is really important.

Drew Kitt said. So yeah, as it related to terpenes it was just the value in the benefit of them but 95% of cannabis is made up of mere seen carrying a filing, pining lining, limonene, and terpinolene. So there’s really five but then when you get into the nuance between the fruit, the fuel, the floral and the earthy, different aromas, I mean, it’s a super complex plant, and the research is critical and I’m so glad that we can hopefully do more. I mean, OSU you just saw did some research recently as it related to COVID with CBD and CBG- A.


Mandi Kerr
Author: Mandi Kerr