Dr. Daniela Vergara is an evolutionary biologist researching Cannabis genomics at the University of Colorado Boulder. In addition to her multiple publications in Cannabis, she founded and directs a non-profit organization, the Agricultural Genomics Foundation (AGF; AgriculturalGenomics.org). AGF’s aim is to make Cannabis science available to a broad public
Dr. Vergara’s latest scientific publications include the comparison of the federal Cannabis to that produced by the private market, showing that the government’s Cannabis lacked potency and variation. These results were featured in news platforms such as The Atlantic, Science and FiveThirtyEight. Some of her other scientific publications are a compilation on the existing genomic tools available for Cannabis research that was featured in Science, and the maternally inherited genomes (chloroplast and mitochondria). Vergara has authored these publications advised by Dr. Nolan Kane whose group at CU Boulder she joined in 2013. These publications are a product of collaborations between graduate and undergraduate students, and scientists from the Cannabis Industry.
Through AGF, Vergara educates the public about science, Cannabis, evolutionary biology, and genomics. AGF also supports the Cannabis Genomic Research Initiative (CGRI; CannabisGenomics.org), group that Drs. Vergara and Kane founded to explore the Cannabis genome.
Currently, Dr. Vergara is exploring the genes related to the production of CBD and THC, and is associating this important physical trait to the genome.
Most of Vergara’s research has been funded by private individuals who believe in her cause with donations to AGF that holds a 501(c)3 status. To get updates of her research, follow Dr. Vergara on twitter (@CannaGenomics).
When building the cannabis industry from the ground up, why is gender parity (having at least 50% women) so important?
For me for several reasons: 1.) Populations of sexual organisms are usually 50% female, 50% male. This is mostly true for the human species as well (there are more men than women but it could be due to Indians and Chinese -the two most numerous cultures- killing their women). Why then would it be OK to have gender disparity when it comes to knowledge/industry/wealth? 2.) There is wide evidence suggesting that a balanced industry where women are leaders and make an important part of the industry does better. For example, companies where there is a balanced gender parity do better than those dominated by men. 3.) It is time!! The time came where we can finally say WE ARE FED UP!!! Plus, this is a plant, a natural occurring organism that gives us things such as food and medicine and it is great that as women we can make sure that we are improving the well-being of our population.
What social justice and/or criminal justice reforms do you want the US to make around its drug policy, particularly around cannabis?
Please stop the mass incarceration particularly targeted towards the black community.
Why are environmentally sustainable business practices essential to the future of the cannabis industry?
I disagree with this question. Environmental sustainable business practices are not essential to the cannabis industry, they are essential to all industries, to the future of the human population and to the future of almost all organisms that inhabit this planet. We are (to my knowledge) the only species that has changed the environment of an entire planet and that has caused the mass extinction of thousands of species. If we do not start with sustainable business practices, sustainable household practices and in general environmentally friendly practices everywhere we are definitely doomed.
How do you incorporate gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability into your work and the growth of your business/organization?
I make sure that the students that I mentor are both female and male and I try for them to have projects together and work together.