Dr. Daniela Vergara is an evolutionary biologist who received her doctorate in 2013 from Indiana University’s Ecology, Evolution and Behavior program. Her doctoral thesis dealt with one of the fundamental questions in evolutionary biology: why do organisms reproduce sexually instead of asexually, and how disease is linked to sexual reproduction.
For her current postdoctoral research, she is advised by Professor Nolan Kane from CU Boulder’s biology department. Drs. Kane and Vergara started the Cannabis Genomic Research Initiative (CGRI), a group that aims in understanding the Cannabis genome. CGRI plans to associate important phenotypic properties from the plant, such as the production of cannabinoids, terpenoids and sex determination to specific regions of the genome. Specifically, Dr. Vergara has been exploring the maternally inherited genomes, such as the chloroplast and the mitochondria, and the genes involved in the cannabinoid synthesis pathway.
Daniela founded and is the director of The Agricultural Genomics Foundation (AGF), a 501c3 organization that aims in becoming a genomic repository (“library of genomes”) helping CGRI perform their research. AGF also educates the public about science, Cannabis, evolutionary biology, and genomics through public talks. For information on how to donate, visit: http://AgriculturalGenomics.org
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.