Committee Blog: 13 Women Cannabis Scientists to Follow and Support
By Bethany Moore
March 27, 2023
/ Community
/ Education

Committee Blog: 13 Women Cannabis Scientists to Follow and Support

by Russ Hudson, Canna Advisors
Member of NCIA’s Scientific Advisory Committee


These 13 women cannabis scientists and researchers deserve to be recognized for their significant scientific and academic merit alone, irrespective of their gender. For now, we are identifying these stellar individuals as women solely because of the cannabis industry’s longstanding domination by males. Supporting these professionals in their scientific work with cannabis is critical to advancing the global cannabis agenda, which seeks to make cannabis medicine and other products readily available to people globally. Sharing the work and efforts of these exceptional humans is precisely what is needed to inspire the next generation of cannabis scientists, where gender will no longer be a defining feature.        

Shawna Vreeke, Ph.D.

*Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Portland State University
*Cannabis Toxicology and Risk Assessment

Dr. Vreeke works with Ethan Russo and the team at True Terpenes, where she is Head of Research, performing risk assessments and managing the company’s toxicology program that she developed. With nearly a decade of experience already in laboratory research, Dr. Vreeke is expected to have a long and storied career in the science of cannabis.  


A First-Tier Framework for Assessing Toxicological Risk from Vaporized Cannabis Concentrates

A Simple Predictive Model for Estimating Relative E-cigarette Toxic Carbonyl Levels

Dihydroxyacetone levels in electronic cigarettes: Wick temperature and toxin formation. 

E-cigarettes can emit formaldehyde at high levels under conditions that have been reported to be non-averse to users

Triacetin Enhances Levels of Acrolein, Formaldehyde Hemiacetals, and Acetaldehyde in Electronic Cigarette Aerosols


Susan Trapp, Ph.D.

*Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Maryland
*Cannabis terpene researcher

Dr. Trapp is one of the world’s leading terpene experts, and she also happens to be an expert in cannabis, particularly where related to the plant’s chemical constituents. Dr. Trapp is the Senior Research Scientist for the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, she is the co-founder and chief scientist of a terpene company she founded called Terpedia, and she is an adjunct biology professor at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado. Dr. Trapp contributed commentary to The Big Book of Terps, and has authored the publications listed below:


Genomic Organization of Plant Terpene Synthases and Molecular Evolutionary Implications

Defensive Resin Biosynthesis in Conifers

Draft genome sequence of Mentha longifolia and development of resources for mint cultivar improvement

Gene expression profiling identifies inflammation and angiogenesis as distinguishing features of canine hemangiosarcoma

Molecular signatures of neoadjuvant endocrine therapies for breast cancer: characteristics of response or intrinsic resistance, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment


Riley Kirk, Ph.D.

*Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Rhode Island
*Cannabis educator and research scientist

Dr. Kirk is a natural product chemist working as a Cannabis Research Scientist for Real Isolates, LLC. She is also a cannabis science educator for Cannabichem, LLC, and has spent years donating her time to various worthy charitable causes and programs. 


Screening the PRISM Library against Staphylococcus aureus Reveals a Sesquiterpene Lactone from Liriodendron tulipifera with Inhibitory Activity

New Micropeptins with Anti-Neuroinflammatory Activity Isolated from a Cyanobacterial Bloom

Polyphenol Microbial Metabolites Exhibit Gut and Blood–Brain Barrier Permeability and Protect Murine Microglia against LPS-Induced Inflammation


Daniela Vergara, Ph.D.

*Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology from Indiana University Bloomington
*Cannabis researcher: genomics, breeding

A long-time dedicated researcher in the higher education industry, Dr. Vergara is currently an emerging crop specialist for Cornell University, a research associate with the University of Colorado Boulder, and the director and founder of the Agricultural Genomics Foundation based in Colorado. 


Widely assumed phenotypic associations in Cannabis sativa lack a shared genetic basis


Anna Schwabe, Ph.D.

*Ph.D. in Biological Education from University of Northern Colorado
*Cannabis educator and R&D specialist
*Cannabis genetics

Dr. Schwabe is a cannabis geneticist with a passion for studying inconsistencies in commercially available cannabis flower. Extremely active in the cannabis space and beyond, Dr. Schwabe is the Director of Cannabis Education for 420 Organics, the Director of Research and Development for Shore Organics, and an Associate Lecture Professor for the University of Colorado Boulder. 


Comparative Genetic Structure of Cannabis sativa Including Federally Produced, Wild Collected, and Cultivated Samples

Genomic Evidence That Governmentally Produced Cannabis sativa Poorly Represents Genetic Variation Available in State Markets

Research grade marijuana supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse is genetically divergent from commercially available Cannabis

Genetic tools weed out misconceptions of strain reliability in Cannabis sativa: Implications for a budding industry

Weeding out the truth behind Cannabis strain names: Genetic analyses confirm strain names are inconsistent and need regulation


Megan Mbengue

*Master of Science in Medical Cannabis Therapeutics from Pacific College
*Cannabis Nurse – CHPN, RN

Megan Mbengue, BSN, RN, CHPN is the founder of Trusted Cannabis Nurse, and has earned her reputation as a frank and passionate consumer educator in the cannabis industry. A longtime RN specializing in hospice and palliative care, Megan brings her passion for cannabis science education to the public, supported by a line of her own high quality hemp extract products.  


Jill Carreiro

*BS, Bioengineering, Arizona State University
*Cannabis analytical testing expert

Jill specializes in cannabis analytical chemistry, working as Vice President of Sales for Orange Photonics, a company that produces analytical testing equipment for the cannabis industry – most notably handheld and portable testing units. Jill has a strong scientific background in analytical instrumentation, supported by her education in bioengineering. 


Shabnam Sarshar, Ph.D.

*Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Biology and Phytochemistry from University of Munster
*Cannabis phytochemical researcher

Dr. Sarshar is passionate about cannabis for women’s health, having founded Laia’s FemBalance, a company that advocates for and encourages women’s health and other rights in Germany and worldwide. With an MBA in addition to a Ph.D., Dr. Sarshar is also a proficient and well-known business expert.  


Plants of the Gods and Their Recently Discovered Therapeutic Applications.

Traditionally used medicinal plants against uncomplicated urinary tract infections: Hexadecyl coumaric acid ester from the rhizomes of Agropyron repens (L.) P. Beauv. with antiadhesive activity against uropathogenic E. coli.


Allyn Howlett, Ph.D.

*Ph.D. in Biochemical Neuropharmacology from Rutgers University
*Professor at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
*Discoverer of CB1 receptor for cannabinoid agonists

Dr. Howlett is one of the most-published cannabis-specific scientists in the world, and comes highly recommended to this list by numerous well-respected cannabis scientists and researchers. Dr. Howlett is also a Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, where her expertise as a biochemical neuropharmacologist working with cannabinoid receptor signal transduction is highly valued by the current and next generation of cannabis and other professionals. 


Increased Angiotensin II Contraction of the Uterine Artery at Early Gestation in a Transgenic Model of Hypertensive Pregnancy Is Reduced by Inhibition of Endocannabinoid Hydrolysis

Alterations in the Medullary Endocannabinoid System Contribute to Age-related Impairment of Baroreflex Sensitivity

Is there a role for anandamide in cardiovascular regulation? Insights from studies of endocannabinoid metabolism

Steric Trigger as a Mechanism for CB1 Cannabinoid Receptor Activation

Early phytocannabinoid chemistry to endocannabinoids and beyond

WIN55212-2 Docking to the CB1 Cannabinoid Receptor and Multiple Pathways for Conformational Induction

Endocannabinoid System in Pregnancy Maintenance and Labor: A Mini-Review

Endocannabinoids and Reactive Nitrogen and Oxygen Species in Neuropathologies

Cannabinoid Receptor Interacting Protein 1a (CRIP1a) in Health and Disease

Acute Depletion of D2 Receptors from the Rat Substantia Nigra Alters Dopamine Kinetics in the Dorsal Striatum and Drug Responsivity

The Spicy Story of Cannabimimetic Indoles

The Endocannabinoid System and Oligodendrocytes in Health and Disease

Cannabinoid Receptor Interacting Protein 1a (CRIP1a): Function and Structure

WIN55212-2 Modulates Intracellular Calcium via CB1 Receptor-Dependent and Independent Mechanisms in Neuroblastoma Cells

Cannabinoid receptor interacting protein 1a interacts with myristoylated Gαi N terminus via a unique gapped β-barrel structure

CB1 Cannabinoid Receptors Stimulate Gβγ-GRK2-Mediated FAK Phosphorylation at Tyrosine 925 to Regulate ERK Activation Involving Neuronal Focal Adhesions

Thyroid Effects on Adenosine 3′,5′-Monophosphate Levels and Adenylate Cyclase in Cultured Neuroblastoma Cells

Medullary Endocannabinoids Contribute to the Differential Resting Baroreflex Sensitivity in Rats with Altered Brain Renin-Angiotensin System Expression


Ziva Cooper, Ph.D. 

*Ph.D. in Biopsychology from the University of Michigan
*Director of the UCLA Center for Cannabis and Cannabinoids

Dr. Cooper is the Director of the UCLA Center for Cannabis and Cannabinoids, and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. A longtime health care professional specializing in neurobiology, Dr. Cooper has been working in the cannabis industry for many years, including a former appointment on the Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Cooper has published numerous studies on various aspects of cannabis and cannabinoids. 


Impact of co-administration of oxycodone and smoked cannabis on analgesia and abuse liability

Methodology for controlled administration of smoked synthetic cannabinoids JWH-018 and JWH-073

Sex-Dependent Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Translational Perspective

Effects of ibudilast on oxycodone-induced analgesia and subjective effects in opioid-dependent volunteers

The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research

Effects of zolpidem alone and in combination with nabilone on cannabis withdrawal and a laboratory model of relapse in cannabis users.

Oral Cannabidiol does not Alter the Subjective, Reinforcing or Cardiovascular Effects of Smoked Cannabis.

Adverse Effects of Synthetic Cannabinoids: Management of Acute Toxicity and Withdrawal

Novel Pharmacologic Approaches to Treating Cannabis Use Disorder

Investigation of sex-dependent effects of cannabis in daily cannabis smokers

A human laboratory study investigating the effects of quetiapine on marijuana withdrawal and relapse in daily marijuana smokers

Effects of acute oral naltrexone on the subjective and physiological effects of oral D-amphetamine and smoked cocaine in cocaine abusers.

Comparison of a drug versus money and drug versus drug self-administration choice procedure with oxycodone and morphine in opioid addicts.

Comparison of the analgesic effects of dronabinol and smoked marijuana in daily marijuana smokers

Subjective, cognitive and cardiovascular dose-effect profile of nabilone and dronabinol in marijuana smokers.

Buprenorphine/naloxone as a promising therapeutic option for opioid abusing patients with chronic pain: reduction of pain, opioid withdrawal symptoms, and abuse liability of oral oxycodone.

Marijuana’s dose-dependent effects in daily marijuana smokers.

Nabilone decreases marijuana withdrawal and a laboratory measure of marijuana relapse.

Predictors of marijuana relapse in the human laboratory: robust impact of tobacco cigarette smoking status.

Effects of menstrual cycle phase on cocaine self-administration in rhesus macaques.

Glial modulators: a novel pharmacological approach to altering the behavioral effects of abused substances

Effects of baclofen and mirtazapine on a laboratory model of marijuana withdrawal and relapse.

Opioid antagonism enhances marijuana’s effects in heavy marijuana smokers.

Comparison of subjective, pharmacokinetic, and physiological effects of marijuana smoked as joints and blunts

Actions of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in cannabis: relation to use, abuse, dependence.

Cannabis reinforcement and dependence: role of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor.

Naltrexone Maintenance Decreases Cannabis Self-Administration and Subjective Effects in Daily Cannabis Smokers.

Sex-dependent effects of cannabis-induced analgesia


Carrie Cuttler, Ph.D.

*Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from the University of British Columbia 

Dr. Cuttler has published many valuable, relevant studies on cannabis and its constituents, especially in the field of obsessive use and addictive consumption, where her extensive education in psychiatry serves her and the public well. Dr. Cuttler is also an Assistant Professor with Concordia University.  


Blunted stress reactivity in chronic cannabis users

Psychometric properties of the Daily Sessions, Frequency, Age of Onset, and Quantity of Cannabis Use Inventory (DFAQ-CU)

Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder predict cannabis misuse

A cross-sectional survey of medical cannabis users: Patterns of use and perceived efficacy

Sex differences in cannabis use and effects: A cross-sectional survey of cannabis users

Mechanisms underlying the link between cannabis use and prospective memory


Michelle Glass, Ph.D.

*Head of the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology at the University of Otago

Dr. Glass has specialized in cannabis, researching, among other subjects, cannabinoids, neurodegenerative diseases, Huntington’s disease, and G-protein coupled receptors. According to her profile on The University of Octago, “Professor Glass’ research focuses on the expression, function and molecular pharmacology of the cannabinoid receptors and their potential role in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Her recent research interests have extended to identifying the mechanism by which synthetic cannabinoids are resulting in high levels of toxicity in the community and advising on the development of clinical trials for medicinal cannabis products.”


Cannabinoid receptors in the human brain: a detailed anatomical and quantitative autoradiographic study in the fetal, neonatal and adult human brain

Concurrent stimulation of cannabinoid CB1 and dopamine D2 receptors augments cAMP accumulation in striatal neurons: evidence for a Gs linkage to the CB1 receptor

Immunomodulation by cannabinoids is absent in mice deficient for the cannabinoid CB2 receptor.

The pattern of neurodegeneration in Huntington’s disease: a comparative study of cannabinoid, dopamine, adenosine and GABAA receptor alterations in the human basal ganglia in Huntington’s diseas

Cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous agonists

Concurrent stimulation of cannabinoid CB1 and dopamine D2 receptors enhances heterodimer formation: a mechanism for receptor crosstalk?

Synthetic cannabis: adverse events reported to the New Zealand Pharmacovigilance Centre

Receptor alterations in human neuro-degenerative diseases


Amber Wise, Ph.D.

*Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley
*Cannabis compliance and analytical testing expert

Dr. Wise is an analytical chemist and laboratory manager with extensive experience at multiple universities. The current Scientific Director for Medicine Creek Analytics as well as the Programming Chair for the Cannabis Chemistry Subdivision of ACS, Dr. Wise has published several studies on the aerosols of cannabis products and byproducts of cannabis extractions, as well as studies in other fields.  


Metals in Cannabis Vaporizer Aerosols: Sources, Possible Mechanisms, and Exposure Profiles

Strategies for Nonpolar Aerosol Collection and Heavy Metals Analysis of Inhaled Cannabis Products

Deeper Dive into Extractions: Multiphase CO2 Extractions for Full Spectrum Native Chemical Profiles

Understanding the Science of Cannabis Produce DevelopmentExtraction Basics, Scientifically Speaking

Upstream adverse effects in risk assessment: A model of polychlorinated biphenyls, thyroid hormone disruption and neurological outcomes in humans.

Are Oral Contraceptives Significant Contributors to Estrogenicity of Drinking Water?

Discrete Arrays of Liquid Crystal-Supported Proteolipid Monolayers as Phantom Cell Surfaces

Policy Recommendations for Addressing Potential Health Risks from Nanomaterials in Californi

Are there other cannabis scientists that should be included in this list? Let us know using the CONTACT FORM HERE, or connect with the author via LinkedIn:


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