Our powerful group...

                                                                                                                                                        Adapted from "The Salmon Sheet" - OSU

 Principal Investigator 

Jose Franco Da Cunha Leme Filho, Ph.D

Assistant Professor 

Dr. Jose Leme graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Agronomic Engineering at Universidade Estadual de Londrina. For his master’s degree, he studied Precision Agriculture at Auburn University, followed by his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech with a focus on Plant Sciences. He started at SIU in Fall 2021, bringing his expertise in cannabis science and cultivation systems. He has a joint appointment in the School of Forestry and Horticulture and the School of Biological Sciences. The Cannabis Biology and Cultivation Systems lab focuses on areas of controlled environment agriculture, plant secondary metabolites, nutraceutical/pharmaceutical biology, plant physiology, and growing practices. His team aims to determine how to leverage environmental controls (light intensity, duration, quality, temperature, and CO2), phenolics, plant nutrition, biostimulants, and hormones to improve plant yield and quality. More specifically, the research group is working on the development of techniques to maximize cannabinoids, non-cannabinoids (terpenes and flavonoids), fiber, and grain productivity/quality via plant physiological, biochemical, and agricultural approaches. 

 Graduate Students 

Spencer Schuchman

Master's degree student

"My name is Spencer Schuchman, I am 23 and currently working towards my masters degree in PSAS under Dr. Leme. My research is focused on hemp and the possible effects elicited by exogenous applications of plant growth regulators on trichome density and cannabinoid concentration. I received my bachelor’s degree in Horticulture, May 2021. I am from Waterloo Illinois and chose to continue my education at SIUC because it is close to home and I love the area. I think it is very exciting that SIU is expanding it’s hemp/cannabis program this year,  I am very excited to see what my research brings to the world of cannabis knowledge. In my spare time I like to watch sports, play hockey, and hang out with friends and family. " 

Bryan Foster

Ph.D student

"My name is Bryan Foster and I am a second year doctoral student in the Plant Biology program. My research pertains to feral hemp (Cannabis sativa) varieties in the Midwest. My research is broken down into three parts: 1). A field study using GIS tools to identify the population demography of feral hemp within Illinois to determine what factors (biotic and abiotic) contribute to its success; 2). Weed emergence trials to determine whether or not hemp may be a good cover crop and what varieties (feral & industrial) would be a good fit for Southern Illinois climate; and 3). Competition experiments looking at the effects of interspecific competition on the THC, CBD and fiber production within feral and industrial varieties of hemp. Not a lot is known about this species of plant and factors pertaining to its cultivation, so I am hoping my research is not only useful for the scientific community but to potential growers as well. "

Shiksha Sharma

Master's degree  student

"My name is Shiksha Sharma, and I have a bachelor's degree in horticulture from Tribhuvan University (Nepal). I began my master's degree in plant biology under the guidance of Dr. Leme. My future research will be focused on cannabis and its cultivation, including how the controlled environment system, as well as other technological devices and sensors, will improve the production of cannabinoids and other secondary metabolites. I am very excited about my upcoming project because it will be my first time working on such a unique and interesting topic. I can't wait to share the results of my experiment with the world of cannabis science, and I hope it will be beneficial for cannabis growers."

Dila Ozev

Master's degree  student

“My name is Dila Ozev, and I am a Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Bioengineering graduate from Sabanci University, Turkey. Currently, I am doing my M.Sc. in Organismic Biology, Evolutionary Biology, and Paleobiology at the University of Bonn, Germany. Recently, I have started to work on my master's thesis in Dr. Leme’s Lab as a visiting research scholar at the Department of Plant Biology / Horticulture, SIU. My project focuses on different fertilization regimes, including silicic acid, in indoor cultivation. We will evaluate hemp morphology and physiology using both feral (wild) and industrial varieties of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.). The project results will also create complementary data for Bryan Foster’s Ph.D. dissertation, which focuses on weedy species competition and its effects on hemp morphology, physiology, and chemical profiles, using similar methodology, procedures, and hemp cultivars. Thanks to Dr. Leme’s guidance, my dream of being a cannabis scientist as a Turkish woman came true, and I believe exploring cannabis science will help me to contribute to nature and Mother Earth as much as I can.”

Brenda King

Master's degree  student

"My name is Brenda King. I received my bachelor of science degree in horticulture from Southern Illinois University. SIU has shown inclusivity. I am a non-traditional student (a grandmother) in a wheelchair and included in all aspects of instruction. I began my master’s degree in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems. My advisor and mentor is Dr. Jose Leme. My interest is in the environmental impact of cannabis. Cannabis (hemp) is a phytoremediator of toxic substances that may cause illness in humans. Hemp may help clean the environment and make mined lands arable for farming. My research will focus on hemp’s ability to remediate heavy metals. I’m excited to be able to determine the best management practices to grow hemp on mined lands, making the land usable for farming. I look forward to sharing my findings with those in the cannabis industry, farmers, and conservationists."

Gorman Saunders

Master's degree  student

"My name is Gorman Saunders, a Cannabis enthusiast currently pursuing a master’s degree in plant biology from SIU-Carbondale with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from UT-Martin. My research for Dr. Leme’s lab explores mechanostimulation in Cannabis and how we might utilize those stressors to maximize growth and optimize our use of inputs. The indoor study utilizes vibration and high-stress training to illicit stress responses in the plant that will potentially improve the growth pattern and cannabinoid concentrations. The outdoor study is investigating the use of biostimulants that contain humic and phytic acids to manage stress responses in Cannabis to better help them respond to high-stress training as well as quantifying their impact on yield and cannabinoid concentration. Very grateful for the opportunity to help advance our knowledge and understanding of this most useful plant."

Shamim Ahmed

Master's degree  student

"I am Shamim Ahmed, an Agricultural Science graduate who came from a country located eight thousand miles away from the US—Bangladesh, and joined Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) in the Fall 2022. My academic journey, marked by being a Plant Biology master’s student at SIUC, combined with my rich research experiences in an incredibly diverse environment, has instilled in me a passion for research and a commitment to advancing knowledge in the field of Cannabis biology. Under the guidance of Dr. Leme, for my master's thesis, I am investigating the competitive response of Cannabis sativa L. to different agricultural weed species that includes both a field as well as a controlled greenhouse experiment. During the project, I aim to quantify differences in the competitive response of hemp cultivars with various weed species at a range of ratios by measuring plant growth, physiological response, and nitrogen assimilation. I am very excited about the possible outcome of my ongoing research and looking forward to contributing to the burgeoning cannabis science."

 Undergraduate students

Alyssa Zhan

Undergraduate student

Congratulations to our student, Alyssa Zhan, for winning the REACH Award. The funds will be used to test the oxidative hydrolysis dissolution (OHD) process developed as a method of carbon sequestration that dissolves any solid organic material into a water solution, generating simple organic molecules, including fulvic and humic acids that can be used as plant biostimulants. We will evaluate the effects of OHD on corn, cannabis, and potentially vegetable development and secondary metabolite production.