Passion projects NC grad Gabriela Torrens towards success in her role with HESIC

Gabriela Torrens, inspecting a plant at the NC greenhouse.

If you would have told Gabriela (Gaby) Torrens that she would be working with Research & Innovation during the entirety of her time as a Niagara College (NC) student, and beyond, she wouldn’t have believed you.

“I never thought that I would be working for Research & Innovation this long – it’s so amazing to me that I’ve been able to be part of the Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre (HESIC) for the past few years,” said Gaby.

Originally from Brazil, Gaby graduated from Pontificia Universidade Católica do Paraná with a bachelor’s degree in biology, followed by a master’s degree in entomology from the Universidade Federal do Paraná.

With this strong background in horticulture, and a special interest in biological controls and integrated pest management (IPM), Gaby knew that coming to Canada, where the industry is very established, would be a good move for her career and education opportunities.

As she began looking for courses in Canada, Niagara College’s Greenhouse Technician Program stood out to her. “I was interested in the program, and when I saw there was a Research & Innovation division, I remember thinking, ‘I want to work there,’” said Gaby.

She applied and was accepted to NC. After two weeks of school, she applied for a role with HESIC as a Research Assistant and made her dreams a reality when she got the job.

“It was a great experience working as a Research Assistant because while I was learning in school, I was part of the research team and able to apply those theories I learned in class to real-world projects,” said Gaby.

She attributes her success with HESIC to her passion. “Passion is an important factor when you’re working professionally – you just need to love what you do,” she added.

Since graduating, she’s moved up the ranks with HESIC and is currently the Cannabis Research Associate. In this role, she’s responsible for executing research projects conducted in the CannaResearchBunker, HESIC’s controlled environment agriculture cannabis growing facility. Her main responsibility is to oversee all aspects of cannabis cultivation for research projects, including planting, transplanting, feeding, trimming, pruning, harvesting, and testing.

She works closely with the Project Research Lead, Technologist and student Research Assistants collecting, organizing, and analyzing data, as well as creating scientific reports and presentations.

“It was a great experience working as a Research Assistant because while I was learning in school, I was part of the research team and able to apply those theories I learned in class to real-world projects.” – Gabriela Torrens, Cannabis Research Associate, Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre

While her contract is wrapping up in May, she’s working on one particular project that is truly unique.

All projects are that much more successful because of a strong team, and that’s one of Gaby’s favourite parts of the job. “When the team is connected and communicating, we have a great workflow and all these projects are a real team effort,” said Gaby.

In her personal time, she enjoys being in contact with nature, exploring new sites, hiking, travelling, and engaging in sports such as bike riding and running.

While she doesn’t have a crystal ball that can tell her what the future holds, Gaby is positive that her passion and love for research will land her where she needs to be.

“Research is in my blood so as I apply to roles, I know that I’ll end up somewhere where I can continue applying my problem solving and critical thinking skills,” she said.

If you’re a current student unsure if working with R&I or HESIC is for you, Gaby’s advice would be to apply. “Just do it – apply! If you’re interested and have a passion for the greenhouse industry, it might be a great fit for you,” she added.

Work with R&I

If you have a project idea for HESIC, reach out to David DiPietro, Manager of Business Development, to start the conversation today. He will work with you to determine how best to meet your needs, whether our team performs a quick turnaround service, or a full innovation project. You can email him at [email protected].