Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre Team

Kimberley Cathline is the Research Program Manager of the Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre (HESIC). In her role, she oversees projects in the areas of precision agriculture technology, environmental technology, horticultural practices, and greenhouse research.

Kimberley has 18 years’ experience in applied horticulture research – most recently at the Vineland Research & Innovation Centre – managing numerous horticulture research projects, and previously at the University of California, Davis, where she managed viticulture research in lab, field and greenhouse environments. Kimberley holds a BSc (Hon. with Distinction) in Plant Biology from the University of Guelph and an MSc in Biological Sciences, specializing in Plant Sciences, from Brock University. 

Research Program Manager, HESIC
Daniel J. Patterson Campus

Christine George is the research lead for the Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre (HESIC). She leads and supports the success of applied research projects mainly for the Greenhouse Technology Network, a Niagara College-led initiative that brings together research institutions and greenhouse and technology businesses to accelerate the development, commercialization and adoption of new technologies. Research projects focus on validating novel products and/or technology through testing within greenhouses.

Also a faculty member at NC since 2019, Christine is a partial load professor teaching Plant Science 2 in the School of Environment and Horticulture program. After receiving her Master’s degree in Soil Science (2013) from the University of Guelph, Christine worked as a R&D lab manager for Alpha Agri Products Inc. She has spent the last three years as a private soil health consultant in southern Ontario, dividing her time between contract work with research or grant-driven projects, and soil sampling and analysis.

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Research Lead
Daniel J. Patterson Campus
Scott Golem

Scott Golem is the research lead for the Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre (HESIC). He leads and supports the success of applied research projects mainly for the Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN), a Niagara College-led initiative that brings together research institutions and greenhouse and technology businesses to accelerate the development, commercialization, and adoption of new technologies. Research projects focus on validating novel products and/or technology through testing within greenhouses. Thanks to funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Applied Research and Technology Partnership, Scott will lead cannabis and hemp projects, in addition to GTN projects.

With over 14 years of experience in teaching and research, Scott has a diverse background in plant science, genetics, as well as indoor, outdoor and greenhouse cultivation. Having led roles as a Master Grower and Plant Scientist for major cannabis companies, he has led numerous projects focused on optimizing crop production and breeding/developing new cultivars.

Scott holds a BSc in Forensic Science from Trent University, an MSc in Biotechnology from Brock University, and a Post-graduate Certificate in Commercial Cannabis Production from Niagara College. Currently, Scott shares his expertise as a part-time faculty member at Niagara College, teaching in the Commercial Cannabis Production Program and the Biological Sciences Department at Brock University.

Research Lead
Daniel J. Patterson Campus

Olga Safonova is the Research Laboratory Technologist of the Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre (HESIC). In her role, she manages the daily activities related to on-going trials, assists with experimental design, and collects data. She also looks after the cannabis growing facilities and greenhouse horticulture laboratory.

For the past 13 years, Olga has been working in horticulture in various roles from Propagation Technician, Lead Grower to Greenhouse Manager. She has worked with all major types of greenhouse crops. She studied Biology and Winemaking and Viticulture at Brock University. She completed her Honours BSc in the Brock Biotechnology lab in 2017.

Olga is proficient in conducting greenhouse trials, as well as in Integrated Pest Management (IPM), greenhouse irrigation, climate control, and lighting systems. Her most recent role at Safari Flower Co. gave her extensive experience in all aspects of cannabis growing from cloning to harvest processing and quality control.

Research Lab Technologist
Daniel J. Patterson Campus
Alberto Hardt

Alberto Hardt is a Research Associate focusing on greenhouse projects at the Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre (HESIC). He supports with planning of new projects for the team while also assisting day-to-day activities required for trials. This includes general crop maintenance, fertigation, data gathering, and various plant-related tasks such as propagation, cultivation, and harvesting.

Alberto studied at Niagara College, completing the Horticultural Technician program, and graduating with honors in the President’s Honor Roll in April 2023. Having lived in Canada since 2021, he previously studied agriculture in Brazil in the early 2000s and holds a BA in social communication.

With over 15 years of experience in the banking industry, Alberto made a life-changing decision during the COVID-19 pandemic to transition his career towards plant production. Joining HESIC has allowed him to delve into the research field, expanding his knowledge and skills while actively building his network within the greenhouse and horticulture industry partners in southern Ontario.

Research Associate
Daniel J. Patterson Campus
Gaby Torrens

Gabriela Torrens is a Research Associate who focuses on cannabis projects for the Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre (HESIC). She is responsible for supporting cannabis research projects at the Cannabis Indoor Cultivation Research Labs (Cannabunker) and developing research trials. She also assists with HESIC projects carried out in the Niagara College Teaching Greenhouse. Gabriela first joined HESIC as a student in the role of Research Assistant.

Gabriela has a diverse background working with scientific research, development, and validation of innovative technologies. Gabriela has a Bachelor of Biology and a Master’s of Entomology from Federal University of Parana in Brazil. She specialized in insect pest management with a focus on chemical ecology. Later, Gabriela moved to Ecuador where she gained valuable experience at the National Institute of Agriculture Research where she played a crucial role in selecting new varieties of wheat and barley, ultimately releasing a new beer barley to support local breweries in utilizing local supplies. She studied most recently at Niagara College graduating from the Greenhouse Technician program in June 2023.

Research Associate
Daniel J. Patterson Campus

Bill MacDonald has extensive expertise in greenhouse production, plant agriculture, soil science, LED lighting, and nutrient-use efficiency. As well as a teaching faculty member and coordinator, Bill co-designed and developed the current Commercial Cannabis Production Ontario College Graduate Certificate program curriculum. He has experience supporting licensed cannabis producers in their production systems, advising on many aspects of their production and he serves on the Cannabis Jobs Steering Committee with the Niagara Workforce Planning Board.

With a strong background in the applied and research horticultural fields, Bill has managed and owned greenhouse operations in Nova Scotia and Ontario. He began his time at Niagara College in 2007 teaching Plant Science, Soil Science, and Nursery Management courses, as well as conducting ongoing applied research projects with the College’s Research & Innovation division. Bill holds a BSc in Soil Science (1983) and an MSc in Plant Agriculture (2013), both from the University of Guelph.

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Faculty Research Lead
Daniel J. Patterson Campus

Derek Schulze has been a faculty member at Niagara College since 2016 for the School of Environment and Horticulture Studies, and the Coordinator for the Greenhouse Technician program. Prior to this, he spent 15 years in industry as a commercial greenhouse owner/operator (TJ Greenhouses Inc.). Derek received his MSc in plant biotechnology and biophysics from the University of Guelph (1996) and a BSc (Hon) from the University of Waterloo (1994). In the years between graduation and his time in industry, Derek worked as a Research Associate at Queen’s University in the Cancer Research Institute (CRI). While there, he contributed to grant applications, designing experimental protocols and performing research at both whole animal and cellular levels.

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Faculty Research Lead
Daniel J. Patterson Campus

Sebastien Jacob is a professor in the Horticulture, Greenhouse and Commercial Cannabis programs at Niagara College’s School of Environment and Horticulture Studies. He joined the College in August 2018 after 15 years of practical experience in the greenhouse horticulture industry, which included advising, training and teaching growers and their staff – throughout North, Central and South America – the art of implementing and maintaining a successful Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.

He also served as Research Assistant for both Laval University and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada and as an IPM Specialist and R&D Manager for a biological control company. Sebastien holds an MSc in Entomology (Biocontrol Science) from the University of Montreal (2004) and a BSc in Biology from University of Quebec in Trois-Rivieres (1998). 

Faculty Research Lead
Daniel J. Patterson Campus
Stanley Leggett, Horticulture Technician

Stanley Leggett is a Horticulture Technician for the School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies (SEHS) who also works with the Horticultural and Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre (HESIC). He assists in maintaining the cannabis facilities and caring for the cannabis plants, ensuring optimal growth in the CannaBunker and the CannaResearchBunker. Stanley also conducts and assists with research-based projects on cannabis and has become part-time faculty with SEHS as a Lab Instructor for the Commercial Cannabis Program. 

Stanley graduated from the inaugural 2018 class of Niagara College’s Commercial Cannabis Production program.  He worked in the cannabis industry in roles such as Quality Assurance Technician, Irrigation Specialist, and Propagation Technician. He also holds an Honours Bachelor of Geography and a Bachelor of Education, both from Brock University. 

Horticulture Technician
Daniel J. Patterson Campus

Laurie Zuber is the Horticulture Technologist with the Niagara College (NC) School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies and part-time faculty with the Commercial Cannabis Production program. She oversees the daily operations of their Health Canada licensed cannabis cultivation facility and helps train the next generation of cannabis industry employees and entrepreneurs by developing and delivering labs and in class instruction. Laurie also works with the Horticultural and Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre (HESIC) and academic teams to design and set up various trials and projects including setting up irrigation, lighting, and grow room environmental systems. She supports research trials with data collection, pest and disease management, record keeping and subject matter expertise.  

Laurie seeks creative and innovative ways to nurture industry relationships to further the educational experience for the students. She represents the program at industry trade events and conferences, where she has participated on panels, advisory boards and connected with other cannabis professionals.  Laurie works at maintaining an active presence to connect current students, graduates and supporters with the exciting and interesting work of legal cannabis production in an academic setting. 

Laurie has 15 years’ experience managing plant production and operations at two large wholesale nurseries in southern Ontario and is a graduate of the inaugural 2018 class of the Commercial Cannabis Production program, graduating on the Dean’s List. 

Horticulture Technologist
Daniel J. Patterson Campus