Serendipity & the Science Director: Amber Wise’s Avitas Journey

At Avitas, we think it’s incredibly important that people understand the chemistry behind the cannabis. That’s why we’re transparent about our methods and are committed to integrity in everything we do from testing for pesticides to our full-spectrum extraction process in our oils. That’s why we try to go above and beyond in our scientific approach to cannabis, which brings us to our talented Science Director, Dr. Amber Wise.

An Unlikely Journey

A few years ago, if you’d told Amber she’d be the Science Director for one of the leading cannabis producer/processors in the Pacific Northwest, she wouldn’t have believed you, but now she laughs, “Nineteen-year-old Amber is really excited about what’s happening right now!” A little over a year ago, Amber, burnt out on academia and looking for a change, met our co-founder, Adam, at the Cannabis Science Conference in Portland. Adam was immediately impressed by Amber saying, “We’d been on the hunt for a Science Director for a while, and I was thrilled to run into Amber at the conference. I thought she’d be a great fit for Avitas.”

Amber brings a vast field of knowledge to our team. She has her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. She finished off her studies with postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco studying chemical exposure risk and toxicology and a stint as a science policy research intern chemical exposure, risk, and toxicology with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Her command of chemistry is far-reaching and much-needed in our growing industry.

Cannabis + Chemistry = The Perfect Match

There are quite a few Ph.D.s in analytical labs, but it’s relatively unique to have a Ph.D. in this position at a producer/processor. Amber believes that as the industry continues to grow, having Ph.D.s in this area will become an industry standard. She explains, “There’s a real need for scientists–and good ones–in this industry. There’s so much basic research that needs to be done on everything from extractions to profiles of strains, and genetics.”

She continues, “Most typical commodities have had tons and tons of scientific research done on its different properties, but cannabis is lagging way behind for a variety of different reasons.” She reveals that this has to do with the fact that cannabis research is still illegal at the Federal level and that though there are interesting studies ongoing abroad, most of the research that’s being done is within private industry, so very few people are particularly interested in sharing information because it’s proprietary. The secretive nature of cannabis research needs to change. Some of Amber’s focus is on networking. Reaching out both on a peer level, through educational seminars for budtenders, and giving talks at cannatech meetups. And, to be honest, it’s a lot of hard work.

Work Hard, Play Hard, Work Harder

That’s something nineteen-year-old Amber might not have counted on, but Dr. Amber Wise takes the challenge on with a smile. “There’s a lot of misconceptions from outsiders about the cannabis industry. We start early, have a very strict work schedule, punch in punch out. It’s not like we don’t have a good time. It’s just very professional.”

The cannabis industry still has a long way to go in terms of fully understanding the wonders of the cannabis plant. A great deal of research is still needed to help guide processes and procedures across the board, but we’re sure glad to have Amber onboard to help lead the way in chemistry as we continue on our journey.

If you ever have a science-related question about our process or products, Amber is happy to answer them–just send her an email!

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