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Interview with Britni Gonzales, Microbiologist for Digipath Labs

Interview with Britni Gonzales, Microbiologist for Digipath Labs

In our continuing series to better understand the leadership team at Digipath Labs, I had the chance to ask Britni Gonzales some questions. She is the lead technician and a microbiologist for the Las Vegas cannabis lab testing company. Her close scrutiny of the myriad cannabis samples that come through Digipath Labs has provided her with some insights into the marijuana plant few people have had the opportunity to see.

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As a microbiologist and the lead technician at Digipath, what are your daily duties like?

My main  daily duties consist of properly entering all samples, extracting DNA from the samples, running qPCR,  and analyzing the data. I also help with the preparation of 3m plating which is another method we use to test the samples. Other duties include Research and Development and Method Development projects.

How long have you been with Digipath Labs?

A year and a half.

Can you expand on what qPCR is and what role it plays in cannabis lab testing?

qPCR is quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction, which means  it monitors the amplification of a targeted DNA molecule during the PCR. Basically, I am breaking down all the cells in the sample we receive and collecting all DNA present. I then use qPCR to look at the DNA targeted and that’s how we are able to tell if it has been contaminated with E.coli, Salmonella or Aspergillus species.
I would say this method is important because it is able to target specifically what species we are looking for.

What sort of microbes and other things do you find on cannabis that shouldn’t be there?

Everything we test for we have seen on the samples, except for Salmonella. In an ideal world we
wouldn’t see any of these species on the plants because they can potentially be harmful to humans.

Who are the most vulnerable to these toxins?

I would say the most vulnerable are people who have weakened immune systems.

What is the strangest thing you have found on a cannabis sample?

E.coli on a concentrate.
id=”rewarding”The most rewarding part of working at Digipath Labs is the learning experience. I am able to witness first hand some of the research and data that is done on cannabis. I work with some really smart and dedicated people who are always striving to make testing on cannabis better for both the seller and consumer.

In your video interview you mention being a married mother of three. Do you feel like everyone is pretty accepting of your career in cannabis? Does the stigma ever create problems?

The people that I have told about my career have no problem with what I do, at least not to my knowledge. But, of course when it’s career day at school or I’m at the science fair with my kids I tend to not mention what I do. I think people hear cannabis and they automatically think drugs. So, yes, I think the stigma does create problems.

What would you like to see change in the Las Vegas area in general having to do with cannabis?

I would really like to see more test and restrictions for medical marijuana growers. I’m also ready to see these lounges I keep hearing about. I think if we already legalized marijuana we should start acting like it. People go to bars to drink and you can smoke a cigarette practically anywhere, so why not cannabis.

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