Meet Samantha Csapilla: Lab Supervisor
This month as part of our Staff Profile Series, we sat down with Samantha to discuss her career in science and cannabis. Samantha is a Milford, Connecticut native who transplanted herself into Vermont in 2008 to attend the University of Vermont and has been living here officially for a decade! She studied chemistry, math and art at UVM and completed her degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in ecological design, where she learned how to design buildings, landscapes and communities to simultaneously benefit people and the environment with an emphasis on how to use plants, natural systems and living technologies to work for us and be an inspiration for design.
Post-UVM, Samantha researched how to maximize the performance of man-made ecosystems of microbes in systems called anaerobic digesters that convert organic waste streams into biogas energy and other value-added resources. For the last 3+ years, Samantha has turned her attention to the applications and benefits of the remarkable cannabis plant and has focused on providing quality lab testing for CVD/SVW/CNR.
Her last name is Hungarian and is pronounced “Cha-peel-lah”.
What drew you to work in the cannabis industry?
I was drawn into the industry by luckily being referred to CVD during its search for a HPLC lab tech without even knowing it was a cannabis lab (fun fact)! I was sold by having an absolute fascination with what plants and their properties are capable of and how to apply them as solutions to health and environmental problems — and how cannabis in particular is such an extraordinary plant with so many diverse benefits. I, of course, was also so excited to be a part of a new, once-taboo industry and emerging laboratory testing field.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
The most interesting part of my job is the discovery of new methods, compounds, effects, products and applications and seeing where our path in the industry leads us, but also simply getting the opportunity to check out all of the awesome cannabis and hemp products that come my way.
Do you have a favorite piece of equipment?
I have a hard time picking favorites, so I will pick three:
1 Handheld sonicator – essentially a stainless steel rod that helps break up samples and extract compounds with ultrasonic sound waves!
2 Moisture analyzer – this instrument is fun because you get to heat up samples and smell their wonderful, unique aromas while anyone walking by always pops in to check what I am up to, convinced that I am just baking out the lab
3 UHPLC – (Ultra High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph) these instruments and methods are just amazing that through chemical interactions they can separate all of the compounds out of a sample and measure how much of each is present.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is the absence of industry-wide standards of testing, having to blaze new trails for methods of testing, and go through all of the trials and errors of a new industry where information is not easily shared. That being said, I value the opportunity and experience and take on the challenge!
What are the most important things about cannabis lab test results that patients should know?
Patients should know that all labs have different, sometimes unique, methods and instruments for testing which can give varying results. If you send the same sample to three different labs, you will likely get three different results. That being said, there are many means to the end and many labs are doing good work with results all being within an acceptable window or range of each other. As long as their methods are validated, then you can feel confident in their results. Never hesitate to ask questions!