Recent graduate Kennedy Lewis (BSc ’21) is spending her summer examining the potential of cannabidiol (CBD) to improve stroke outcomes. Working with graduate student Claire Niehaus (BSc ’19) in Dr. Robbin Gibb’s lab, Kennedy’s research utilizes a multilayered analysis to investigate the molecular, neuroanatomical, and behavioural effects of several strains of cannabis with high levels of CBD in healthy, functioning rodent systems. This analysis is a precursor to examining the health applications of CBD in rodent models of disease.

Kennedy’s research this summer is supported with an Alberta Innovates Summer Research Studentship. She is responsible for conducting and scoring behaviour tests in rodents, and properly dosing them with CBD for study. Once her experimentation is completed, she will be doing neuroanatomical analyses on the rodents.

Kennedy has been a part of Dr. Gibb’s lab for three years and says she enjoys her time there.

From independent studies to my honours thesis, I learned so much about what we were researching as well as the amount of work that goes into each project. I have previously focused on nicotine and alcohol studies that involve preconception maternal/paternal consumption, so changing gears a little while staying in the same nurturing lab has been such a treat.

Kennedy adds that her research experience has been valuable to her education, noting that she has been able to improve upon her existing skill set, and hone her scientific and communication skills.

“It has also increased my respect for the research community, which I already had an immense amount of; it is astounding how much work that goes into each project, and how many people are a part of each project.”

When asked if she has any advice to give other students who are interested in conducting research, Kennedy notes that there is no such thing as a bad question.

Ask friends, fellow students, family, and professors about their experiences and/or opportunities that they know of. Especially don't be afraid to approach professors who are conducting research that interests you. It can seem intimidating to ask a well-established researcher if you can assist in their lab, but you must remember that they have been in your shoes before!

Having completed her degree, Kennedy says she plans to continue her education in science, applying what she is learning this summer to her future career.

“I've just graduated with a double major in neuroscience & psychology, and I'm ready (and excited) for wherever my next chapter takes me!”