Congratulations to Sean Kim on a Successful Thesis Defense!


Congratulations to Sean Kim who successfully defended his thesis, entitled “Genetic and Environmental Factors Shaping Cannabis Phenotypes: A Study on Temperature Effects and Genetic Regulation of Anthocyanin Accumulation in Cannabis sativa.

Prior to his time in the Ellison Lab, Sean graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a B.S. in Biology. Sean has spent a little over 3 years in the Ellison lab working on research aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the environmental and genetic factors contributing to anthocyanin accumulation in Cannabis sativa. Driven by the consumer market implications for breeding and the production of cannabis–based products, the research demonstrates the potential of a visual scoring protocol for efficiently phenotyping and estimating anthocyanin levels in C. sativa, and identifies optimal temperature ranges for enhancing anthocyanin production. Additionally, the discovery of tissue-specific QTLs provides a valuable resource for targeted breeding and advancing our understanding of the genetic inheritance of anthocyanin accumulation in this species.


Key findings from Sean’s work can be illustrated via the figure to the right, illustrating the impact and interaction of various traits in response to changes in temperature. In the figure, normalized trait values for total dry weight (g) (TDW) (Green), total CBD (%) (TCBD) (Orange), and total monomeric anthocyanins (mg/L) (TMA) (Purple) for C. sativa plants grown in various temperature treatments are shown. The trendlines represent the overall modeled relationship between temperature and TDW, TCBD, and TMA. In short, changes in temperature have an effect on yield (TDW and TCBD) and quality (TCBD and TMA) indicators and should be factored into cultivator decision making.  


Sean is an aspiring cannabis breeder with hopes to create natural medicine for people around the world. Sean also plans on starting a small cannabis operation here in Wisconsin with hopes to breed new varieties and produce high quality cannabis products.

Sean will be sticking around for a TE position through the summer as a key contributor the lab’s many research projects!


Moving forward, Sean can be contacted at 608-698-4105 or

Thank you so much, Sean!