Delaware State University Receives Nearly $600,000 to Study Hemp

The National Science Foundation grant will fund three-year undergraduate studies into hemp extraction, CBD’s effects on cancer cells and more.

September 14, 2020

Delaware State University has received a three-year $591,628 National Science Foundation grant to help fund multiple facets of undergraduate hemp research.

The interdisciplinary project will play into current ongoing hemp research at the university. It will involve students taking courses in:

  • Chemistry, who will investigate extraction techniques that are most applicable to the desired end use of hemp products and biofuel feedstock.

  • Biological sciences, who will investigate the conditions under which cannabidiol (CBD) induces cell death versus when cells are protected against cell-damaging stressors as part of cancer research.

  • Food sciences, who will investigate different methods of extraction of food protein from hempseed protein powder and hempseed oil and test the methods’ effectiveness.

  • Animal sciences, who will investigate the effects of hemp extract on parasitic larvae in light of the increased drug resistance of parasites.

The project is meant to not only advance hemp research, but also measure how the hands-on studies improve student learning. While the students are immersed in the research, faculty investigators will focus on how the hands-on opportunities affect academic achievement, retention, scientific literacy and reasoning skills, among other factors.

“Research has shown that students who engage in research benefit from a wide range of outcomes, including more confidence in their abilities to do science, a greater connection with the scientific community, and increased persistence in science,” said Dr. Kimberly Milligan, visiting assistant professor of chemistry and principal investigator of the grant, in a news release. “Students have a greater connection to their discoveries and learning when they can visualize the link between what they are learning in lab and real-world applications.”

Once hemp became federally legal in 2018, the state enlisted Delaware State University, a historically Black college, to be the lead research entity in its hemp research pilot project. The university is in its second year of the project, which involves Delaware farmers growing the crop and scientists with the university studying it for yield information and chemical composition. 

Delaware State University has partnered with Kentucky State University–another historically Black university–on the hemp research project.

In addition to studying the hemp harvests of Delaware farmers, the university researchers are also growing their own hemp crops, according to the news release.