Meet the Chemical Hygiene Officers
Chemical Hygiene Officer, Department of Biology
Michael McKinstry holds a B.S. in Microbiology from the Pennsylvania State University and has been an employee at WVU since 2009. Mike is currently an Academic Laboratory Manager in the Department of Biology. Prior to coming to WVU, Mike worked as a Research Associate in a molecular biology lab at the Biological Defense Research Directorate of the Naval Medical Research Center in Rockville, MD and also at the National Institutes of Health.
An area of professional interest for Mike is bacteriophage biology and bacteriophage use in biotechnology. He has published, presented work at national meetings, and is listed on several patents involving the use of bacteriophages in bacterial detection.
In his spare time Mike enjoys fly-fishing and spending time outdoors with his wife and two children.
Greg PuskarChemical Hygiene Officer, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Greg Puskar is an Academic Laboratory Manager in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and has been employed at WVU since 1979. Greg has served as past chair of the department safety committee. The department safety committee has received several recognition awards and Greg received the 1992 University Safety Award. He has served on various university safety and GTA committees. Greg has authored two Physics laboratory safety manuals and reviewed several introductory Physics textbooks with regard to safety issues. Greg is deeply involved with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), having served on or chaired several area and constitutional committees, presented invited and contributed papers, organized multiple sessions and workshops at national meetings, served four years on the Editorial Board of the Physics Teacher journal, and continues to review papers for the journal. He was a member of the Executive Board from 2011 – 2015, received a Distinguished Service Award in 2006, and is a Fellow of the Association. He has also organized and hosted two AAPT Appalachian Section Meetings at WVU, serves as Section Representative to the national organization, and is a member of the AAPT Council. Greg also served four years on the board of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, served on and chaired proposal review panels at the National Science Foundation in the Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S-STEM) and Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) programs, and served as a judge at two Intel Science Fairs.
Casper VenterChemical Hygiene Officer, Department of Forensic & Investigative Science
Casper Venter is currently the Chemical Hygiene Officer for the Department of Forensic and Investigative Science at WVU. He also serves as the director of the forensic facilities, which include Oglebay Hall and the crime scene complex. Casper serves as a non-tenured faculty member in the department and teaches forensic courses to undergraduate and graduate students. Casper presents workshops on clandestine laboratory investigation for law enforcement and chemists.
Before joining West Virginia University, Casper worked for 22 years in a forensic science laboratory in South Africa as a forensic drug chemist. He obtained his first degree in 1992 in analytical chemistry, two graduate degrees in both chemistry and laboratory management (cum laude) during 1994 and 2002, respectively, and an MSc Biochemistry (cum laude) during 2010. He joined the South African Police Service in 1988, went through internal basic and advance police training and was then assigned to the forensic science laboratory. During his 22 years in the forensic laboratory Casper completed various training programs related to instrumentation used in the chemistry department, crime scene investigation, clandestine laboratory investigation, photography, forensic disciplines in forensic sciences, hazardous material first response, and advance risk assessment. He examined more than 5,000 drug- related cases, investigated clandestine laboratories for 13 years and testified as an expert witness for 17 years. He was a member of clandestine laboratory investigation for chemists (CLIC) from 1997 until 2010 and attended three of their international technical training seminars.
Ajaya Sankara WarrierChemical Hygiene Officer, Department of Geology and Geography
Dr. Ajaya Sankara Warrier completed his M.S. in analytical chemistry from the University of Kerala, India and his Ph. D. in organic chemistry from the National Institute of Interdisciplinary Science and Technology in India. He subsequently worked as a faculty member in chemistry, as a scientist in a pharmaceutical R&D lab, and as a visiting research scientist at various institutions in India, Japan, and the United States. Dr. Warrier was professionally trained in a wide range of chemistry, including synthetic chemistry, analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, and medicinal chemistry. He was affiliated with the Department of Chemistry, the School of Pharmacy, and the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Wyoming for nine years before entering his current position as a Laboratory Manager in the Department of Geology at WVU. Ajaya is responsible for maintaining the analytical instrumentation in the Stable Isotope Lab. He is experienced in setting up research labs and maintaining the safety protocols in the lab. Ajaya has been the Chemical Hygiene Officer within the Department of Geology and Geography since 2013. “Science is my passion and listening to music is my hobby”, says Ajaya.
Barbara L. FosterChemical Hygiene Officer, C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry
Barbara L. Foster has been a certified Chemical Hygiene Officer through the National Registry of Certified Chemists since 2000 and is a member of the American Chemical Society (ACS). She was the recipient of the ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety (DCHAS) Tillmanns-Skolnick Award in 2006 in recognition of her service to the division. She served as chair of DCHAS in 2007 and currently serves as a reviewer for the ACS Journal of Chemical Education. Ms. Foster is a member of the College Safety, Health, and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) and an elected member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 45 Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals technical committee.
Ms. Foster is the author of over 20 papers and instructional publications, including Laboratory Safety and Management: A Handbook for Teaching Assistants. She has presented over 60 talks on various aspects of chemical safety at professional meetings, workshops, academic institutions, and government facilities across the nation. Ms. Foster served as co-chair of the committee that was formed by the National Academy of Sciences Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology to revise the seminal safety reference book, Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards (2011).