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WVU faculty, staff available for comment on State of the State address, legislative issues

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Various West Virginia University faculty, administrators and staff members will be available to comment on issues addressed by Gov. Jim Justice in his annual State of the State address Wednesday (Jan. 8) and topics related to the 84th legislative session. 

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed, Dr. Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean for health sciences, and Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop plan to attend the address. 

Interviews with Reed can be scheduled through Kimberly Becker, 304.293.9919 or

Contact Tara Scatterday, 304.293.0630 or, to schedule interviews with Marsh. 

Interviews with Alsop can be scheduled through Erin Newmeyer at 304.545.3050.

Javier Reyes is the Milan Puskar dean of the John Chambers College of Business and Economics and vice president for Start-Up West Virginia. He can be reached at

John Deskins is director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research. He can be contacted at 304.293.7876 or

Brian Lego is a research assistant professor and economic forecaster for BBER. He can be reached at 304.293.7829 or

Paul Speaker, adjunct associate professor of economics, is the author of “Uncovering the Hidden Cost of the Opioid Crisis. He can be reached at 304.293.7810 or

Heather Stephens, assistant professor of resource economics and management, can speak to media about the effect of policies across regions, energy, environmental and regional economics. Stephens can be reached at 304.293.5639 or

Donna Peduto is executive director of the Public Education Collaborative, which champions public education from early childhood to post-secondary levels. 

Gay Stewart, the Eberly professor of STEM education, is the director of the Center for Excellence in STEM Education

Peduto and Stewart may be contacted through Katie Farmer, 315.256.8509.

Erin McHenry Sorber is the coordinator of the Higher Education Administration program. Her areas of expertise include teacher strikes and education policy. She can be reached at 304.293.2090 or

Matt Campbell, an assistant professor of secondary mathematics education, is expanding a mathematics education project launched in Pocahontas County to five additional school systems. Campbell can be reached at 304.293.4714 or

Energy, Climate and Environment, Health, Law, Social and Public Policy
Sam Taylor is an assistant director at the WVU Energy Institute. He specializes in technological and economic aspects of advanced energy technologies and complex project and program development and execution. He can be reached at 304.293.6032 or

Hota GangaRao, the Wadsworth Distinguished Professor, can speak to media about design, development, production and implementation of fiber reinforced polymers for high and underground structures and utility poles. He can be reached at 304.293.9986 or

John Hu, Stater Chair in Engineering for Natural Gas Utilization. Hu researches shale gas utilization and biomass conversion. His contact information is 304.293.5067 or

Paul Ziemkiewicz is the director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute and a member of the West Virginia Acid Mine Drainage Task Force, the Eastern Mine Drainage Federal Consortium, the West Virginia Special Reclamation Trust Fund Advisory Council and the Ohio River Basin Water Availability and Management Work Group. He can be reached at 304.293.6958 or

Tim Carr is a Marshall Miller professor of geology and departmental chair. He is currently working on unconventional resources and CO2 storage and utilization in North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia. He can be reached at

Doug Patchen is the director of the Resource Extraction Division in WVU’s National Research Center for Coal and Energy. He specializes in shale gas, Marcellus, Utica, natural gas and petroleum. He can be reached at 304.293.6216 or

Nicholas Zegre is an associate professor of forest hydrology. He specializes in mountain freshwater ecosystems and how they respond to environmental and climate change. He can be reached at 304.293.0049 or

Amy Hessl is a professor of geography. She studies forest dynamics, ecosystem processes, and climate variability and human history in the American West, Mongolia and Southern Australia. She can be reached at or 304.293.8210.

Brenden McNeil is an associate professor of geography. He examines human impacts on the spatial patterns of forest ecosystem services, particularly in the eastern US. He can be reached at 304.293.0384 or

James VanNostrand is a professor of law and the director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development. He specializes in energy and regulated industries, environmental law, emissions trading, administrative law. He can be reached at 304.293.4694 or

Dr. Ali Rezai is the executive chair, vice president of neuroscience and associate dean and the John D. Rockefeller IV tenured professor in neuroscience. Rezai is leading the clinical trial using deep brain stimulation for patients who suffer from treatment-resistant opioid use disorder. 

Dr. Marc Haut is the vice chair and director of Clinical Research and Education at the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute. He is also a professor in the School of Medicine and the WVU Cancer Institute

Media inquiries for both Rezai and Haut can be made through Marisa Sayre, 304.293.8976 or

Dr. James Berry is the interim chair, Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry and vice chair and director of Addiction Services.

Dr. Lisa Costello is assistant professor of pediatric general medicine. She can speak to media concerning the expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program to include maternity services. 

Berry and Costello can be reached through Cassie Thomas, 304.293.3412 or

Dr. Jeffrey Coben is associate vice president for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Public Health. Coben is available to speak to media about the opioid epidemic, and has briefed the Congress on how West Virginia has responded to the crisis. 

Michael McCawley, a clinical associate in professor in the department of occupational and environmental health sciences, can discuss the health effects of mountaintop removal mining, including the relationship of MTR air pollution and the increased rates of chronic disease. 

Coben and McCawley can be reached through Nikky Luna, 304.293.1699 or

Frankie Tack is the addiction studies minor coordinator at WVU . She can speak to media about the effects of opioid addicted parents on public school students and the additional skills and resources classroom teachers need. She can be reached at 304.293.2270 or

Valarie Blake is an associate professor of law. She specializes in the intersections between health care delivery and ethics along with how increasing state and federal regulation of health care financing and delivery will impact chronic disease, health insurance and professionalism in medicine. She can be reached at 304.293.8639 or

Patrick McGinley is a Charles H. Haden II professor of law. He specializes in civil procedure, criminal, environmental, administrative, land use and natural resources, constitutional law and environmental justice. He can be reached at 304.293.6823 or

Chris Plein is a professor of public administration. He specializes in public policy formation and implementation, the effects of welfare reform and state health policy. He can be reached at 304.293.7974 or

Cris Mayo is the director of the LGBTQ+ Center at WVU and is a professor of women’s and gender studies. Mayo has published several books, including “Gay Straight Alliances and Associations Among Youth in Schools.”

Mayo can be contacted through Katie Farmer, 315.256.8509.

John Zaniewski is an asphalt technology professor at WVU. He researches pavement management and highway construction. He can be reached at 304.293.9955 or

W. P. Chedester, chief and director of the University Police and Office of Emergency Management, is available to speak about issues of preparedness, campus safety and emergency communication. He can be reached at

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