General Session Instructors

Robert P. Ellis – Course Director
Dr. Robert Ellis graduated from the University of Wyoming with a BS in Microbiology. Bob’s education continued with the MS and PhD degrees earned at Purdue University. He is currently the Director of Biosafety at Colorado State University (CSU). Bob joined the faculty at CSU in January 1978, and is Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology. Bob was appointed to the CSU Biosafety Committee in 1978, and was Biosafety Officer 1986-1989, and 1997 to present. Dr. Ellis was awarded the Russian Academy of Agricultural Science, Division of Veterinary Medicine, Gold Medal of Achievement in the field of Veterinary Science, December 2008.

Bob is a Certified Biological Safety Professional (CBSP) and a Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Microbiologists (ACVM Honorary). He was elected to the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) Council in October, 2004, and was elected President-Elect of ABSA for 2008. He served as the ABSA President in 2009. Bob is on the Editorial Board for Applied Biosafety. Bob has taught many pre-conference and summer session courses for ABSA, the Eagleson Institute, the ABSA/Emory Leadership Institute, and the ABSA/Behavioral Based Improvement Solutions Leadership Summit. Bob has served on the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program (NBBTP) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, and chaired the NBBTP Scientific Advisory Board 2009-2011. In addition to his CSU and ABSA activities, he has been the Executive Director of the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases (CRWAD) 1987-2014, and was the Founding Editor-in-Chief of Animal Health Research Reviews (AHRR). Bob serves on the Biosafety Committees for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the National Wildlife Research Center. Bob has extensive experience in the design, construction, and operation of BSL–2 and BSL–3 facilities, and is recognized nationally and internationally for his knowledge and practical application of Biosafety practices and principles. Bob received the 2015 Everett Hanel, Jr. Presidential Award. The Everett Hanel, Jr. Presidential Award is given to a current ABSA (American Biological Safety Association) member for outstanding contributions to the American Biological Safety Association by promoting the field of biological safety and fostering, by example, the high professional standards of the Association’s membership.

In 2004, Bob founded and continues to direct the Biosafety and Biosecurity Training Course (BBTC) in Fort Collins, CO, USA. The BBTC is held each July and includes General, Animal, and Plant biosafety and biosecurity training sessions. Eighteen topic experts present and instruct the General, Animal, and Plant Sessions. For 2018 the BBTC transitioned to the Biosafety and Biosecurity Training Course-Global (BBTC-Global), a remote-based (on-line) interactive course presented through a Learning Management System. 2019 brought the Biosafety and Biosafety Training Course back to Fort Collins, CO, to be held on-site.


Nicholas Bergren
Dr. Nicholas Bergren graduated from LeTourneau University, Longview, Texas, with a BS in Biology in 2010. Nicholas continued his education, earning his PhD, at the University of Texas Medical Branch under the mentorship of Dr. Scott Weaver. During his time at UTMB, Nicholas gained experience working with arthropods and vertebrate animals in a BSL3 setting. Nicholas joined the Colorado State University Arthropod-Borne Infectious Disease Lab as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Rebekah Kading’s lab in August 2016 where he continues his research studying arthropod-virus relationships.


Michael Pentella
Mike Pentella, PhD, D(ABMM), is a clinical professor of epidemiology in the University of Iowa College of Public Health and is the director in the State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL).

Previously, he was interim director of the State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL), and the director of the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Massachusetts and before that an associate director for the disease control division at SHL, where he was responsible for infectious disease testing and newborn and maternal screening and was actively involved with bioterrorism preparedness, antimicrobial resistance and pandemic influenza planning.

In 2016, Pentella became the seventh recipient of SHL’s William J. Hausler Career Achievement Award, which recognizes a lifetime of achievement and professional activities that extend beyond the laboratory and greatly impact the field of public health.

Pentella chairs the Association of Public Health Laboratories’ Biosafety and Biosecurity Committee as part of his lifelong interest in laboratory biosafety issues. In 2017, he received APHL’s Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award. In 2016, he was given an Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of South Florida, College of Public Health.


Sean Kaufman
Mr. Sean Kaufman is the CEO and Founding Partner of Behavioral-Based Improvement Solutions – ‎Behavioral-Based Improvement Solutions, LLC. Sean has several years of experience in the fields of organizational development, behavioral management and modification, crisis and risk communication and emergency preparedness. Currently he serves on the Board of Commissioners at the National Center for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC), is a Trustee for Professional Development for the Society of Public Health Education (SOPHE), and the past President of the Georgia Federation for Professional Health Educators (GFPHE). He continues contribute to corporate publications and has facilitated several risk and crisis his communication seminars for organizations and Fortune 500 companies.

A graduate of San Diego State University, Sean began his career with the San Diego State Student Health Services working as an STD, HIV and pregnancy counselor. He started his work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1999 and continued to work in the field of HIV/AIDS and underserved populations within the United States. In 2000, Sean began his work with waterborne diseases and developed the Healthy Swimming program while at the Division of Parasitic Diseases in the National Center for Infectious Diseases at CDC. During his tenure at CDC, he responded and assisted the Office of Communication during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; led a team of health education and communication specialists to Trenton New Jersey to work with postal employees who were exposed to anthrax, and responded directly with businesses and employees at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) who were affected by SARS. Sean’s experience working in the Office of Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response at CDC, the Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research at Emory University, and within the Fortune 500 business sector provides him with a diverse and well-rounded perspective for preparedness efforts. At Emory University, Sean launched and led the Science and Safety and Onsite Behavioral-Based Biosafety Training Programs which has changed the way containment training is done worldwide. In 2014, Sean prepared the clinical staff at Emory Healthcare to safely respond to the first two cases of Ebola in the United States, worked in Nigeria and Liberia preparing clinical staff to respond to Ebola, and returned to assist in the preparedness of US clinical teams for the treatment of dangerous infectious diseases.

Sean is the program facilitator for the Biosafety and Biosecurity Training Course-Global (BBTC-Global), a remote-based interactive course. The on-line interactive course will be presented through a Learning Management System. Eighteen topic experts present and instruct the General, Animal, and Plant Sessions in weekly modules during June, July, and August.


Joseph P. Kozlovac
Mr. Joe Kozlovac (M.S., RBP, CBSP, SM-NRM) is a Registered Biosafety Professional (RBP) and a Certified Biological Safety Professional (CBSP) through the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA). Joe is also certified as a Specialist Microbiologist in Biological Safety Microbiology through the National Registry of Microbiologists, American College of Microbiology, ASM. Joe has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh in Johnstown, PA and a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. He has authored several journal articles and textbook chapters on the subjects of Biological Toxins; Bloodborne Pathogens; Indoor Air Management; ABSL–3 Agriculture, Agricultural Risk Assessment and Decontamination. Joe has also participated in the development of a new appendix on ABSL–3 Agriculture which appears in the CDC/NIH BMBL 5th edition.

Joe serves on the editorial review board of the peer reviewed journal Applied Biosafety and has also served as an external reviewer for the biosafety chapter in the USAMRIID Textbook of Military Medicine. Joe is currently employed at the USDA ARS where he is responsible for developing biosafety policy for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and to assist ARS locations in implementing these policies, and other biosafety guidelines and regulations. Joe’s program is responsible for the development of guidance for the design and construction of containment facilities. Joe has the responsibility for approving all biosafety related design features for ARS design projects.

Joe is a member and served on the Council of the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) and is also a member and Past-President of the Chesapeake Area Biological Safety Association (ChABSA). Joe is also a member of the International Veterinary Biosafety Working Group. His professional services have included providing biosafety training to >850 Pakistani Scientists as part of an effort by the State Department’s Biosecurity Engagement Program, serving as USDA representative for the NIH RAC Biosafety Working Group, served as a peer reviewer on the design of USAMRIID’s new research facility, provided BSL–3 Operations Training to individuals in the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) and providing independent assessments of U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) BSL–4 and BSL–3 Laboratories as an external participant in USAMRIID’s Safety Inspection Program. He has also served as a consultant to the U.S. State Department on the Technical Review Committee for the decontamination of an anthrax contaminated mailbag facility in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


Patty Olinger
Ms. Patricia Olinger, a Registered Biosafety Professional (RBP), is the Assistant Vice-President, Office of Research Administration; and the Director of the Environmental, Health and Safety Office (EHSO) for Emory University. EHSO has University-wide responsibility for developing, implementing and maintaining EHS programs to control occupational exposures and to oversee the implementation and compliance with the mandated federal/state laws, regulations, and guidelines. Ms. Olinger serves as the Director for Global Programs for the Elizabeth R. Griffin Research Foundation and is the current President for the Campus Safety Environmental Management Association.

Previously, Ms. Olinger spent 21 years in the Pharmaceutical Industry, has served on the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Scientific Advisory Board for the National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program (NBBTP). Ms. Olinger was a council member for the American Biological Safety Association, and the ABSA representative and steering team member for the CEN Workshop Agreements relating to Biorisk Management Systems: 15793:2011 and 16393:2012.

Jerry Tews
Mr. Tews graduated from the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse, with a BS in Microbiology. He started working at Colorado State University (CSU) as an infectious disease microbiologist and later moved into the position of Biosafety and Facilities Operations Manager for the Infectious Disease Research Center (IDRC), Colorado State University (2000-2011). In addition to managing building safety, security, information technology (IT) and day–to–day building operations, he was involved with the design, construction and commissioning of five BSL–3 facilities on the CSU campus.

Mr. Tews joined Affiliated Engineers, Inc. (AEI) in 2011 as a member of its Commissioning practice, focused on the design review, inspection and/or verification of biocontainment and clean room facilities on campuses of higher education, private research, and governmental research. His responsibilities also encompassed the development of program documentation (Standard Operating Procedures, Occupational Health/Safety/Security plans, etc.) for principal investigators and facilities maintenance staff associated with these facility types, as well as the training of these user groups. Mr. Tews currently is a building design, commissioning, maintenance and operations consultant.


James M. (Jim) Welch
Mr. Jim Welch serves as the Executive Director of the Elizabeth R. Griffin Foundation, a non-profit foundation in the United States that collaborates globally with public and private organizations and institutions in promoting effective biosafety training, occupational health awareness, and advocacy of responsible research.

Educated at East Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee, Jim has served on the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program (NBBTP) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD. He serves on the board of directors of the International Centre for Infectious Diseases in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

A retired educator, Jim has worked with various entities in organizational assessment, creating and implementing action strategies, personnel recruitment, leadership development, government relations, and human resource programs. A non-scientist, he travels the world working on initiatives in safe research and giving presentations that advocate safe and secure science and the strengthening of research capacity to improve public and animal health.