Our Faculty

Emily Barrett, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute

Division of Environmental and Population Health Biosciences

Rutgers University

Room 326 

170 Frelinghuysen Rd Piscataway New Jersey 08854

Work Phone: 848-445-0197 (office) 


Dr. Barrett is an Associate Professor in the Rutgers University School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology. She received an A.B. in Biology and English from Amherst College and a Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California-Los Angeles. Before coming to Rutgers, she was on the faculty at the University of Rochester, where she remains an Adjunct Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Public Health Sciences

Research Areas

Dr. Barrett studies the early origins of health and disease, or how exposures early in life shape our subsequent health and developmental trajectories.  Because gestation is a particularly sensitive period when body systems are first forming, insults or exposures during this period may have profound downstream effects. Much of Dr. Barrett’s research focuses on prenatal exposure to endocrine disruptors, agents which interfere with the normal activity of hormones in the body. Phthalates are a class of endocrine disrupting chemicals that are found widely in food and consumer products. Nearly 100% of Americans have measurable levels of phthalate metabolites in their bodies, yet our current understanding of how these chemicals affect our bodies is limited. In The Infant Development and the Environment Study (TIDES), Dr. Barrett and colleagues are studying how prenatal exposure to these chemicals impacts reproductive and neuro-development, and whether the effects may differ in boys and girls.

Other exposures, such as psychosocial stress, disrupt early development as well. Numerous studies have examined how stress during pregnancy may alter cortisol activity and “program” neurodevelopmental, metabolic, and immune outcomes. Much less is known about the extent to which prenatal stress (and related constructs, like anxiety) may also act through other pathways and mechanisms to affect the fetus. For example, evidence from animal models and humans suggests that prenatal stress may alter in utero androgen activity, thereby affecting sex-dependent development in the offspring. Dr. Barrett and collaborators are exploring this hypothesis in the Understanding Prenatal Signals and Infant Development (UPSIDE) Study, with an eye towards better understanding the early origins of sex differences. Concurrent work in this cohort will examine how maternal inflammation during pregnancy contributes to infant and child development. One of the major themes of this research is understanding the role of the placenta in communicating messages about stressors from mother to fetus (and vice versa).

In addition to her work on prenatal exposures, Dr. Barrett is also interested in factors that impact fertility in adulthood, particularly in women. She is involved in projects focused on how psychosocial stress and environmental chemical exposures affect reproductive hormone concentrations and pregnancy outcomes. Additional ongoing work examines possible biomarkers of the prenatal hormonal milieu that can be assessed postnatally, and their relationship to measures of adult reproductive health.

Dr. Barrett’s work is funded by the National Institutes of Health (R01HD083369; R01ES016863; UG3OD023349; UG3OD023271; P30ES001247) and the Mae Stone Goode Foundation.

Areas of Study

  • Assessment of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals during pregnancy in relation to reproductive and neurodevelopment in childhood
  • Examination of maternal stress in relation to sex differences in the offspring
  • Investigation of novel biomarkers of the prenatal hormonal milieu in humans
  • Exploration of placental morphology and function in relation to prenatal exposures and postnatal outcomes
  • Identification of factors contributing to reproductive health and ovarian function in fertile and infertile women

Scholarly Activities

  • Editorial Board: Hormones and Behavior, Fertility and Sterility (Top 3 reviewer, 2015-2016)
  • Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Scholar (NIH K12; 2011-2014)
  • Environmental Health News Science Communications Fellow (2009-2010)
  • Community Advisory Board, URMC Environmental Health Sciences Center (2009-2016)
  • Board of Directors, Healthy Baby Network (2015-2016)

Recent Publications

    1. Barrett, ES, Groth, SW, Preston, EV, Kinkade, C, James-Todd, T. Endocrine-Disrupting Chemical Exposures in Pregnancy: a Sensitive Window for Later-Life Cardiometabolic Health in Women. Curr Epidemiol Rep. 2021;8 (3):130-142. doi: 10.1007/s40471-021-00272-7. PubMed PMID:35291208 PubMed Central PMC8920413
    2. Ricke, IJ, Oglesby, A, Lyden, GR, Barrett, ES, Moe, S, Nguyen, RHN. Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors Regarding Chemical Exposure among a Population Sample of Reproductive-Aged Women. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19 (5):. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19053015. PubMed PMID:35270707 PubMed Central PMC8910600
    3. Rudd, KL, Cheng, SS, Cordeiro, A, Coccia, M, Karr, CJ, LeWinn, KZ, Mason, WA, Trasande, L, Nguyen, RHN, Sathyanarayana, S et al.. Associations Between Maternal Stressful Life Events and Perceived Distress during Pregnancy and Child Mental Health at Age 4. Res Child Adolesc Psychopathol. 2022; :. doi: 10.1007/s10802-022-00911-7. PubMed PMID:35258749
    4. Lyden, GR, Vock, DM, Barrett, ES, Sathyanarayana, S, Swan, SH, Nguyen, RH. A permutation-based approach to inference for weighted sum regression with correlated chemical mixtures. Stat Methods Med Res. 2022; :9622802211013578. doi: 10.1177/09622802211013578. PubMed PMID:35128995
    5. Rivera-Núñez, Z, Jimenez, ME, Crabtree, BF, Hill, D, Pellerano, MB, Devance, D, Macenat, M, Lima, D, Gordon, M, Sullivan, B et al.. Experiences of Black and Latinx health care workers in support roles during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative study. PLoS One. 2022;17 (1):e0262606. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0262606. PubMed PMID:35041702 PubMed Central PMC8765643
    6. Barrett, ES, Corsetti, M, Day, D, Thurston, SW, Loftus, CT, Karr, CJ, Kannan, K, LeWinn, KZ, Smith, AK, Smith, R et al.. Prenatal phthalate exposure in relation to placental corticotropin releasing hormone (pCRH) in the CANDLE cohort. Environ Int. 2022;160 :107078. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2022.107078. PubMed PMID:35007898 PubMed Central PMC8821329
    7. Kozlosky, D, Barrett, E, Aleksunes, LM. R egulation of Placental Efflux Transporters During Pregnancy Complications. Drug Metab Dispos. 2022; :. doi: 10.1124/dmd.121.000449. PubMed PMID:34992073
    8. Duberstein, ZT, Brunner, J, Panisch, LS, Bandyopadhyay, S, Irvine, C, Macri, JA, Pressman, E, Thornburg, LL, Poleshuck, E, Bell, K et al.. The Biopsychosocial Model and Perinatal Health Care: Determinants of Perinatal Care in a Community Sample. Front Psychiatry. 2021;12 :746803. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.746803. PubMed PMID:34867537 PubMed Central PMC8635705
    9. Meakin, C, Barrett, ES, Aleksunes, LM. Extravillous trophoblast migration and invasion: Impact of environmental chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Reprod Toxicol. 2022;107 :60-68. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2021.11.008. PubMed PMID:34838982 PubMed Central PMC8760155
    10. Rivera-Núñez, Z, Ashrap, P, Barrett, ES, Llanos, AAM, Watkins, DJ, Cathey, AL, Vélez-Vega, CM, Rosario, Z, Cordero, JF, Alshawabkeh, A et al.. Personal care products: Demographic characteristics and maternal hormones in pregnant women from Puerto Rico. Environ Res. 2022;206 :112376. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.112376. PubMed PMID:34798118 PubMed Central PMC8810700
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