Our Faculty

Joanna Burger Ph.D.


Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute

Division of Environmental and Population Health Bio-Sciences

Rutgers University

Room B210

Nelson Hall

Work Phone: 848-445-4318 (office) 


Research Areas

Main research interests are behavior and ecology of communities, behavioral eco-toxicology, ecological risk, environmental monitoring and assessment, human health effects of fish consumption, ecological implications of environmental justice, ecological impacts of energy alternatives, and stakeholder involvement in environmental decisions. My research involves understanding the effects and interactions of animals and people with respect to environmental degradation, chemical and radionuclide contamination, habitat destruction, and the disproportionate burden on some populations. One focus is on the levels and effects of pollutants on eco-receptors and on humans, especially from mercury in fish. This involves not only examining levels of contaminants, but assessing consumption patterns, perceptions of the public, and management of those risks.

Another significant research area is working with The Department of Energy on ecological health and risk at their facilities as part of the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation.

Research Highlights

  • Understanding contaminant levels in salt water fish from New Jersey, consumption patterns of fishers, perceptions of risk from contaminants in these fish, and resultant risk from mercury.
  • Development of a conceptual model for unique exposures of low-income, minority and other environmental justice communities.
  • Development of a template for fate and transport, ecological, and human health information needed to assess safety of contaminated sites or new nuclear facilities.
  • Assessment of the relationship between selenium and mercury in salt water fish (selenium is thought to be protective for mercury exposure).
  • Biomonitoring of mercury, lead and cadmium in eggs of Common Terns in NJ from 1971 to the present.
    Development of a Conservation Plan for Pine Snakes in the NJ Pine Barrens.

Scholarly Activities

  •  Participate (and present papers) in EPA conference on Environmental Justice
  • Organizing and eiting a book on Science and Stakeholders: Finding Solutions to Environmental and Energy-related Problems.
  • Participate and present papers in EPA Fish Forum conference.
  • Work with the Department of Energy (through CRESP) on ensuring ecological and human health around current nuclear facilities, with implications for commercial nuclear.
  • Serve on the Altamont, California Scientific Review Committee for wind energy.
  • Provide ecological advice to BP and others concerning the recent Gulf Oil Spill.

Recent Publications

  1. Burger, J, Gochfeld, M, Kosson, DS, Brown, KG, Salisbury, J, Greenberg, M, Jeitner, C. Combining ecological, eco-cultural, and environmental justice parameters to create Eco-EJ indicators to monitor cultural and environmental justices for diverse communities around contaminated sites. Environ Monit Assess. 2022;194 (3):177. doi: 10.1007/s10661-021-09535-8. PubMed PMID:35150318
  2. Burger, J. Ecocultural attributes are important components of perceptions of the importance of coastal beaches of conservation concern. Sci Total Environ. 2022;826 :153571. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.153571. PubMed PMID:35122856
  3. Dahmardeh Behrooz, R, Burger, J. Heavy Metals in the Liver, Kidney, Brain, and Muscle: Health Risk Assessment for the Consumption of Edible Parts of Birds from the Chahnimeh Reservoirs Sistan (Iran). Biol Trace Elem Res. 2021; :. doi: 10.1007/s12011-021-02995-6. PubMed PMID:34735689
  4. Dahmardeh Behrooz, R, Burger, J. Heavy metals in liver, kidney, brain, and muscle slender-billed gull (Chroicocephalus genei) from south-eastern Iran. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2022;29 (7):10319-10331. doi: 10.1007/s11356-021-16029-0. PubMed PMID:34523093
  5. Campbell, LJ, Burger, J, Zappalorti, RT, Bunnell, JF, Winzeler, ME, Taylor, DR, Lorch, JM. Soil Reservoir Dynamics of Ophidiomyces ophidiicola, the Causative Agent of Snake Fungal Disease. J Fungi (Basel). 2021;7 (6):. doi: 10.3390/jof7060461. PubMed PMID:34201162 PubMed Central PMC8226778
  6. Burger, J, Gochfeld, M, Bunn, A, Looney, B, Jeitner, C. Role of uncertainties in protecting ecological resources during remediation and restoration. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2021;84 (12):485-502. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2021.1887783. PubMed PMID:33632081
  7. Gochfeld, M, Burger, J. Mercury interactions with selenium and sulfur and the relevance of the Se:Hg molar ratio to fish consumption advice. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021;28 (15):18407-18420. doi: 10.1007/s11356-021-12361-7. PubMed PMID:33507504 PubMed Central PMC8026698
  8. Burger, J, Gochfeld, M. Biomonitoring selenium, mercury, and selenium:mercury molar ratios in selected species in Northeastern US estuaries: risk to biota and humans. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021;28 (15):18392-18406. doi: 10.1007/s11356-020-12175-z. PubMed PMID:33471308
  9. Burger, J, Gochfeld, M. A template of information needs for decision-making about delaying remediation on contaminated lands to protect human health. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2020;83 (10):379-394. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2020.1763221. PubMed PMID:32501180
  10. Burger, J, Gochfeld, M, Kosson, DS, Brown, KG, Salisbury, JA, Jeitner, C. Risk to ecological resources following remediation can be due mainly to increased resource value of successful restoration: A case study from the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site. Environ Res. 2020;186 :109536. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.109536. PubMed PMID:32344209

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See complete list of Dr. Burger’s publications

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