Joanna Burger, Ph.D.

Rutgers University – School of Arts and SciencesEOHSI – Environmental and Population Health Bio-Sciences
Nelson Hall Room B210 Busch Campus Piscataway NJ 08854 Work Phone: 848-445-4318 Work Phone: 848-445-3497 Work Fax: 732-445-5870 Website: Joanna Burger’s Bio Page
Photo of Joanna Burger Ph.D.

Biographical Info

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, Jeitner, C, Zappalorti, RT, Bunnell, JF, Ng, K, DeVito, E, Schneider, D, Gochfeld, M. Snake Fungal Disease in Free-Ranging Northern Pine Snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus) in New Jersey: Lesions, Severity of Sores and Investigator’s Perceptions. J Fungi (Basel). 2024;10 (2):. doi: 10.3390/jof10020125. PubMed PMID:38392797 PubMed Central PMC10889963
  2. Burger, J, Feigin, S, Fojtik, A, Dey, A, Ng, K. Bioaccumulation of Some Metals and Metalloids in Laughing Gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla): Increases in Mercury and Decreases in Selenium from 2019 to 2022/2023. Toxics. 2023;11 (12):. doi: 10.3390/toxics11121007. PubMed PMID:38133408 PubMed Central PMC10748039
  3. Burger, J, Gochfeld, M, Brown, KG, Ng, K, Cortes, M, Kosson, D. The importance of recognizing Buffer Zones to lands being developed, restored, or remediated: on planning for protection of ecological resources. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2024;87 (4):133-149. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2023.2285511. PubMed PMID:37997947 PubMed Central PMC10843829
  4. Burger, J, Feigin, S, Ng, K, Jeitner, C, Tsipoura, N, Niles, L, Gochfeld, M. Some metals and metalloids in the blood of three species of shorebirds increase while foraging during two-week migratory stopover in Delaware Bay, New Jersey. Environ Res. 2023;238 (Pt 2):117194. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.117194. PubMed PMID:37748669 PubMed Central PMC10841762
  5. Burger, J. Metal Levels in Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab Eggs from the Surface Reflect Metals in Egg Clutches Laid beneath the Sand. Toxics. 2023;11 (7):. doi: 10.3390/toxics11070614. PubMed PMID:37505579 PubMed Central PMC10386046
  6. Burger, J, Gochfeld, M, Giffen, N, Brown, KG, Cortes, M, Ng, K, Kosson, DS. Comparing land cover and interior forests on contaminated land and the surrounding region: Oak Ridge Reservation as a case study. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2023;86 (15):501-517. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2023.2223231. PubMed PMID:37335075
  7. Burger, J, Gochfeld, M, Zappalorti, R, Bunnell, J, Jeitner, C, Schneider, D, Ng, K, DeVito, E, Lorch, JM. Prevalence of Ophidiomyces ophidiicola and epizootiology of snake fungal disease in free-ranging Northern Pine Snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus) in New Jersey. Environ Monit Assess. 2023;195 (6):662. doi: 10.1007/s10661-023-11259-w. PubMed PMID:37169998
  8. Burger, J, Greenberg, M, Lowrie, K, Goldstein, BD. Bernard D. Goldstein-Risk communication as an essential component of public health practice. Risk Anal. 2022;42 (11):2459-2463. doi: 10.1111/risa.14055. PubMed PMID:36625059 PubMed Central PMC10316670
  9. Burger, J, Greenberg, M, Lowrie, K, Berlin, K. Ken Berlin-Climate science, risk, and solutions must be communicated together. Risk Anal. 2022;42 (11):2531-2535. doi: 10.1111/risa.14034. PubMed PMID:36625058 PubMed Central PMC10316665
  10. Burger, J, Greenberg, M, Lowrie, K, Safina, C. Carl Safina-Provide your audience with information they care about. Risk Anal. 2022;42 (11):2525-2530. doi: 10.1111/risa.14056. PubMed PMID:36625057 PubMed Central PMC10316667
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See complete list of Dr. Burger’s publications




Categories: Faculty, Environmental and Population Health Biosciences, Epi Members, Global Health, Member

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