Joanna Burger

Joanna Burger has a unique background to examine human and ecological risks (and benefits) of remediation on Department of Energy site

Joanna Burger

Distinguished Professor of Biology
Rutgers the State University of New Jersey

Email: burger@biology.rutgers.eduCRESP


B.S., Biology: State University of New York at Albany – 1963
M.S.,Vertebrate Zoology and Science Education: Cornell University – 1964
Ph.D., Behavioral Ecology and Evolution: University of Minnesota – 1972
Postdoc, Rutgers University – Institute of Animal Behavior – 1972-1973
Honorary PhD: University of Alaska at Fairbanks – 2006

CRESP Research Interests

  • Human and ecological risk
  • Biomonitoring
  • Fishing and fish consumption
  • Environmental health
  • Stakeholder participation and communication
  • Effects on receptors from remediation
  • Mercury risk to humans and other biota
  • Relationship between mercury and selenium
  • Public policy, risk, and remediation

Brief Biography

Burger was trained broadly as an ecologist, and over the years has worked with species (invertebrates to humans), populations (migratory and foraging animals, human fishing and fish consumption), and ecosystems (from coastal systems to the Arctic and Antarctic).  This background allowed her to study the relationship between human activities and plant/animal interactions. This interest blossomed into examining heavy metals exposure and effects, temporal patterns of exposure and levels, and food chain relationships from invertebrates through fish to birds and mammals (including people).  Ecological and human health evaluations and risk tie many of these topics together.

A special interest is involving stakeholders in research and management. These interests and research topics all combine to provide Burger with a unique background to examine human and ecological risks (and benefits) of remediation on Department of Energy sites.  Additional information can be found on her website:

CRESP Projects

  • Exposure and Risks from Mercury in Fish in the Savannah River
  • Environmental Monitoring and Bioindicator Selection at SRS
  • Perceptions of Future Land Use of the Public around SRS, Los Alamos, INL and Brookhaven
  • Footprint Reduction at DOE sites (spatial, not contaminant-based)
  • Radionuclides in Biota around Amchitka Island
  • Stakeholder Involvement in Biota Assessment for Amchitka Island*
  • Stakeholder Involvement – Synthesis and Case Studies of DOE and other sites*
  • Perceptions of the public about NRDA at SRS, Los Alamos, Hanford and Oak Oak Ridge*
  • Perceptions of NRDA and ecological goods and services at several DOE sites*
  • Comparison of Ecological Buffers around DOE and Commercial Power Plants*
  • Development of Environmental Assessment Courses for nuclear facilities*

* = Current CRESP Projects

Relevant Book

Burger, J. (editor) 2011. Stakeholders and Scientists: Achieving Implementable Solutions to Energy and Environmental Issues. Springer, New York, New York.


Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, D.S. Kosson, K.G. Brown, L.S. Bliss, A. Bunn, J.H. Clarke, H.J. Mayer, and J.A. Salisbury. 2019. The costs of delaying remediation on human, ecological, and eco-cultural resources: Considerations for the Department of Energy: A methodological framework. Science of the Total Environment, 649, 1054-1064.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, & C. Jeitner. 2018. Risk valuation of ecological resources at contaminated deactivation and decommissioning facilities: methodology and a case study at the Department of Energy’s Hanford site. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment190 (8), 478.

Burger, J., D. Kosson, C. Powers, M. Gochfeld. 2018. An information template for evaluating the relative priority of remediation projects that pose a risk to receptors. Waste Management Symposium, 2018. Phoenix, AZ. 18674.

Burger, J, M. Gochfeld, A. Bunn, D. Kosson, J. Salisbury. 2017. Ecological resource values, remediation options, and impacts: case studies from Hanford. Waste Management Symposium, March 5 – 9, 2017. Phoenix, AZ. 17226.

Burger, J, M. Gochfeld, A. Bunn, D. Kosson, J. Clarke, C. Jeitner, T. Pittfield. 2017. Risk to ecological resources from delaying decommissioning and waste management: case studies from the Hanford Site. Waste Management Symposium, March 5 – 9, 2017. Phoenix, AZ. 17156.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, A. Bunn, J. Downs, C. Jeitner, T. Pittfield, J. Salisbury, and D. Kosson. 2017. A methodology to evaluate ecological resources and risk using two case studies at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site. Environmental Manage 59(3), 357-372.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, A. Bunn, J. Downs, C. Jeitner, T. Pittfield, and J. Salisbury. 2016. Functional remediation components: A method of evaluating the effects of remediation on risks to ecological receptors. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. 79:957-968.

Burger J and M. Gochfeld. 2016. Initiating events, functional remediation, and assessment of risk to ecological resources. Ecological Indicators 71:32-40.

Burger, J., and M. Gochfeld. 2016. Heath risks to ecological workers on contaminated sites- the Department of Energy as s case study. Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education 6:3.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, C. Powers, K. Brown, J. Clarke. 2015. Using Salmon as a bioindicator of the health of the columbia river in Hanford. Waste Manage. Sympos March 15-19, Phoenix, AZ. 15534.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, Niles, L., C.W. Powers, K. Brown, J. Clarke, A. Dey.  2015. Complexity of bioindicator selection for ecological, human, and cultural health: Chinook Salmon and Red Knot as case studies. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 187:102.

Gochfeld, M, J. Burger, C. Powers, D. Kosson. 2015. Land use planning scenarios for contaminated land: Comparing EPA, State, Federal, and Tribal Approaches. Waste Management Symposium, March 15 – 19, 2015. Phoenix, AZ. 15642.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, J. Salisbury, A. Bunn. 2015. An Approach to evaluating ecological resources on DOE remediation sites, using Hanford as a case study to ensure protection and sustainability. Waste Management Symposium, March 15 – 19, 2015. Phoenix, AZ. 15524.

Burger, J. M. Gochfeld, C. Powers, and D. Kosson. 2014. Risk evaluations differ depending upon agency performing them: Implications for D.O.E. Waste Management Conference, Phoenix AZ, March 20-6, 2014. 14139.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, C.W. Powers, D. Kosson, J. Clarke, & K. Brown, 2014. Mercury at Oak Ridge: outcomes from risk evaluations can differ depending upon objectives and methodologies. Journal of Risk Research17(9), 1109-1124.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, C. Jeitner, T. Pittfield, M. Donio. 2014. Heavy metals in fish from the Aleutians: Interspecific and locational differences. Environmental Research. 131: 119-130.

Burger, J., Gochfeld M. 2013. Selenium: mercury molar ratios in freshwater, marine and commercial fish from the United States: variation, risk, and health management. Reviews on Environmental Health. 28:129-143.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, C. W. Powers, J. H. Clarke, K. Brown, D. Kosson, L. Niles, A. Dey, C. Jeitner, T. Pittfield. 2013. Determining environmental impacts for sensitive species: using iconic species as bioindicators for management and policy. J. Environ. Protection 4, 87-95.

Burger J, M. Gochfeld, J. Clarke, C.W. Powers, D. Kosson. 2013. An ecological multidisciplinary approach to protecting society, human health, and the environment at nuclear facilities. Remediation. 23(3) 123-148.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, C. Jeitner, M. Donio, and T. Pittfield. 2012. Selenium: Mercury molar ratios in freshwater fish from Tennessee: Individual, apecies, and geographical variations have implications for management. EcoHealth 9(2), 171-182.

Burger, J. 2012. Selenium:mercury molar ratios in fish from the Savannah River: Implications for risk management.  Journal of Risk Research. 15(3): 627-644.

Burger J., and M. Gochfeld. 2011. Conceptual environmental justice model: Evaluation of chemical pathways of exposure in low-income, minority, Native American, and other unique exposure populations. American Journal of Public Health. 101 Suppl. 1: S64-73.

Burger, J. 2011. Valuation of environmental quality and eco-cultural attributes in Northwestern Idaho: Native Americans are more concerned than Caucasians. Environmental Research. 111: 136-142.

Burger, J., S. Harris, B. Harper, and M. Gochfeld. 2010. Ecological information needs for environmental justice. Risk Analysis. 30 (6) 893-905.

Burger, J. and M. Gochfeld. 2009. Changes in Aleut concerns following the stakeholder-driven Amchitka Independent Science Assessment. Risk Analysis. 29(8): 1156-1169.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, and K. Pletnikoff. 2009. Collaboration versus communication: The Department of Energy’s Amchitka Island and the Aleut Community. Environ Res 109: 503-510.

Burger, J. 2008.  Environmental management:  Integrating ecological evaluation, remediation, restoration, natural resource damage assessment and long-term stewardship on contaminated lands. Science of the Total Environment 400: 6-19.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, K. Pletnikoff, R. Snigaroff, D. Snigaroff, and T. Stamm. 2008.  Ecocultural attributes:  evaluating, ecological degradation in terms of ecological goods and services versus subsistence and tribal values.  Risk Analysis 28 (5): 1261-1271.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, C.W. Powers, M. Greenberg. 2007. Defining an ecological baseline for restoration and natural resource damage assessment of contaminated sites:  the case of the Department of Energy. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 50:553-566.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, C.W. Powers, D.S. Kosson, J. Halverson, G. Siekaniec, A. Morkill, R. Patrick, L.K. Duffy, D. Barnes. 2007. Scientific research, stakeholders, and policy: Continuing dialogue during research on radionuclides on Amchitka Island, Alaska. Journal of Environmental Management, 85, 232-244.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, D.S. Kosson, C.W. Powers. 2007. A biomonitoring plan for assessing potential radionuclide exposure using Amchitka Island in the Aleutian chain of Alaska as a case study. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 98, 315-328.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, C. Jeitner, S. Burke, T. Stamm, R. Snigaroff, D. Snigaroff, R. Patrick, J. Weston. 2007. Mercury levels and potential risk from subsistence foods from the Aleutians. Science of the Total Environment, 384, 93-105.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, D. Kosson, C.W. Powers, B. Friedlander, M. Stabin, D. Favret, S. Jewett, D. Snigaroff, R. Snigaroff, T. Stamm, J. Weston, C. Jeitner, C. Volz, . 2007. Radionuclides in marine fishes and birds from Amchitka and Kiska Islands in the Aleutians: Establishing a baseline. Health Physics, 92(3), 265-279.

Burger, J. 2007. A framework for analysis of contamination on human and ecological receptors at DOE hazardous waste site buffer lands. Remediation, 17(2) 71-96.

Burger, J., M. Gochfeld, C.W. Powers. 2007. Integrating long-term stewardship goals into the remediation process: Natural resource damages and the Department of Energy. Journal of Environmental Management, 82, 189-199.

NRC: National Academy of Science Committees

1988-91 – Member: Board of Environmental Science and Toxicology (BEST)

1991-97 – Member: US National SCOPE Committee

1991 – Member: Committee to evaluate ecological risk assessment.  Arlie, Virginia.

1991-95 – Organizing Co-Chair for Coastal Processes Committee Symposium (SCOPE)

1994 – Peer Review Committee for DOT Committee

1995-98 – US SCOPE Conference on Estuarine Synthesis. Beckman Center. Feb. Co-chair

1995-98 – Member: Committee for Endocrine Disrupters

1995-96 – Member: Associateship Program; Life Sciences Panel

1997-01 – Member: Commission of Life Sciences Liaison to Committees

1998-01 – Member: Board on Biology

1999-01 – Member Commission on Life Sciences

1998-04 – Chair: International IUPAC/SCOPE Committee on Endocrine Disruptors

2000-08 – SGOMSEC (SCOPE for NAS)

2004 – NRC (NAS) delegate to SCOPE General Assembly (New Delhi, India)

Other Committees

Environmental Protection Agency; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Selected Awards

Distinguished Achievement Award:  Society of Risk Analysis

Brewster Medal: highest award in ornithology

Fellow: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Fellow: International Union of Pure and Applied Chemists

Fellow: American Ornithological Unions

Fellow: International Ornithological Union

Additional Information

Detailed profile – Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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