Dr. Burken's research and service efforts have focused upon low impact and natural treatment systems since 1991. In that time, terms of sustainable-remediation and green-remediation have evolved and now promote the same fundamental aspects surrounding water quality and water resource management. Dr. Burken Received his PhD from the University of Iowa, where he did the seminal research on phytoremediation in the environmental engineering laboratories there. Dr. Burken has also held research position at EAWAG in Zurich Switzerland (research intern) and at the National Environment Research Institute (NERI) in Denmark (visiting researcher - OECD Fellow). He has been at Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly University of Missouri - Rolla) since 1997, reaching the rank of Professor in 2008 and serving at the Environmental Research Center Interim Director from 2008 - 2010.
His research in phytoremediation of organic contaminants and pioneering work in PhytoForensics have led to numerous publications and international recognition. This recognition includes twice winning the ASCE Rudolf Hering Medal and also an NSF Career award. He has also initiated research into the financial benefits of carbon credit trading and the water footprint of biofuels that are being developed. While at Missouri S&T he initiated the environmental engineering program as well as the green campus committee and the sustainability minor. Dr. Burken was active in the formation of the International Phytotechnologies Society, Dr. Burken served on the founding team and as the inaugural Vice President and served on the founding team and Editorial Board of the International Journal of Phytoremediation, currently an Associate Editor. Dr. Burken also serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Environmental Engineering. Dr. Burken was the conference chair and host for the 6th International Phytotechnologies Conference in St. Louis in 2009. He was elected to the board of director and then to serve as the Vice President of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, and will serve as President in 2011-2012.