Johnna Birbeck

Johnna Birbeck

Senior research scientist


037 Chemistry

Curriculum vitae

Johnna Birbeck



As a senior scientist and manager of the Mass Spectrometry Core in the Lumigen Instrumentation Center, Dr. Birbeck has developed in-house analytical methods for quantification of multiple environmental and biological studies using instrumentation such as HPLC-PDA, HPLC-qTOF, and UPLC-MS/MS. Other duties include being the project manager for the Mass Spectrometry Core where she runs large projects for researchers and outside customers using various methods, including EPA methods using ICP-MS or LC-MS/MS instrumentation. Studies include testing fingernails for arsenic levels, testing water samples for lead and copper, and testing water samples for various cyanotoxins and other emerging contaminates such as endocrine disruptors and pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Dr. Birbeck also trains students, faculty, staff, and outside customers on how to use LC-MS/MS, nano-LC FTMS, and ICP-MS instrumentation in the LIC.

Since her undergraduate career, Dr. Birbeck has worked in the environmental field working on a U.S. EPA grant investigating the health of the St. Mary’s river is Sault Sainte Marie, MI, as well as spending two summers working at the University of Michigan’s biological station as an Assistant Laboratory Technician where she analyzed a variety of environmental water samples for nutrients such as ammonium, nitrates, phosphates, chloride, silica, and total organic phosphates using continuous flow Auto Analyzers. In 2013, Dr. Birbeck earned her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from WSU.

In her graduate work, she started her method development career by developing a method to simultaneously detect dopamine, adenosine, and their metabolites using HPLC with electrochemical detection. Other graduate studies included work on two projects relating to the characterization of the dopamine system in brain derived neurotrophic factor deficient mice (BDNF+/-) using microdialysis and HPLC with electrochemical detection.


  • B.S. Chemistry, Lake Superior State University, 2008
  • B.S. Forensic Chemistry, Lake Superior State University, 2008
  • Ph.D. Analytical Chemistry, Wayne State University, 2013

Selected publications

  • Olson, N.E., Cooke, M.E., Shi, J., Birbeck, J.A., Westrick, J.A. and Ault, A.P., 2020. Harmful Algal Bloom Toxins in Aerosol Generated from Inland Lake Water. Environmental Science & Technology.
  • Birbeck, J.A., Peraino, N.J., O’Neill, G.M., Coady, J., and Westrick, J.A. 2019. Dhb Microcystins Discovered in USA Using an Online Concentration LC-MS/MS Platform. Toxins (Basel) 11 (11): E653.
  • Thees, A., Atari, E., Birbeck, J.A., Westrick, J.A., and Huntly, J.F. 2019. Isolation and Characterization of Lake Erie Bacteria that Degrade the Cyanobacterial Microcystin Toxin MC-LR. Journal of Great Lake Research 45(1):138-149.
  • Birbeck, J. A., Westrick, J.A., O’Neill, G.M., Spies B., and Szlag, D.C. 2019. Comparative Analysis of Microcystin Prevalence in Michigan Lakes by Online Concentration LC/MS/MS and ELISA. Toxins (Basel) 11 (1): E13.
  • Citriglia, M.E., Agrawal, S.G., Bhattacharyya, D., Read, R.A., Schordock, D.C., Westrick, J.A. and Birbeck, J.A. 2019. Evaluation and Optimization of Microcystin Analytical Methods. (Copyright 2019) WRF ISBN: 978-1-60573-395-1, WRF Project Number: 4647.
  • Birbeck, J. A.; Khalid, M.; Mathews, T. A., Potentiated striatal dopamine release leads to hyperdopaminergia in female brain-derived neurotrophic factor heterozygous mice. ACS Chem Neurosci 2014, 5 (4), 275-81.
  • Birbeck, J. A.; Mathews, T. A., Simultaneous detection of monoamine and purine molecules using high-performance liquid chromatography with a boron-doped diamond electrode. Anal Chem 2013, 85 (15), 7398-404.
  • Bosse, K. E.; Birbeck, J. A.; Newman, B. E.; Mathews, T. A., Analysis of Neurotransmitters and their Metabolites by Liquid Chromatography. Liquid Chromatography: Applications, Elsevier: 2013; pp 542-609.
  • Bosse, K. E.; Maina, F. K.; Birbeck, J. A.; France, M. M.; Roberts, J. J.; Colombo, M. L.; Mathews, T. A., Aberrant striatal dopamine transmitter dynamics in brain-derived neurotrophic factor-deficient mice. J Neurochem 2012, 120 (3), 385-95.
  • Keller, B. J.; Back, R. C.; Westrick, J.; Werner, M.; Evans, B.; Moerke, A.; Zimmerman, G.; Wright, D. D.; Grenfell, E.; Courneya, J., Sediment quality at select sites in the St. Marys River Area of Concern. J Great Lakes Res 2011, 37, 12-20.