Jo Burgess (PhD)

Head Trial Reservoir Global Services


South Africa

Jo is an environmental scientist with more than 20 years’ experience in the water, environment and wastewater sectors. At Isle, she is responsible for the Trial Reservoirs, international initiatives that aim to mitigate climate change, enable progress towards the circular economy, and support environmental justice by accelerating the uptake and application of technologies to take the water industry and adjacent sectors towards net zero carbon and sustainable development goals. The Trial Reservoirs provide independent validation and loan funding for technology trials that trigger full scale, commercial implementation.

Prior to joining Isle, Jo held roles as a researcher and research manager. She has proven experience in research and development of new technologies. Her work at the academic / industrial interface has been recognised through nine international awards (such as the Royal Academy of Engineers, Society of Chemical Industry and Institute of Chemical Engineers). Her work has involved academic, public sector and private sector partners. Jo is a former director on the board of ROCKBlue, a non-profit NGO that supports utilities in Africa with good governance and financial management. She was the 2014-2016 chair of the board of the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA) and remained a director of the company until 2019. She is a previous chair of the WISA Mine Water Division, and was a Fellow of the International Water Association (IWA) in 2012-2017. She is a Member of the Royal Society (RSSAf), and the founding president of the IWA / WISA South African Young Water Professionals, an organization which now numbers its members in the thousands. Jo is currently an editor for the journals npj Clean Water (Nature Partner Journals), Water Science and Technology (IWA Publishing) and Environmental Technology Reviews (Taylor & Francis).

Areas of Expertise:

Technology trial validation
Biological wastewater treatment
Industrial wastewater treatment and water management


PhD Environmental Biotechnology, University of Cranfield

MRes Water Pollution Control Technology, University of Cranfield

BSc (Hons) Environmental Biology, University of Wales

SFWISA, MIWA, MRSSAf. Visiting Professor, University of Cape Town

Jo is also an honorary professor in the Centre for Bioprocess Engineering Research in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town, and author of >150 published research outputs in total, including journal articles (60+), books, book chapters, conference presentations / proceedings and research reports (h-index 25, more than 2000 citations).