Joan B. Berkowitz received her BA degree from Swarthmore College (1952), and her PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Illinois under the direction of Frederick T. Wall (1955). After an NSF postdoctoral fellowship in the group of Raymond Fuoss at Yale, Dr. Berkowitz relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts where she joined Arthur D. Little, Inc., an international management and technology consulting firm. There she did research in high temperature chemistry related to solid rocket propellants and rocket nozzle material, developed background data to support the then new hazardous waste regulations, and assisted the regulated community in assuring compliance with those regulations. In the fall of 1979, A. D. Little sponsored her enrollment in the Senior Executive Program of the MIT Sloan School of Management. After leaving A. D. Little in 1986, she moved to Washington, D.C. to become president of Risk Science International, a small environmental consulting subsidiary of Frank B. Hall. She left Risk Science in 1989 to form her own company, Farkas, Berkowitz & Co. (FBC), with her partner Alan Farkas. FBC provides management consulting services to presidents of environmental and infrastructure companies. In addition to full time consulting with FBC, she is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland teaching to students working for a masters degree in environmental management.
Dr. Berkowitz has specialized in the area of environmental management since 1972, when she contributed to the U.S. EPA's First Report to Congress on Hazardous Waste. One of her many contributions to waste management is the first handbook on alternatives to landfill in the management of hazardous wastes, sponsored by the U.S.E.P.A., published in hard cover by Noyes Data in 1978 and widely recognized as an authoritative reference. In 1983, she received the Achievement Award of the Society of Women Engineers for her pioneering contributions in the field of hazardous waste management. She has also been affiliated with the American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, and was president of the Electrochemical Society from 1979 to 1980.
In 1959 Dr. Berkowitz married her high school beau Arthur P. Mattuck, who by that time was a faculty member at MIT. They have a daughter, Rosemary, who is also a physical chemist working in the field of environmental risk assessment. Dr. Berkowitz was quite active in the women's movement in the early 1970s, and she credits this for her divorce in 1977. One of her proudest achievements was co-founding a day care center in Brookline, Massachusetts that still thrives under her continued support.