Gillings School Directory

Julia Rager, PhD

Dr. Julia Rager

Julia Rager, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
  • 135 Dauer Drive
  • CB #7431
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599
  • USA

Assistant Professor Rager’s research focuses on identifying relationships between exposures to chemical mixtures in the environment and toxicological outcomes. Her research largely encompasses three thematic approaches, all aimed at understanding chemical mixture-disease relationships:

(1) Computational mixtures modeling techniques are implemented to identify and prioritize the most harmful chemicals within environmental mixtures based on high dimensional data analyses.

(2) Mixtures toxicity tests are being developed and employed to better characterize toxicological responses to complex mixtures through the use of in vitro screening methods.

(3) Chemical mixtures analyses are carried out using non-targeted and suspect screening methods to better characterize the breadth of environmental chemicals to which humans are exposed.

Dr. Rager’s ongoing research encompasses various mixture exposure conditions, target organs, and disease outcomes. Exposures include inhalation exposures to atmospheric mixtures, wildfire smoke, and e-cigarette mixtures impacting the respiratory system. Other exposures include drinking water contaminants and natural botanicals, among others, impacting the liver and developmental toxicity outcomes. By combining exposure measures alongside toxicity outcomes, Dr. Rager’s research is placed into the context of chemical risk prioritization and risk assessment, with the ultimate goal of improving chemical safety assessments to better protect public health.

Dr. Julia Rager is a part of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. She works with Dr. Rebecca Fry and a team of scientists as part of the Institute for Environmental Health Solutions, as well as the UNC Superfund Research Program.

Honors and Awards

Best Paper for Advancing the Science of Risk Assessment

2018, Society of Toxicology Risk Assessment Specialty Section

Top 10 Abstracts

2016, 2017, Society of Toxicology Risk Assessment Specialty Section

Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology Junior Investigator Award

2014, American Journal of Physiology

Post-Doctoral Syngenta Fellowship in Human Health Applications of New Technologies

2013, Society of Toxicology

Graduate Student Fellowship – Novartis Award

2012, Society of Toxicology

George C. Bunker Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Professional Promise in Environmental Engineering

2011, UNC

Research Activities

- Mixtures modeling

- Mixtures toxicology

- Risk assessment

- Environmental science

- Exposure assessment

Key Publications

New Approach Methods to Evaluate Health Risks of Air Pollutants: Critical Design Criteria for In Vitro Exposure Testing. Zavala J, Freedman A, Jaspers I, Wambaugh JF, Higuchi M, Rager JE++. (1970). Int J Environ Res Public Health, 17(6).

Identifying attributes that influence in vitro-to-in vivo concordance by comparing in vitro Tox21 bioactivity versus in vivo DrugMatrix transcriptomic responses across 130 chemicals. Klaren WD, Ring C, Thompson CM, Borghoff S, Harris MA, Sipes NS, Hsieh J, Auerbach SS, Rager JE++ (1970). Toxicol Sci, 167(1), 157-171.

Epigenetics in chemical-induced genotoxic carcinogenesis. Chappell GA, Rager JE+ (2017). Current Opinion in Toxicology, 6.

Linking high resolution mass spectrometry data with exposure and toxicity forecasts to advance high-throughput environmental monitoring. Rager JE, Strynar MJ, Liang S, McMahen RL, Richard AM, Grulke CM, Wambaugh JF, Isaacs KK, Judson R, Williams AJ, Sobus JR (2016). Environ Int, 88.


PhD, Environmental Sciences and Engineering (Focus in Toxicology), Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2013

Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MSEE), Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2010

BS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Pre-Medicine, University of Texas, 2008

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