Joe Petersburger

Conservation Biologist, Wildlife Photojournalist


Growing up in a small village in Hungary, Joe Petersburger spent his early years with fishing and traveling on the land with his parents and 2 siblings, during which he developed field skills, a keen interest in observing wildlife and became passionate in nature conservation. He went to Toth Arpad High School in the town of Debrecen, which had a special biology program. During high school years he received individual 1st prices at two nationwide biology competitions. This was the time when Petersburger started wildlife photography. He earned his Master of Science degree at the University of Debrecen as a 'Biologist researcher specialized in ecology'. He wrote his masterwork on animal behavior. During the university years he discovered and described a new orchid species (Epipactis degenii) for the science with his friend, Ferenc Mónus in the Olympic Mountains/Greece at 6600 feet elevation.

After his degree, he received scholarship to Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Using his 8 years long folk dancer experience, he performed US-wide a 2,5 hours long show 80 times in a school year in 40 different states with the Duquesne's folk art performing group entitled 'Tamburitzans'. At this period Petersburger developed significant contacts in photography such as National Geographic Magazine and Canon Inc. Petersburger returned to Hungary after a year and started to cover stories for National Geographic Magazine. He also started his Ph.D. studies at University of Pecs in taxonomy, ecology and conservation of some Pulsatilla (Ranunculaceae) species. He has been teaching plant anatomy and wildlife photography for university students as well. With his first coverage on endangered Long-tailed Mayflies, Petersburger became the first Hungarian citizen, who could ever publish a story for National Geographic Magazine. To date, he has 3 feature articles published in NGM.

As a photographer, Petersburger concentrates on endangered, threatened species and habitats in Eastern Europe. He developed Tatorjan Foundation, which is focusing on multiplying endangered plants' and protecting their habitats. His photographic and researcher activity has taken him to the rainforests of Taiwan and Panama, the deserts of Egypt, the wetlands of Danube Delta or the mountains of Carpathians, Iceland and Transylvania. He is a frequently hired, recognized speaker, asked to present not just in Hungary, but England, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Taiwan, Ukraine and the US. Petersburger received recognitions at numerous international photographic competitions, such as: Focus on Your World, World Press Photo, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Nature's Best and Pictures of the Year International. Most recently, Petersburger received 1st prize at World Press Photo 2010 in 'Nature - Singles' category.

He photographed and wrote his first book on endangered Long-tailed mayflies, which was published in 2004. His filmography career started with Sir David Attenborough's major film series entitled 'Life in the Undergrowth', where Petersburger was hired as a scientist and fixer for filming mayflies and dragonflies in Hungary.

Petersburger received his Ph.D. in 2006, and recently active as a wildlife photojournalist, conservation biologist and teacher.

Currently, Petersburger lives in Hungary with his wife.