What SETAC Members Say…
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Peter V. Hodson
Department of Biology and School of Environmental Studies
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
I joined SETAC after the first annual meeting, because it provided me a professional "home” and was unlike any other society in its emphasis on interdisciplinary cooperation and engaging professionals from academia, business, and government (and later NGOs!). I was particularly attracted to the enthusiasm evident in the Society’s directors and members when they left their professional "hats” at home and focused on issues and principles fundamental to developing environmental toxicology and chemistry as a science, and applying it to environmental management and protection. At the time, the prevalent phrase that so aptly described SETAC members was "Just Do It,” which reflected the amazing pace of expansion of the Society, its acceptance in countries globally, and its influence on the quality, nature, and direction of research. Participating in meetings, workshops, and the governance of SETAC has provided me, and now my students, with some unforgettable experiences, great ideas for research, and a wide network of friends and contacts. I recommend SETAC to all students and professionals in this field as an essential part, and a valuable reward, of their career.
University of California, Riverside, USA
I completed my PhD in 1989 at Oregon State University, and having decided early on that I wanted to pursue academia, I completed a two-year postdoc at the Duke Marine Laboratory where I met Rich Di Giulio who was initially responsible for getting me interested in SETAC. After my first tenure-track position at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, I finally had the funds available to attend my first SETAC meeting in 1993. In 1995, I met Bill Benson and moved to the University of Mississippi, where with a host of other SETAC members helped to create the Mid-South Regional Chapter. After a brief interview at SETAC in 1999, I moved to the University of California, Riverside in 2000. I volunteered to be on the SETAC North America Education Committee and was eventually elected to their Board of Directors in 2003. The networking and scientific opportunities afforded through SETAC membership have been truly life changing, and I continue to participate every year at the regional, national, and now intermittently, international levels.
Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Iztapalapa, Mexico City, Mexico
I started studying ecotoxicology in the late 1980s in Mexico City, and getting access to journal copies or reprints was not only hard but also slow. There was no domestic professional society that specialized in this topic. By 1993, I earned a scholarship to study in the US. During my first semester, my advisor informed me that the SETAC North America annual meeting was taking place nearby, and that I should become a member, attend the meeting, and also take a course. This first contact made me realize that one of the most important roles of a professional society is to support students. As years passed and I had the opportunity to meet most of the authors of the papers I was reading, I realized the impact that a professional society can have. I decided to look for a way to replicate these experiences once I got back to Mexico. Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with other Mexican professionals who had similar experiences either in North America or in Europe, and by 2002 we gathered momentum and with SETAC’s support, organized our first meeting. This also gave rise to the formation of the SETAC Mexico Regional Chapter. Today, as professionals, we have immediate access to the most up-to-date information and to those who are writing it. Many of these individuals are willing to give their time and support to developing countries like Mexico just for the pleasure of being able to help. This in turn motivates students to become members. Finally our environmental authorities are aware of this successful relationship, and they feel comfortable consulting with us when information is needed or decisions need to be made.
Trent University, Ontario, Canada
SETAC has proved to be one of the most enlightened and progressive societies. Its focus on the environment is increasingly relevant as ecosystems are stressed, and we try to work towards a sustainable society. Its involvement of government, business, and academic partners on an equal footing is constructive and badly needed in our often confrontational society. Its global perspective is wonderful. I find it the ideal venue for academics, business, and government agencies from across the globe to meet, share experiences, enthusiasms, and ambitions. It is a "must join” society for young environmental scientists. One of my great pleasures as a long-time (i.e., old) member is to stroll among the posters and listen to presentations at the annual meetings and sense the enthusiasm and dedication of young scientists.
They are our hope for tomorrow! It is great to hear from my peers about their scientific advances and to experience their joy with new discoveries and insights into our complex and fascinating ecosystems. It is also enjoyable to occasionally poke fun at them and be on the receiving end as well! It is a joy to be part of the SETAC Community.
Mark R. Servos
University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
SETAC has become my scientific home. Since attending my first meeting while a student, SETAC has influenced the direction of my research but more importantly the way I approach it. The global, multidisciplinary, and multisectorial perspectives I learned through participation in SETAC meetings, workshops, and other activities have influenced every aspect of my research and teaching. SETAC has provided me with knowledge, opportunity, collaborations, and friends that will last a lifetime. I have been honored to serve the Society in several roles, and the experience enriched my life. The SETAC annual meeting to me is not just a conference but also a trip home to visit my family.
Intrinsik Environmental Sciences Inc., Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
I was a graduate student in 1989–1991, during an economic recession. I had to pay my own way to the SETAC meetings (sharing a hotel room with three other girls!). However, it was worth every penny, as I got my first two jobs because of my networking at SETAC (1991 in Seattle). My first job, a 6-month contract with the State of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in their Superfund program, came about from someone I met around the posters. My second job, with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, came about because I met Glenn Suter at a Student Mentoring event. The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been working as a consultant in the area of ERA ever since. I’ve also never missed a SETAC North America meeting (20 years)! I go every year for the friendships, the networking, and the science.
Shell Health, Houston, Texas, USA
SETAC has been a core activity for Shell as founding member and myself for 29 years. SETAC provides a platform for debating scientific, regulatory, and societal issues facing our world. The balance between academia, government, and business and that inclusiveness has enabled the development of some key decisions on chemicals in the environment and regulatory activities such as USEPA’s water quality–based program and whole effluent toxicity. SETAC has not only provided me a venue to grow professionally but a place where I have found career-long friends.
3M Environmental Laboratory, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
When I started in the environmental science field years ago, SETAC quickly proved to be a wonderful source of information for me. The annual meeting has always been a great event to get up to speed on ongoing research as well as new developing areas of interest to the environmental science community. Participation in regional chapters helped me make connections in the area and initiated many great discussions. Now I’m involved in various committees, which has deepened not only my understanding and support for SETAC but helped me make friends around the world. SETAC truly is a global community leading the science and understanding of environmental toxicology and chemistry and is an invaluable resource for anyone working in this field.
ENVIRON International Corp., Brentwood, Tennessee, USA
As a SETAC member in graduate school, just after the founding of SETAC, participation kept me abreast of current topics and helped me better focus my scientific and career interests. These are key reasons I stay active in SETAC to this day. Over the years, high-quality publications and presentations I’ve seen through SETAC have given me a good idea of what is the "Gold Standard” in my arena, and provided me with networking opportunities with those performing cutting-edge work. The friendships developed over the years, including my wife developing many friends through the Spouse Program at annual meetings, are icing on the cake. The key is to be active: like anything else—you’ll get out of it what you put into it.
Golder Associates, Richmond, Washington, USA
My 25-year involvement with SETAC has been integral to my ability to stay abreast of the scientific issues in environmental toxicology required for supporting our client’s projects. The SETAC North America annual meeting affords me a regular opportunity to meet with experts in the field, and to network and reconnect with colleagues and clients. For me, working on SETAC committees also provides invaluable opportunities to become more knowledgeable of and better connected with Society activities as well as to develop new personal and professional contacts. It is one of the "must attend” conferences for me each year.
Exponent, Bellevue, Washington, USA
SETAC has been my professional home for more than 20 years. It is a virtual "place” where I have learned and shared a wide spectrum of ecotoxicology information, had a lot of fun arguing about policy implications of scientific findings, and enjoyed debating scientific methods and interpretations of studies. But most importantly, I’ve met and built relationships, both professional and personal, with people from all over the world who are experts in a whole variety of absolutely fascinating disciplines and who work for all sorts of companies and organizations. These relationships have enriched my life immensely, and I feel very privileged to know people of such talent and with great passion for what they do.
E. R. Mancini & Associates, Camarillo, California, USA
As an environmental science consultant, I am a member of several scientific societies, but SETAC is the singular organization that integrates the critical disciplines of environmental contaminant fate, behavior, and effects. Within the membership of SETAC are some of the best minds in the fields of environmental chemistry, biology, ecotoxicology, and ecosystem resources. This knowledge is conveyed through Society journals, website communications and "communities,” formal workshops, informal discussions among individual scientists, and importantly, through the annual meeting. The professional networks developed among the academic, government, business, and NGO members facilitate and encourage our environmental science enterprise. I’ve been a Sustaining Member of SETAC for many years and greatly value my membership and friendships established through our Society.
Sandra M. Brasfield
US Army ERDC Environmental Lab, Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA
I started my graduate program in 1999, and though I had no data and nothing to present, I opted to attend the SETAC North America annual meeting in Philadelphia, on my own dime. This was perhaps one of the best things I could have done, as it meant my first impressions and experiences were not tainted with anxiety about a presentation; rather I could explore the sessions and student events with an open mind. The main result was the formation of enduring friendships which were somewhat independent of my chosen field of study, but would prove to be integral to my eventual employment and development. At the level of regional chapter and geographic unit, students are given amazing opportunities to get involved in the governance of the Society, and I was fortunate to be selected to be a student member on the SETAC North America Board of Directors, part of a Pellston workshop on population risk assessment, and asked to serve on several committees.
As an early career professional, the ways in which I capitalize on my professional network through continued involvement in SETAC has shifted. I find myself turning to the membership directory and annual meetings for seeking new employees and opportunities, scheduling meetings with existing project collaborators, and an effective venue to promote my organization. I still rely on the scientific presentations the way I did as a student, but the other contributions now make my SETAC membership one of the most important aspects of my professional development.
Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Germany
I visited my first SETAC Annual Meeting as a PhD student and student helper in 1999 and was immediately caught by the international atmosphere and the interdisciplinary cooperation on this meeting. Several years later and a now council member of SETAC Europe, I am still attracted by the interdisciplinary character on different levels in the society. First and most obviously, there are the broad aspects of environmental science from modeling to wildlife ecotoxicology, from tropical and polar ecotoxicology to marine and coastal risk assessment, all coming together in meetings and workshops. But also the tripartite structure, with professionals
from academia, business and government, make the society very lively. I still find the discussions with professionals of those different backgrounds constructive and enjoyable. This is true also and especially in the council. There I meet a group of highly motivated experts with different backgrounds serving the society and discussing science, independent if they are from academia,
industry or in my case from government.
USEPA Office of Research and Development, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
I became involved with SETAC while conducting research on human health effects of (methyl)mercury. Because people are primarily exposed through fish consumption, and bioaccumulation and biomagnification are important issues, the SETAC community was a terrific resource for information and collaborations that helped move my work forward. Our local chapter (Ohio Valley Chapter) also has several prominent members in leadership positions at the national organization, and their enthusiasm and commitment to SETAC proved infectious.
Researcher at the Spanish Research Council (CSIC)
I visited my first SETAC Annual Meeting as a post-doc in 1997 and I was impressed by its interdisciplinary and international atmosphere. The Society provided me the chance to meet scientists working in my subject and to make new contacts with industry and government. It offered me also the possibility to exchange ideas and meet interesting people. Now as a council member of SETAC Europe and co-chair of the SETAC Europe 25th Annual Meeting in Barcelona, I am still attracted by the interdisciplinary character of its science and its role in promoting the exchange of ideas and initiatives among academia, government and industry. I am particularly attracted by the enthusiasm that I find in the Society’s directors, staff members, council members and others when they have left their professional activities at home. I appreciate when they get focused on issues fundamental to developing environmental toxicology and chemistry as a science, and applying it to environmental management and society. The session and subject proposal system within SETAC is also unique since it is open to the society members instead of being a close system. This provides an atmosphere that reflects what a society working on environmental toxicology and chemistry needs. I am also surprised by the high quality of expertise that SETAC staff has in managing and organizing the many events. SETAC has become a nice meeting place for students working in environmental issues to exchange ideas and to search for career opportunities. For all the above mentioned points I hardly recommend people to join SETAC and if possible to participate in it.
USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland, USA
My involvement with SETAC dates to the beginning of our Society (Charter Member 1980). I have been fortunate to witness the evolution of SETAC from a core group of North American scientists focused on an interdisciplinary approach evaluating hazard and risk of chemicals to a global Society focused on environmental quality, ecosystem integrity, and sustainability. Much like the annual migration of birds, a November has yet to pass without my sojourn to our North America meeting. A week later I return to Maryland challenged, reinvigorated, and carrying a long "to do” list for the year to come. Through participation in our national conferences, regional meetings, workshops, and other activities, SETAC has shaped my professional career as both a scientist and educator. I am grateful to SETAC for introducing me to my closest colleagues, collaborators, and lifelong friends.
Orange County Sanitation District, Fountain Valley, California, USA
When I came to work for the Orange County Sanitation District, California, I was introduced to SETAC by a toxicologist workmate. I am a biological oceanographer conducting ocean monitoring for NPDES permit compliance with a secondary focus on aquatic toxicology. I find that my membership in SETAC is more relevant and important to my work in ocean monitoring than ecology-based marine biology associations and have chosen to focus my professional association efforts to SETAC. I am currently a government representative and a past president of the Southern California Regional Chapter. Through SoCal SETAC and the SETAC North America annual meetings I have met countless colleagues who have been of great help to me and my agency in addressing issues of concern, such as WET issues and the effects of EDCs on fish in our monitoring area. If I could be a member of only one professional association, SETAC would be my unequivocal choice for its environmental relevancy and interdisciplinary context.
USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center, Brooks, Oregon, USA
Professionally, I grew up with SETAC. Many of my fondest memories are linked to participating in the organization’s beginnings. Who could forget traveling to the 1980 SETAC annual meeting as one of a band of graduate students driving to Washington, D.C. from the University of Wyoming in November in a van dubbed the Frontal Lobotomy Express! In my mind’s eye, SETAC has developed into "early adulthood” through a series of snapshots taken at annual meetings and Pellston workshops—snapshots that capture a membership linked by personal and professional relationships, and a camaraderie that develops as people having varied interests share their passion for research in applied ecology and environmental science. Regardless of affiliation—government, for-profit or non-profit non-governmental organizations, or academic—that common interest provides a foundation for SETAC’s continued success as new members become involved with the Society and continue the job of building a professional society of their peers, each focused on the changing scene of environmental toxicology and chemistry.
USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center, Columbia, Missouri, USA
SETAC is my primary professional society, and I have never missed an annual meeting of SETAC North America since the first meeting in 1980. A primary reason why I choose to participate, is SETAC’s mission to provide a non-advocacy forum for communication among scientists and managers in government, NGOs, business, and academia. The annual meetings, workshops, and publications have defined my professional experiences throughout my career. In addition to the opportunities to interact with diverse organizations, SETAC has provided me the opportunity to make life-long personal friendships with many members of SETAC.
USEPA Atlanta Ecology Division, Narragansett, Rhode Island, USA
Coming out of graduate school and adapting my focus from chemical analysis to environmental processes and effects, SETAC has been my professional "home” almost from my first meeting. The SETAC North America annual meetings have provided a significant forum for discussions and interactions about utilization of analytical chemistry to understand environmental processes and effects amid a collegial atmosphere that promotes the use and application of "sound science.” The breadth of subject matter, short courses, and my interactions with colleagues has enabled me to branch into new research while maintaining ties to the research that brought me into SETAC in the first place. And the relationships I have developed directly through and because of SETAC have enriched my life, both personal and professional.
Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA
SETAC is a powerful and versatile resource. As a professional community, not only does my membership and involvement help keep me up to date on current problems and solutions in environmental chemistry and toxicology, it is also very useful for student researchers in disseminating the most up-to-date scientific standards and methods in an approachable way which can be adopted and used in undergraduate studies. Through its original research documents and other forms of literature, I find SETAC to be one of the most invaluable sources of information for a student environmental scientist.
USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland, USA
After attending my first SETAC North America meeting in New Orleans, I was greatly impressed with all of the opportunities and activities planned for students, including the Student Mentor Dinner and Noontime Seminars. This past summer, I contacted the North America Student Advisory Council to become more involved and was enthusiastically welcomed and encouraged to participate and volunteer with this committee. As a second year Ph.D. student, being part of this larger scientific community has already begun to play a valuable role in my education and professional development. SETAC keeps me informed about advancements in the field of ecotoxicology, student activities, short courses, and awards and provides access to scientific journals I use on a regular basis. This past year at my first Student Mentor Dinner, I made a valuable contact who down the road would serve as a collaborator. This truly shows how SETAC strives to create student–mentor connections and provides key networking opportunities for students at all stages in their education. 2010 in Portland will give me a continued opportunity to meet previous and new mentors, scientists, and other graduate students who share similar research interests.
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
Since 2001, I have been involved in SETAC, initially from the regional level within our local chapter to participation on a world level through SETAC North America (NA) and SETAC Europe. These experiences have made me realize the significance of SETAC in promoting science, and particularly the role of regional chapters in creating a sense of community by providing a forum for exchanging information, ideas, and most of all, establishing a network of colleagues.
Through participation in SETAC, I’ve been able to become involved in other facets, such as joining the SETAC Global Advisory Group (2006), as a participant in both North America and Europe, and now serving as part of the group’s steering committee. Volunteering with this group has helped me learn how to organize and coordinate SETAC sessions, short courses, and annual meetings, and not to mention a few socials in between! I’ve been fortunate not only to meet a diverse number of scientists and expand my depth of knowledge and appreciation for research, but also to establish and maintain a network of colleagues who share my passion for research.
SETAC welcomes student participation, holds meetings to foster communication between students and provides mentorship to help guide students on an academic and vocational scale. I’ve been able to experience this first hand as an M.Sc. and Ph.D. student, participating in and helping to organize student-oriented events. My most recent role in SETAC has been Chair of the SETAC NA Student Advisory Council (NASAC) (2008–2010) and student member of the SETAC North America’s Board of Directors. Working together with regional and at-large members, this role enabled me to give back to SETAC by bringing forth students’ ideas and concerns to the SETAC North America Board of Directors to further enrich student experiences.
For any student, becoming a part of SETAC—whether it is at the regional, national, or international level—will instill a sense of belonging and contribution, providing confidence to continue to succeed and contribute back to society.
University of Nebraska, Omaha, USA
My involvement in SETAC began through the encouragement of my master’s thesis advisor, who was an active member in SETAC. He encouraged me to join the organization to enhance my scientific presentation and networking skills. Throughout my three years (so far) as a student member in SETAC, I have had the opportunity to present my research to a larger audience and in addition become involved as a regional student representative in the North America Student Advisory Council (NASAC). Through my participation in NASAC, I have had the chance to give input into the organization from a student’s point of view, work closely with other student representatives from across the North America division of SETAC, and learn more about the SETAC organization. In addition, my involvement in NASAC and SETAC prompted me to apply to chair NASAC, which resulted in my election. I hope that I can increase the involvement of students within NASAC and SETAC through coordination of student events and outreach. This organization has given me many opportunities to excel as a scientist, student, and a professional, which I hope to use within this organization to assist other students and young professionals in the future.
University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
I first became involved with SETAC by attending dinner meetings held by my local chapter. This was a great way to connect with other people in environmental toxicology and chemistry and to learn more about SETAC. I quickly learned that SETAC has a lot to offer to graduate students such as myself.
In 2007, I joined the Board of Directors of Laurentian SETAC and have since participated in, as well as chaired, a number of its committees. Last year, I had the honor of serving as President of Laurentian SETAC. These experiences have been invaluable to my professional development and have been extremely rewarding. They also gave me the opportunity to get more involved with SETAC North America by participating in the Regional Chapter Committee and the North America Student Advisory Committee.
I have also been fortunate to have been able to attend the SETAC North America annual meetings in Montreal and in New Orleans, and I look forward to attending many more meetings in the future. These meetings are the best way for me to share my research, catch up on the latest science, reconnect with friends and to meet other researchers in my field. There are always a number of excellent events, many of which are geared specifically towards graduate students.
My experiences with SETAC have been very positive and will help me as I transition from a graduate student to a working professional. I strongly recommend that other students get involved.