Formats and Guidelines

Session Formats

Session Formats

The following list describes potential session formats at a SETAC meeting.

Poster Sessions

Poster sessions are made up of a group of presentations given with the aid of posters.

Traditional Poster Sessions

Poster presentations are selected and organized into sessions by the session chairs in collaboration with the program committee from abstracts submitted during the call for presentations. Posters should stand on their own, telling the research story without a verbal narrative. However, it is often helpful when presenters provide a short oral narrative of their work . Participants can engage in one-on-one Q&A with the presenters.

Poster Corner Sessions

In this type of a session a few posters (3–4) are grouped together and are discussed jointly. During the assigned poster corner session, the session chair gives a short introduction (~3 minutes) to the shared topic of the posters, then each presenter briefly (~3-5 minutes) presents their poster. After all posters have been presented, the audience is given a chance for a Q&A.

Platform Sessions

Traditional Platform Sessions

Traditional platform sessions are made up of a series of presentations given with the aid of slides. Presentations are selected and organized by the session chairs in collaboration with the program committee from abstracts submitted during the call for presentations. Participants can engage in Q&A with the presenters. Traditional sessions will occur as 120 minute blocks that can include six 12-minute talks, followed by 3 minutes for Q&A and 5 minutes for transition. Some traditional platform sessions may reserve the last slot for a moderated conversation based on a few discussion points to allow for an overarching dialogue about the topic. In that case, chairs are asked to submit an abstract for the discussion slot with high level discussion points.

Special Sessions

Special sessions need to be organized well in advance of the meeting and in full collaboration with the meeting program committee and the SETAC office to be successful. These sessions can be composed of invited and solicited abstracts. Typically, only a few such sessions are organized at the meeting. Individuals proposing a special session should include a description of the format requested, and if applicable, list topics and speakers that will be invited and any other pertinent details. Special session can be 1 or 2 hours in length. These sessions take more preparatory work on the part of the session organizers; however, they are often rewarding to all participants and make for a diverse and stimulating program. If you have any ideas of special session formats you would like to pursue, please contact to discuss. A few examples of various special session formats are presented below.


SETAC forums have a slightly flexible format. This type of format is helpful to demonstrate tools or heavily engage with the audience. It is useful where strict timing between speakers might be an impediment to advancing the topic.

SETAC Debate Session

SETAC debate sessions have been highly successful in past meetings. The session organizers carefully select three to five guests to debate a hot topic with assistance of a moderator (could be a session organizer). The session organizers ensure that various aspects or stances on the topic are represented to allow for a thorough debate. The guests come prepared to defend their stance while the moderator is prepared to keep the debate going by making pointed provocative statements. SETAC debates are typically quite thought provoking. They are often lively and great for public commentary on contentious issues that are relevant to the SETAC audience. The moderator and debaters are, of course, expected to adhere to common courtesy and the SETAC code of conduct. Debate sessions lend themselves very well to controversial topics.

SETAC Panel Discussion Session

Panel discussions are a great way to get more than one expert opinion on a topic in a short amount of time. The goal of the discussions is to present an overarching perspective and summarize the state of the science on the topic. The session organizers carefully select three to five guests to present about and discuss a specific topic with the assistance of a moderator (could be a session organizer). Panels are much more open and interactive than traditional presentations, and debates and audience participation is highly encouraged. Panel discussions are a great option to discuss timely topics and new approaches.

SETAC Storytelling Session

Storytelling is an engaging presentation style that is gaining popularity. The presentation “stories” can be the typical length of a traditional platform presentation delivered as a story and followed by a short Q&A period. The storytelling format is an excellent choice for sessions focused on case studies (e.g., session focused on green chemistry, LCA, remediation, restoration, ecosystem services and sustainability).

SETAC Campfire Session

Campfire sessions are a cross between the storytelling sessions and panel discussions. A short story is told and followed with extensive discussion. The goal is to allow the attendees to generate the majority of the discussion and knowledge sharing. The storyteller becomes the facilitator. Attendees get to participate, learn, listen to multiple perspectives on the same issue, and share experiences with others. Campfire sessions could be a good format for case studies where the presenters identify several alternatives or challenges and want input from the audience on solutions. This could be a good fit for sessions focused on development of methods, models, technologies, etc.

SETAC Wave Session

Inspired by Pecha Kucha and Ignite, this is a rapid presentation style where speakers have a short amount of time to present a limited number of slides that have a minimum text font size or maximum number of words per slide. This presentations style allows speakers to give a big picture overview of a subject in a short amount of time thus providing “a wave” of information that quickly washes over the audience. For example, this format could suggest presentations follow a 6-12-24 rule (6 slides, 12 minutes, 24 font/words per slide). Session organizers may want to work with presenters ahead of the meeting to insure they are interpreting requirements well and that the session will be a success.

Virtual Only Sessions

Presentations in virtual-only sessions can take the form of PDFs, videos (12 minutes or less) or enhanced posters. These presentations must be submitted prior to the meeting start date and will be accessible online to all meeting participants on-demand (i.e., will not be associated with a set date or time). Participants can interact with presenters via asynchronous chat.

Session Guidelines

Session Guidelines

Sessions are developed in collaboration between sessions chairs and the program committee, who are required to adhere to all SETAC policies, including the Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct as well as Participants Policy. This is inclusive of SETAC’s Open Science and Confidentiality Policy and, as such, unpublished material in a submitted abstract is confidential and shall not be used or otherwise disseminated until published, and then with appropriate attribution as well.

To learn more about the types of sessions supported at the SETAC North America annual meeting, please review the session formats tab above.

Session Submission

  • Format: 
    • Title: Please use title case and spell out abbreviations and acronyms. There is a limit of 150 characters (including spaces) for the title of the session.
    • Description: Do not exceed 2,500 characters (including spaces and references). Keep abbreviations and acronyms to a minimum and be clear and concise.
    • Session chairs: Please list a minimum of two and a maximum of four session chairs. SETAC strongly encourages sector diversity and please consider including students and early career researchers as co-chairs. 
  • If the proposal is submitted by a SETAC Interest Group, this should be indicated during submission

A minimum of one chair and a maximum of four chairs should accompany every session submission.

Session Review

The scientific committee of the program committee reviews session proposals and will notify session chairs.

All tentatively accepted sessions are included in the call for abstracts though they are not guaranteed a session slot in the final program until final approval by the scientific subcommittee at the end of the abstract submission period, typically in June.

Session Planning

Once the scientific committee has accepted a session proposal, the responsibilities of the session chairs include:

  • Solicit abstracts and specifically recruit for participation in the session.
  • Review all submitted abstracts in the session.
  • Provide recommendations to the scientific committee regarding the acceptance or rejection of each abstract and the best organization of the session in terms of flow of the presentations so they provide a well-rounded perspective on the topic.

Once the scientific committee has developed the program, the responsibilities of the session chairs include the following:

  • Create an outline of an engaging session including discussion points for the live discussion
  • Interact with presenters and make them feel welcome
  • Chair the session and keep time

Session Proposal


  • Chairs submit session proposals.


  • Chairs will be notified about tentative acceptance of their session proposal. Some chairs may be asked to work with others and will have the opportunity to resubmit proposal.


  • Abstract submission opens.


  • Chairs recruit designated abstracts
  • Chairs start reviewing abstracts submitted to their session and providing recommendations to the scientific committee.


  • General call for abstracts closes.
  • Session chairs provide recommendations to the scientific committee.
  • Session chairs plan discussion points if they are including a discussion at the end of their sessions.
  • The scientific committee reviews the submitted abstracts and prepares the meeting program.


  • SETAC sends the results of the abstract review to the presenters.
  • SETAC sends the results of the abstract review to the session chairs.

Once Sessions Are Accepted


  • SETAC posts the program online.
  • Late-breaking science abstract submission opens.
  • For planned discussions, the chairs are encouraged to use discussion points to guide their conversation, they may display them on slides. They may choose to use the meeting slide template; however, it should only be used for this purpose and not to present personal research.
  • Chairs can arrange with presenters to have them present poster highlights at a discussion slot. The chairs will have access to contact poster presenters in their sessions after the program is published. One of the chairs will need to compile 2-3 slides per poster into one power point presentation and upload it at the meeting so they can be accessed from the podium. The time slot could be referred to as poster highlights in the program if arranged in advance. It does not need to list the posters that will be highlighted. If a list of those is available well ahead of time, they might be listed in the print program or the online program. Regardless, the session will be linked in program to the poster session. Please keep us apprised of plans by emailing


  • Late-breaking science abstract submission closes.


  • SETAC sends upload link to presenters so they can upload their presentations (for online viewing).
  • Presenters prepare and submit presentations based on guidelines provided by SETAC.
  • Session chairs carefully review abstracts to their sessions. If the session includes a discussions session, the chairs make sure they have prepared an outline for the discussion.

During the Meeting

Session chairs are expected to interact with presenters in all associated session (talks, posters, and virtual only) in their sessions and make them feel welcome and included.

In-person Platform Session (Talks)

In person audience:

  • One chair should be focused on the in-person audience
  • The chair should display the pre-loaded Welcome slide a few minutes before start time.
  • The chair should introduce the talks and keep time.
  • For planned discussion time slots, the chairs are encouraged to use discussion points to guide their conversation, they may display them on slides. They may choose to use the meeting slide template; however, it should only be used for this purpose and not to present personal research.
  • For planned poster highlights time slots, chairs are expected to have arranged those with poster presenters and to have compiled 2-3 slides per poster into one power point presentation that they would then access from the podium.
  • The chair should handle questions from online audience while also making room for another chair to read questions form the virtual audience.

Chairs are expected to enforce the SETAC Code of Conduct during both the in-person and online meeting.

Scope of the Meeting

Biodiversity – It’s “Worth” Saving!

Session Tracks

1. Environmental Toxicology and Stress Response

Explores environmental toxicology and response to stress (biological, physical and chemical) in various system. Encompasses in silico and in vitro tools and methods involving adverse outcome pathway (AOP), mode of action, molecular toxicology, -omics, animal alternative testing, quantitative structural activity relationship (QSARs), high-throughput techniques and emerging approaches for statistical toxicology.

2. Aquatic Toxicology, Ecology and Stress Response

Explores ecology, ecotoxicology and response to stress of all aquatic systems, including lentic and lotic freshwater systems, estuaries, coastal and marine environments.

3. Wildlife Toxicology, Ecology and Stress Response

Covers all life forms of wildlife not strictly aquatic (amphibian, reptile, birds and mammals and other organisms) living in areas from the deserts to the tropics and everything in between.

4. Chemistry and Exposure Assessment

Comprises all aspects of chemical analysis, monitoring, fate and modeling, green chemistry and alternative chemical assessment.

5. Environmental Risk Assessment

Bridges both aquatic and terrestrial environments, and all potential stressors (physical, chemical, biological and biotechnological) with human and ecological endpoints towards the goal of integrated holistic assessment such as “One Health.”

6. Engineering, Remediation and Restoration

Addresses remediation and restoration of stressor impacted air, water, and soil and sediment, including tools for predicting, monitoring and evaluation; technologies and methods for remediation and restoration; environmental engineering; green remediation; damage assessment; and strategies for management.

7. Policy, Management and Communication

Includes all aspects of science application in policy or regulations and management (regulatory science), as well as science commination to stakeholders in diverse audiences.

8. Systems Approaches

Uses cross- and trans-disciplinary approaches seeking to address complexity and large-scale issues by applying and integrating concepts such as life cycle assessment, sustainability, ecosystem services, impact assessment and environmental economics. Topics include regional and watershed-scale environmental management, climate change, resiliency and other related areas.