31 Aug 2023

Honoring SETAC Europe 2023 Award Winners

Marie-Hélène Enrici, Solvay

SETAC is keen to honor and recognize outstanding contributions of individuals or groups of people to environmental science by means of the SETAC Europe awards program.

In addition to the two awards that are given to young scientists during the SETAC Europe annual meeting for the best platform and the best poster presentations, other applications can be submitted throughout the year to four other awards:

  • The “Noack Laboratorien Outstanding Science Career Award” recognizes scientists with a significant career path
  • The “Rifcon Early Career Scientist Award” supports the career development of promising scientists
  • The “Young Scientist Life Cycle Assessment Award” recognize an exceptional achievement by a young scientist in the field of life cycle assessment
  • The “Scienced-Based Risk Communication Award” supports science-based risk communication, as opposed to emotion-based on sensation-based communication, to avoid confusion between hazard and risk, and to avoid speculation not supported by data, not only in scientific publications but also in the media and on social media

The awards and the rules to apply are available on the SETAC website. The applications are reviewed by the awards committee according to predetermined rules and scorecards and after discussions and alignment within the committee. If you wish to contribute to SETAC’s activities and extend your network, feel free to contact the SETAC Europe awards committee chair for participation in the evaluation of the candidates and in the work program development.

The winners of the 2023 SETAC Europe Awards were celebrated at the latest SETAC Europe annual meeting in Dublin. We are grateful to the actual awards committee members for their commitment to the evaluation process and to all SETAC’s annual meeting participants for their contribution to the evaluation of the best platform and poster presentations.

The first award we celebrated during the SETAC Dublin opening ceremony was the NOACK Laboratorien Outstanding Science Career Award, which was bestowed to Rolf Altenburger.

Rolf Altenburger

Altenburger is the current Scientific Director at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and an experienced environmental scientist. He had the privilege of pursuing a prolific research career spanning ecotoxicology, mode of action analysis, algal physiology and environmental risk assessment. With leadership roles at UFZ and RWTH Aachen University, and recognition from prestigious organizations like the OECD, he was instrumental in advancing scientific understanding, particularly in mixture toxicology. Altenburger is willing to share his expertise and experience and has therefore invested in mentoring future scientists and shaping policy discussions. He has been involved in SETAC’s activities through numerous publications and participation. The SETAC Noack Laboratorien Outstanding Science Career Award acknowledges his multifaceted contributions to environmental science and underscores his commitment to a sustainable future.

Johannes Raths

At the same opening ceremony in Dublin, Johannes Raths received the “Rifcon Early Career Scientist” Award, acknowledging promising research work in the area of bioaccumulation and biotransformation processes in aquatic invertebrates. The young scientist was educated in environmental chemistry, aquatic toxicology and climate topics at German universities, Bielefield, Aachen, and Swedish research groups, Climate Impact Research Centre. He started his Ph.D. at the Swiss aquatic research center Eawag, combining his favorite topics of environmental pollution and climate change. With a Ph.D. thesis titled “Bioaccumulation of Polar Organic Contaminants in Aquatic Invertebrates: Impact of Temperature, Uptake Pathways and Spatial Distribution,” his research displays a clear connection between toxicokinetics and water temperature. Raths is now starting a post-doc position at the Department of Environmental Chemistry at Eawag.

While asking what this award represented to him, Raths responded, “I do this research work because I love it and draws my full interest; however, sometimes you wonder about the significance of what you are doing. For me, receiving this award was a profound recognition and validation of the dedication and expertise I have put into my work. Furthermore, it opened many doors for valuable networking opportunities and collaborations. Finally, this allows me to contribute even more effectively to addressing urgent challenges at the intersection of climate change and environmental health.”

The last SETAC Europe recipient was Dieuwertje Schrijvers, who was recognized with the LCA Young Scientist Award.

Dieuwertje Schrijvers

Schrijvers obtained her bachelor’s degree in science and innovation management and her master’s degree in energy science from Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Her first experience with life cycle analysis (LCA) was during her master's thesis, which she conducted at the Chemical Engineering School in Clermont-Ferrand, France. In 2013, she started her doctorate research on the topic of recycling and allocation in LCA at the University of Bordeaux, in the Cyvi group at the Institute of Molecular Sciences (ISM), under the supervision of Guido Sonnemann and in collaboration with the company Solvay. After obtaining her Ph.D., Dieuwertje worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Cyvi group on various topics, among which LCA, circularity and raw material criticality assessment, mostly in the context of international research projects. Since 2021, Dieuwertje has been working as a project manager at the French expertise and innovation start-up WeLOOP. This is an opportunity to further pursue her previous research activities and implement results in science-based consultancy services. She combines methodological development (within the context of Horizon Europe and EIT Raw Material projects) with responding to company needs, such as the development of methodological guidance and LCA analyses, as well as the organization of trainings and conferences.

According to Dieuwertje, the SETAC award is a recognition of the LCA community and of her contribution to the research in this area. But more importantly, it shows that the question of “how to apply allocation in LCA” does not have a definitive consensual answer yet. The choice of an allocation procedure has a significant effect on the outcome of many LCA studies, across all impact categories, and should therefore be well justified. Several practitioners are considering allocation as a “side-topic” whereas good practices should be followed and the consequences of final results evaluated. The SETAC award may contribute to put the important topic of allocation again in the spotlights and to motivate LCA practitioners to make a well-informed decision about allocation procedures.

Read more about the awards program and join us in congratulating all current SETAC Europe Award winners. Applications for the SETAC Europe Awards 2024 will open this September.

Author's contact: [email protected]