27 Sep 2023

Meet the North America Chemistry Interest Group: Enhancing Environmental Chemistry Through Science, Awards and Outreach

Jonathan K. Challis, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Natalia Soares Quinete, Florida International University; and Shira Joudan, University of Alberta

Within SETAC, the Chemistry Interest Group (Chem IG) plays a pivotal role in promoting the advancements and contributions of environmental chemistry. The mission of the Chem IG is to bring environmental chemistry-related programming to SETAC members and enhance the impact of SETAC science. Their mission is fuelled by three major initiatives that our group works towards each year related to science, awards and outreach.


One of the primary objectives of the group is to provide a platform for environmental chemists to share their cutting-edge research and insights. To achieve this, they organize and sponsor scientific sessions at the SETAC North America (SNA) annual meetings. In 2023, Chem IG committee members were involved in organizing three sessions at the SETAC North America 44th Annual Meeting, which will be held from 12–17 November in Louisville, Kentucky.

  1. Advances to Address Challenges in Non-targeted Analysis for Environmental Risk: Natalia Soares Quinete, Juliane Brown, Gabrielle Black, and Ruth Marfil-Vega
  2. Environmental Fate of Organic Contaminants: Kinetics, Mechanisms, Transformation Products and Application of High-Resolution-Accurate Mass Methods: Shira Joudan, Amanda Brennan, Carrie McDonough, Kevin Stroski
  3. Identifying PFAS Sources Near and Far: Lisa Rodenburg, Staci Capozzi, Theresa Guillette, James McCord

In addition to scientific sessions, the Chem IG has developed chemistry-focused professional development courses for SETAC North America annual meetings and organized ET&C special issues in order to provide the broader environmental chemistry field a venue to share their research. Chem IG members helped organize the "Advances in Methodology and Applications of Nontargeted Analysis in Environmental Monitoring" special issue, published in 2022, and guest editors and Chem IG leaders Carrie McDonough, Shira Joudan, Xiaomeng Wang and Natalia Soares Quinete are currently working on a special issue titled “Transformation of Environmental Contaminants: Uncovering Reaction Mechanisms, Identifying Novel Products, and Understanding Environmental Implications.”


The Chem IG organizes and adjudicates two chemistry-specific awards for students and principal investigators, meant to both foster student talent within SETAC and recruit researchers and PIs from outside of SETAC. These awards acknowledge outstanding achievements, talent and new science that will help ensure a bright future for environmental chemistry within SETAC.

Expanding Chemistry in SETAC Award

The goal of this award is to showcase cutting-edge environmental chemistry research in focus areas of interest to SETAC North America by recognizing a speaker who can offer an exciting and unique perspective on one or more of the research areas identified by the Chem IG. Award winners are individuals who excel in the field of environmental chemistry but are currently not members of SETAC.

We are excited to announce Teng Zeng as this year’s recipient!

Headshot of Teng Zeng

Zeng is an Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Syracuse University. His research group is broadly interested in studying naturally occurring and anthropogenically produced organic molecules in environmental systems and their potential impacts on ecosystem functioning and public health. As part of the COVID-19 New York State Wastewater Surveillance Network, his group developed a large-volume injection method with liquid chromatography–high-resolution mass spectrometry for suspect and nontarget screening of pharmaceuticals and lifestyle chemicals in wastewater. Zeng’s talk, “Target and Nontarget Screening of Psychoactive and Lifestyle Substances: An Exploratory Study to Support the New York State Wastewater Surveillance Network,” will be presented during the SETAC North America 44th Annual Meeting at 1:30 p.m. on 15 November in Louisville.

The Chemistry Student Excellence Award

SETAC and the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Environmental Chemistry (ENVR) have jointly developed this program to expand professional, scientific and networking opportunities for student members of both societies. The winning SETAC student receives an invitation of their choice to either the spring or fall ACS meetings to present research in an ENVR-sponsored session, complimentary registration courtesy of ACS, and US$1,000 to defray expenses. This award is meant to inspire young researchers to excel in their field by expanding their networks and enabling new collaborations. Last year’s winner from the SETAC North America 43rd Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh was Moala Keshei Bannavti, a PhD candidate at the University of Iowa, for her presentation “Airborne Polychlorinated Biphenyl Remediation in Schools: Room-to-Room Differences, Source Emissions and Community Engagement.”


The Chemistry Interest Group Social has become an annual tradition at SETAC North America Annual Meetings. This meetup provides opportunities for all SETAC members associated with environmental chemistry in one way or another (chemists and non-chemists!) to connect on a more personal level. The event is always well-attended and attracts a great mix of people from academia, business and government, including students. The Chem IG has had many diverse and loyal sponsors over the years and are extremely grateful for their support of this event. For those attending the Louisville meeting, please look out for further details of the Chem IG social!

Group photo in a relaxed setting.

The Chemistry Interest Group remains steadfast in its dedication to advancing environmental chemistry within SETAC. We invite any SETAC members who share an interest in environmental chemistry and the role it plays in SETAC science to get involved by joining our group on the SETAC website. Our yearly all-members meeting held at the SETAC North America annual meeting is a great way to find out more, get involved and give suggestions. Check out the SETAC North America 44th Annual Meeting program for final confirmation of the date, time and room number.

For further information on how to get involved, please contact the current Chem IG Chair, Shira Joudan.

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