27 Sep 2023

Preview of the SETAC North America 44th Annual Meeting

Scott Lynn, Annual Meeting Program Committee; Ben Brammell, Asbury College

Stop horsing around and register for the upcoming SETAC North America 44th Annual Meeting! SETAC is “back to the races” this year with an in-person meeting (networking!) with a virtual component (increased inclusivity and accessibility!). The dates are 12–16 November, and the meeting program is now available. The meeting will be held in Louisville, the largest city in the beautiful bluegrass state of Kentucky. Louisville is known as the Bourbon City and is home to the world-renowned Kentucky Derby, which is also known as "The Run for the Roses" or the "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports!" So, hop back in the saddle and get ready for another fantastic SETAC meeting. 

One Environment. One Health. 

The theme of the meeting highlights the interconnectivity of the ecological and human environments. We live in a time where it is increasingly evident that human health, animal health and ecosystem health are intricately linked and interwoven together. Each is an important window into health, and studying their interconnectedness is key to fully understanding environmental health. Louisville has faced prominent and historical environmental health issues, such as Rubbertown and the Valley of the Drums, leading the charge to study health from a “One Health, One Environment” perspective. The Seal of the Commonwealth of Kentucky says “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” This could apply to environmental preservation.    


Once an industrial wasteland, Louisville's reclaimed waterfront along the Ohio River now features thousands of trees and miles of walking trails. Louisville is the home of the Kentucky Derby, which runs in May, and 2024 will see the 150th Kentucky Derby. Only a few blocks from the venue, the Kentucky International Convention Center, lies the Louisville Slugger Museum, where you can see the classic Louisville Slugger baseball bats being made. About one mile south of the convention center is the Brown Hotel, which is celebrating 100 years of memories in 2023. One such memory is the creation of Louisville’s culinary icon, The Hot Brown, which is a true Louisville tradition. The Brown Hotel marks the edge of Old Louisville, which is the largest Victorian historic neighborhood in the U.S. This neighborhood continues south for about two miles and ends at the entrance to the University of Louisville, which is one of only two Research 1 institutions in Kentucky and is the second largest university in Kentucky by enrollment. Only the University of Kentucky, in nearby Lexington, has more students. 

The venue for the meeting is the Kentucky International Convention Center, which is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance and sustainability. They have implemented cutting-edge procedures to improve recycling efforts, reduce energy use and use sustainably sourced materials for construction of new facilities. Learn more about the convention center's LEED initiatives.


Kentucky is world renowned for horse racing, with Lexington Kentucky being named the “Horse Capital of the World.” Kentucky is also known for Bluegrass music, which developed in the 1940s and is traditionally played exclusively on acoustic instruments. It has roots in traditional English, Scottish and Irish ballads as well as dance tunes, blues and jazz. Be sure to attend the Opening Reception, which will feature entertainment by Louisville’s own Bourbon Revival, a popular, local band who fuses Bluegrass with classic rock, pop and country music. If you’re willing to travel outside of Louisville, you can drive south east and visit the Sanders Café in Corbin, Kentucky, which is the location of the original Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant. KFC is the world’s most popular chicken restaurant chain with their recipe of 11 herbs and spices to make chicken that is “finger licking good.” If you travel directly south of Louisville for one hour, you will come to Hodgenville, Kentucky, home of the National Historic Park that marks the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. Only one more hour further south is Mammoth Cave National Park, which is the world’s longest known cave system. Mammoth Cave National Park has thousands of years of human history and a rich diversity of plant and animal life, earning it the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve. 

Kentucky Nature

While Mammoth Cave is stunning and spectacular, there are plenty of other natural wonders in Kentucky. Kentucky boasts some of the most beautiful wild areas in the southeastern U.S. The Daniel Boone National Forest spans 21 counties and more than 708,000 acres in eastern Kentucky, providing access to extensive pristine habitats. The Red River Gorge is a 29,000-acre preserved geological area within the Daniel Boone National Forest, where impressive cliffs and more than 150 sandstone arches may be observed. Further south, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area encompasses 125,000 acres in Kentucky and Tennessee and provides access to one of the most remote and pristine rivers remaining in the southeastern U.S. Closer to Louisville, Bernheim Forest offers a unique opportunity to observe natural areas. Just thirty minutes south of downtown Louisville, Bernheim’s 16,140 acres of preserved land are home to an array of species including rare timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus), a variety of salamander species, and as of August 2023, nine banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus), which have been spreading north into Kentucky for some time.

Kentucky possesses more miles of flowing water than any other state except Alaska and is home to one of the most diverse assemblages of freshwater organisms in the U.S., ranking in the top five for both fish and freshwater mussels (245 and 103 native species, respectively). Kentucky is also home to an impressive 57 amphibian species (35 salamanders and 22 frogs and toads), ranging in size from the impressive but elusive hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, up to 29 inches) to the diminutive four-toed salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum, less than four inches). Although extremely rare in other parts of its range the chubby, purple streamside salamander (Ambystoma barbouri) is found in greater densities in central Kentucky than anywhere else on earth and is frequently observed crossing roads on rainy nights in the cooler months.

We hope after reading this article that you have come to realize that Kentucky has so much to offer.  So come on down to Kentucky and join us for some bourbon and an Ale 8-1!  We are looking forward to seeing y’all in Louisville, Kentucky, this November! 

Author's contact: scott.g.lynn@scottglynn.com