03 Aug 2023

SETAC Prairie Northern Chapter Annual General Meeting 2023

Catherine Roberts, Matthew Schultz, Markus Hecker, Markus Brinkmann, University of Saskatchewan; Jonathan K. Challis, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

This year, SETAC Prairie Northern Chapter (PNC) was delighted to host its first in-person meeting since 2019. The meeting, themed “New Approaches to Chemical Assessment for the 21st Century,” was hosted at the University of Saskatchewan’s Marquis Hall Events Centre, 18–20 June. The 14th annual PNC annual general meeting (AGM) also coincided with the 40th anniversary of the University of Saskatchewan’s Toxicology Centre, which was marked by special programming on 20 June, including a special session highlighting the Toxicology Centre’s history and achievements, tours of the USask campus and an evening banquet.

The conference kicked off on Sunday with two workshops, “From Sampling to Sequencing: A Comprehensive Introduction to (e)DNA Metabarcoding,” hosted by Milena Esser and Phil Ankley, and “Developing and Applying Adverse Outcome Pathways,” hosted by Markus Hecker and Markus Brinkmann. The workshops were attended by roughly 30 participants, with many enthusiastically partaking in both courses.

The PNC AGM welcomed 79 attendees, 24 of which were from academia, eight from government, 10 from industry, and 37 students who presented an outstanding scientific program with 17 student platforms and 25 posters presented throughout Monday and Tuesday. Presentations covered a broad range of topics of toxicological importance, including pesticide toxicity, environmental impacts of mining activity, and investigation into emerging contaminants of concern. We congratulate all presenters for their excellent and exciting presentations. In addition to these presenters, PNC was fortunate to host three renowned keynote speakers. Monday’s first keynote was given by Hans Sanderson, titled “A Toxic-Free and Zero-Pollution Europe: The EU Chemical Strategy for Sustainability.” The afternoon’s keynote, “Working Together to Understand and Sustain a Complex Hydro-Ecological System, the Saskatchewan River Delta” was delivered collaboratively by Solomon Carriére, a scientist of lands and waters, and Tim Jardine. Tuesday’s program was led by David DeForest’s presentation, titled “An Evaluation of Site-specific Selenium Criteria for Lake Koocanusa.” 

PNC continued its long-standing tradition of partnering with the student-led organization Tox on Tap to host an evening science pub night. Sanderson spoke on “Nord Stream 1 & 2 – From Construction to Destruction” Monday evening. Sanderson described his unlikely journey as one of the team members conducting some of the original risk assessments required for approval of the Nord Steam pipelines 1 and 2, to re-assembling his team just over a decade later to try to understand the potential impacts from the mysterious and controversial pipeline explosion. The event attracted a diverse audience, including over 35 attendees, with rousing debate surrounding the political history of Europe since the First World War and how it has impacted the state of the Baltic Sea and its contaminant burden.

This AGM also marked changes within PNC leadership. Jonathan Challis became the president of the Chapter, replacing Jose Luis Rodriguez Gil who officially rotated to the role of past-president after three years at the helm. The PNC Board also saw some major changes, with four new Board members and a new student representative. Joining the Board is Julie Adams (postdoctoral fellow, IISD-ELA), Jean-Pierre Desforges (Assistant Professor, University of Winnipeg), Tracy MacDonald (Aquatic Toxicologist, Associated Environmental Consultants), and Neal Tanna (Research Scientist, InnoTech Alberta). Emily Kennedy (PhD student, USask) also joins the board as the new student representative. The full PNC leadership team can be found on our website. The PNC community would also like to acknowledge and thank Mark Hanson (past-president and board member) and Gregg Goss (past board member) for their important contributions to the chapter over the past decade plus.

The SETAC Prairie Northern Chapter's much-anticipated return to an in-person meeting was a resounding success, rejuvenating the spirit of scientific exploration and fostering meaningful connections among attendees from academia, government and the private sector. The event served as a testament to the dedication of chapter members to the advancement of environmental research and collaboration.

A conference and celebration of this magnitude would not have been possible without the generous donations of our sponsors. Sponsorship for this year’s AGM and 40th Anniversary celebrations was over $20,000, with both Innotech Alberta and FisherScientific sending representatives to join us in person. A huge thank you to all our sponsors! Congratulations to all student presenters and presentation award winners listed below!

Student Awards for Platform Presentation

Leah Dickenson accepting an award
First place: Leah Dickenson, University of Manitoba


Black Hunnie
Second place: Blake Hunnie, University of Manitoba


Ian Vander Meulen photo
Third Place: Ian Vander Meulen, University of Saskatchewan


Student Awards for Poster Presentation

Juleanne Flores accepts award
First place: Juleanne Flores, University of Saskatchewan


Samira Goldar accepts award
Second place: Samira Goldar, University of Saskatchewan


Matthew Schultz accepts an award
Third place: Matthew Schultz, University of Saskatchewan



Bronze: Ensero Solutions, University of Manitoba Stress Ecology Laboratory, Maven Water & Environment, Kilgour & Associates

Silver: Azimuth Group, CanNorth Safety, Nautilus Environmental, Cameco Corporation, University of Alberta Biological Science, University of Alberta Faculty of Science, Denison Mines, University of Saskatchewan Toxicology Centre, Environment Canada

Gold: ThermoFisher Scientific, IISD Experimental Lake Area, Shell Global Solutions, North American Metals Council, Global Institute for Water Security, Syngenta Canada Inc.

Platinum: Innotech Alberta, University of Saskatchewan Office of the Vice-President Research, University of Saskatchewan School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan Western College of Veterinary Medicine