Executive Directors' Corner
Greg Schiefer, SETAC North America
Thanks to all who attended our 31st Annual Meeting in Portland last month! Our attendance was right at 2,300 making it almost the same as the registration numbers for our Montreal meeting in 2007 and the second biggest meeting since the last time we met in Portland in 2004. It was a great meeting because of the exemplary efforts of the SETAC staff and the Program Committee headed up by Kim Anderson and Bill Stubblefield. I’d also like to publically thank those attendees who agreed to help us avoid a potentially large attrition penalty at the Portland Hilton and Executive Tower by switching their reservation to this property. We were successful in avoiding the penalty (just barely) and the hotel staff was amazed at the extent to which our participants were willing to go to help us. In many ways SETAC is a big family and I think our willingness to help each other out is unique among professional societies. The meeting blog coordinated by our Scientific Affairs Manager, Bruce Vigon, is also available and has recently been updated and technical summaries from session chairs will be provided in future issues of the SETAC Globe.
The evaluation of the Portland meeting is ongoing now and I hope all attendees will help us improve future meetings by participating in the survey. The survey link should have been sent to you but if you didn’t get it you can provide your input here http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/portlandannual . We do pay close attention to your comments but it is amazing how divergent opinions can be about things that are liked or disliked about our meetings. Look for improvements in the Boston meeting based on majority opinions about changes to be implemented or retained (e.g., the 5-minute breaks between platform presentations were remarkably well received and likely will be retained for future meetings).
From almost every committee and advisory group meeting that I attended in Portland, it was clear that profile information collection and sharing among members is one of our biggest needs. This will be a focus for us next year but our existing system for this is too cumbersome and too inflexible. A cleaner, clearer profile maintenance module is planned as the basis for this enhanced personal interest and expertise information sharing.
Next year will also bring some new opportunities for you to participate in SETAC North America-sponsored focused topic meetings. The first will be a Gulf Oil Spill Response and Effects meeting planned for 26-28 April at Pensacola Beach in Florida. With this meeting, we hope to provide a forum for scientists and engineers to develop science-based recommendations for improving oil spill response, control techniques, management, and assessment. We envision a large-scale (~200 participants), three-day meeting that includes a combination of plenary and breakout groups. The current idea is to structure this meeting on two major tracks: 1) effects assessment, including deepwater biotic effects on less studied communities such as corals, and 2) environmental science input to technology development and deployment. Watch for a call for abstracts early next year and additional details about the meeting, which incidentally will allow us to provide a positive economic impact for our local beach community (and will give you a good excuse to visit our beautiful beaches at a great time of year for us).
The second focused topic meeting that we are planning is Pollutants in the Environment: Fate and Toxicity that will be held 25-27 August in Mérida,México. This meeting is being planned in conjunction with the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) to coincide with their World Conference that will also occur in Mérida. Four days of meeting are planned that will include short courses, platform/poster presentations, plenary speakers and a special symposium conducted with SER on oil spill remediation and impacts assessment. Planned plenary and session topics include 1) transboundary pollution and research collaboration, 2) equilibrium partitioning approach to assessing toxicity of chemicals in sediments, 3) marine and estuarine ecotoxicology, and 4) multi-tiered bioindicators for investigating pollutant impacts.
And of course we are also looking forward to another great annual meeting in Boston next year so put 13-17 November on your calendars now. Session proposal submissions are open now through 1 February at http://meetings.setac.org/index.php?active_path_id=31.
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