SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
19 November 2015
Volume 16 Issue 11
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7th SETAC Africa Conference Recap

Beatrice Opeolu and Edmund Pool, Conference Organizers

SETAC Buenos Aires
Participants at the SETAC Africa Langebaan conference

The 7th SETAC Africa Conference was held from 5–8 October 2015 at Athene Conference Centre, Club Mykonos, in Langebaan, South Africa. The venue is a coastal town approximately 130 km from Cape Town. The conference theme, “Identifying Knowledge Gaps and Research Priorities in Africa: A Pivot for Sustainable Environmental Development,” was inspired by the Global Horizon Scanning Workshop that was held during the conference.

In all, approximately 80 participants from sixteen countries attended the meeting. The colorful opening ceremony was well attended. There were two keynote speeches and two conference guest presentations given at the meeting. Stephen Klaine presented on “Aquatic Ecosystems: Challenges at Multiple Scales,” and Augustine Arukwe presented “Biomarker Approaches for Sustainable Environmental and Wildlife Health Monitoring in Africa.” These keynote speakers left indelible marks in the hearts of our participants as more African scientists are now inspired to start research in the fields of nanotechnology and molecular toxicology. Our guest speakers, Charlie Menzie and Barnett Rattner, spiced up the meeting with their presentations. Menzie’s paper was titled “Applications of Causal Analysis to Diagnose Environmental Problems,” and Rattner’s presentation addressed “An Abbreviated History of Wildlife Toxicology.”

In all, more than 100 presentations were given as either a platform or poster presentation. There were 17 scientific sessions with an average of 4 presentation per session. Six students received awards for the best three student platform and best three student poster presentations.

A very exciting activity at the meeting was the Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) course. The on-site workshop was a follow-up to the online introductory version that was delivered prior to the Langebaan meeting. The facilitators, SETAC Ecological Risk Assessment Advisory Group members, offered the training free of charge on Monday and Wednesday evening, and thirty-two delegates participated.

The SETAC Africa Global Horizon Scanning Project Workshop marked the culmination of the meeting on the last day. Selected participants that are experts in various fields in Africa spent the day prioritizing research questions for the continent. At the end, more than 20 questions were listed as priority research questions for the African continent.

This year, SETAC Africa also elected new executive and council members:

SETAC Africa Council

President
Ikechukwu Onwurah, Nigeria

Vice President
Otitoju Olawale, Nigeria

Secretary
Beatrice Opeolu, South Africa

Treasurer
Randal Albertus, South Africa

Regional Manager
Thwala Melusi, South Africa
Angela Udebuani, West/Central Africa

Council
Charles Teta, Zimbabwe
Diallo Aboudoulatif, Togo
Enoch Dankyi, Ghana

Student Representative
Kemi Iji, South Africa

Ex-Officio
Patricia Bi Asanga Fai, Cameroon

SETAC Africa

Delegates were provided with excellent networking opportunities at lunch. Conference participants had an evening of fun at the Tuesday banquet at Boesmanland Restaurant in a unique African setting. It was an evening of dining filled with music, dancing, networking and friendship among all who participated.

The Local Organizing Committee (LOC) was very pleased to host 80 participants from 16 countries, representing academia, government and business. It was encouraging to see a strong student presence, although more needs to be done to increase student participation for future meetings. The general feeling is that the meeting was great in terms of scientific content, with networking and career development opportunities that led meeting participants to a very positive experience that was informative and fun.

The conference organizers wish to thank the following:

  • Our sponsors, Rio Tinto, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and North West University
  • Jen Lynch and Sabine Barrett for setting up the SETAC Africa crowdfunding for the meeting
  • SETAC Europe, SETAC North America and SETAC Globe staff and volunteers for moral, logistic and in-kind support
  • The SETAC Ecological Risk Assessment Advisory Group led by Mary Sorensen for the online and on-site ERA training
  • Augustine Arukwe and Steve Klaine for graciously accepting to be our keynote speakers
  • ERA on-site training facilitators Barnett Rattner, Charlie Menzie, Larry Kapustka and Silke Bollmohr
  • Bryan Brooks and his team for leading the SETAC Africa Global Horizon Scanning Project Workshop
  • Bart Bosveld, Laurent Lagadic, Patricia Fai and those listed on the previous two bullets for their support before, during and after the conference
  • Members of the conference organizing committee, especially Victor Wepener and Randal Albertus for going above and beyond to ensure a successful meeting was hosted
  • Our dedicated student volunteers
  • All of our wonderful delegates from far and near, especially those that attended against all odds!

Authors’ contact information: opeolub@cput.ac.za and epool@uwc.ac.za

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