SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
11 August 2016
Volume 17 Issue 8
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Senior Resource Group Member Spotlight: Foster Mayer

Matt Moore, SETAC North America Senior Resource Group

Foster Mayer

This month, the SETAC North America Senior Resource Group highlights the accomplishments and career of former SETAC North American President Foster “Sonny” Mayer. Mayer is now retired and consulting in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Mayer received a bachelor of science degree in biology and chemistry from Southwestern Oklahoma State University, a master of science degree in wildlife biology from Utah State University, and his Ph.D. in toxicology from Utah State University. His professional experience includes working as Research Section Leader, Research Scientist-Toxicology and Chief Biologist at the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbia National Fisheries Research Laboratory, and as Research Section Leader, Senior Scientist-Ecotoxicology and Director at the US Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf Ecology Division. He authored more than 130 papers in environmental toxicology and related areas and made over 100 technical presentations. Mayer’s research included laboratory and field studies in both freshwater and marine environments, with emphases on comparative chemical toxicity, factors affecting toxicity, fish health indicators, predictive toxicological models and environmental risk assessment, as well as comparative toxicology among endangered and non-endangered species. He also conducted international research in Russia (1978–82) and Sweden (1982–87).

Mayer is best known for his accomplishments in identifying the cause and modes of action of the broken-back syndrome in fish (with Paul Mehrle); the “Manual of Acute Toxicity: Interpretation and Data Base for 410 Chemicals and 66 Species of Freshwater Organisms” (with Mark Ellersieck); and “Risk Assessment Tools: Software and User’s Manual” (with Ellersieck). Mayer served on numerous graduate committees at the University of Missouri, University of North Texas, University of West Florida (UWF) and Utah State University, in addition to teaching Aquatic Toxicology at UWF. Mayer received 17 awards for outstanding performance in research, technical assistance and research administration, including a bronze medal for promotion of women and minorities in environmental sciences and a gold medal and the USEPA James Ackerman Award for ecological risk assessment research.

Mayer served in several capacities at different professional societies (in addition to SETAC), including editor and member of editorial boards for four scientific journals and president of the Missouri Chapter and Water Quality Section of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) . Mayer established the annual American Society of Testing and Materials Symposium on Aquatic Toxicology and Hazard Evaluation, and, in conjunction with Howard Johnson, created the AFS Water Quality Section, both precursors to SETAC. During Mayer’s presidency, SETAC’s evolution to an international society began. Mayer has been recognized for exceptional service to SETAC, receiving the Herb Ward Exceptional Service and Government Service awards, as well as having the best Ph.D. student annual presentation awards named in his honor (Foster “Sonny” Mayer Ph.D. Best Student Presentation).

The mission of the Senior Resource Group (SRG) is to identify, cultivate and mentor future SETAC leaders, as well as document the Society’s history and evolution of environmental science. If you are interested in becoming a member of the SRG, or if you simply want more information about the group, please contact Laura Swanson.

Author’s contact information: Matt.Moore@ars.usda.gov

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