SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
15 December 2016
Volume 17 Issue 12
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Get To Know the New Members of the SETAC North America Board of Directors

John Toll, Vice President, SETAC North America

Too many SETAC members aren’t aware of the opportunities that go with getting involved in SETAC leadership roles or even how to go about doing it. If you know your current leaders, then you know people who are eager to help you unlock these opportunities for yourself.

The SETAC North America (SNA) Board of Directors wants to spotlight some of the people who are working for you. This month’s article focuses on the new members of the SNA Board. In future issues of the Globe, we’ll spotlight other interest group, committee, North America Student Advisory Council (NASAC) and SNA Board members.

We want you to know who to call or write to if you have ideas that you want to see brought to fruition through SETAC or if you aspire to a leadership role yourself.

Sarah Bowman
Sarah Bowman

Sarah Bowman is a name you might recognize.  It wasn’t long ago that Sarah served as an ex officio member of the SNA Board as the NASAC Chair.  Now Sarah is a young professional representing all of the North American members of SETAC but still with a focus on our student and early career members. She’s passionate about improving the SETAC experience for recent graduates and early career professionals, and focused on the issue of how to help students stay active in SETAC as they adopt early career roles.  This is a career stage when people find it hard to explain to their employers what SETAC can do for them and why they should stay actively involved. Because of the opportunities that she found by serving on NASAC, Sarah says that she made friends and found colleagues from around the world who have become part of her “extended family.”  Sarah now works for the State of Michigan. She says, “Most of my optimism and perseverance comes from years of being a diehard Cleveland sports fan. I'm also a Buckeye that's learning to call Michigan home.” Working for state government is another situation where many professionals, especially young professionals but even those more established in their careers, find it hard to stay involved in SETAC.  Sarah’s first government job was testing water for a county health department. Since then, she’s worked for another county, a city, the federal government and now as a state toxicologist. As a result, she has worked at all levels of government, from a local town in Ohio to the federal government in Washington, D.C.  So, if you’re a young professional or government employee trying to figure out how to make SETAC work for you, Sarah is somebody you should get to know!

Jim Lazorchak
Jim Lazorchak

Jim Lazorchak ran for the SNA Board because, in his words, “Hopefully an old, blue-collar biologist/toxicologist/ecologist can provide wisdom to our direction of SNA.”  His blue-collar career path started when he was accepted to study for his Ph.D. without any financial assistance, which resulted in him landing a part-time temporary job at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) Region 6 office. It took him 10 years to get his Ph.D. because he ended up working permanently in water quality standards on development of whole effluent toxicity policy. From there, he moved on to national monitoring programs, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), superfund and enforcement in two USEPA regions (region 6 in Dallas and region 8 in Denver), and 13 years later, he moved to USEPA Research and took over the Newtown Fish Toxicology Program in Cincinnati.

Jim has made the most of his SETAC membership. He has served as a board member and president for the Ohio Valley Chapter. He is an active member of several interest groups. He has co-chaired sessions in emerging issues such as ecotoxicogenomics, pharmaceuticals in the environment, personal care products, contaminated sediments, nanomaterials, harmful algal blooms (HABs), salinity and resource extraction impacts. Jim credits his active involvement in the Pharmaceutical Interest Group, alongside SETAC members from business, with building bridges that led to USEPA mesocosm study data influencing a Triclosan phase-out decision. In his spare time, Jim organized and participated in short courses on ecotoxicogenomics at the Sydney World Congress and the SETAC Europe meeting in The Hague. He credits all of these activities with making him a better researcher and a more committed SETAC contributor. If that’s not enough, Jim’s also committed to helping upcoming scientists in the U.S. and around the globe to get their research out. So, if you want to learn how to get the most out of your SETAC membership, Jim is someone you should get to know! By the way, in his spare time Jim’s an avid bicyclist, and true to his blue-collar persona, has worked in a bike shop part-time for the past 20 years.

Teresa Norberg-King
Teresa Norberg-King

Teresa Norberg-King is truly committed to SETAC. She served on the SNA Board of Directors several years ago and is back for her second tour. Her commitment is driven by SETAC’s core strength – our diverse membership and commitment to collaborative problem solving across sectors. Keeping with that theme, Teresa talked about her experience with educational training conducted through the Whole Effluent Toxicity Program. Teresa says that SETAC’s diversity and tripartitism were important reasons for the success of this training program. She’s watched SETAC become a highly successful forum for interdisciplinary communication among environmental scientists. She credits SETAC with playing a central role in keeping her aware and connected to some of the best science and scientists in the world.  She says that SETAC has allowed her to develop long-term collaborations and friendships that have been and continue to be instrumental in her career.

Teresa credits her mentor and supervisor at USEPA with giving her opportunities to present at SETAC annual meetings as an undergraduate. She says that this instilled the feeling that we all need to “pay it forward” and help others with mentoring opportunities. One of Teresa’s memorable SETAC experiences came one year when she volunteered for the Program Committee. She was assigned the task of attending the Student/Mentor Dinner and paying the DJ at the end of the after-dinner dance party. Not a bad duty! She says that it was during that party she formulated a plan to develop a more formal student program. That plan led her to propose to the SNA Board the idea of establishing a Student Activities Committee (SAC). If you don’t know where that’s led, then you need to meet NASAC’s chair and vice chair, David Dreier and Alex MacLeod. You can read more about them below. 

Teresa works with USEPA’s lab in Duluth, Minnesota. You might not know that she’s a Minnesota native. She grew up in a big Swedish–American family, raising prize-winning Golden Guernsey cattle. She used to show her own cows at local dairy shows and the Minnesota State Fair, and she compete in sewing and cooking 4-H events. Her family still celebrates Christmas Eve with Swedish meatballs and lutefisk. She says e-mail her if you want to know what that is! 

Jeff Steevens
Jeff Steevens

Jeff Steevens is passionate about pursuing innovation in the way we solve problems by applying existing tools in a new way or recently discovered tools to solve a problem. He appreciates SETAC for being a great place to bring together diverse groups of people to identify these opportunities. He wants to help make that happen, and the SNA Board is eager to unleash his creativity.  Early in Jeff’s career he worked at the US Geologic Survey Columbia Environmental Research Center (CERC).  More recently, he’s been with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  This year (23 years later), he took a position at CERC and joined the USGS again! When I asked Jeff what he valued about SETAC, he talked about the many opportunities to develop personal relationships with other scientists. These relationships are incredibly valuable as you develop your career and solve environmental problems. He also mentioned the reward of volunteering. He talked about co-chairing the 2009 SNA annual meeting in New Orleans, which he called a great opportunity to do something for SETAC and work with a great group of people to develop the technical and social programs. He highly encourages other members to get involved so they can get as much out of their SETAC memberships as he’s gotten out of his. 

I asked Jeff about what he does when he’s not working. He told me a story about duck hunting in Mississippi, where he had a close encounter with an alligator. The alligator snapped at him, grabbed his boat paddle and refused to let go! You’ll have to ask Jeff for the rest of the story.

David Dreier and Alex MacLeod are this year’s NASAC Chair and Vice Chair respectively, and as such they serve actively on the SNA Board. As we already mentioned when we introduced Sarah, the NASAC chair serves as an ex officio member of the SNA Board. The vice chair serves too, spending his or her first year learning the ropes before taking the reins as NASAC’s ex officio SNA Board member in year 2.

David Dreier
David Dreier

David is a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida. You might remember his name from the closing plenary session of the SETAC World Congress in Orlando, where he was recognized twice. David won outstanding Ph.D. student presentation awards in both the platform and poster categories! David says that one of his career goals is to increase the utility of -omics, high-throughput screening and other types of “big data” for environmental monitoring and ecological risk assessment. David attended his first SETAC meeting as an undergraduate, where he met one of his current dissertation supervisors, Nancy Denslow. That was at the 34th SNA annual meeting in Nashville, back in 2013. David’s come a long way in a short period of time. One of David’s goals during his time on the SNA Board is to increase student participation in SETAC’s interest groups. Student members are sometimes reluctant to join interest groups because they’re not sure that they are welcome. David hopes to change that impression, “Our student members are the future of SETAC, and participation in interest groups is a great way for them to get actively involved, making connections with people and ideas that will help launch their careers.” If you’re a student and interests group intrigue you, or if you are an interest group leader seeking to build bridges with our student members, then David is somebody you should get to know!

Alex MacLeod
Alex MacLeod

Alex became actively involved in SETAC in 2014, when he was approached at the SNA 35th Annual Meeting in Vancouver by a friend from a previous SETAC meeting. She told him about an opening for a liaison position between the Membership Committee and NASAC. The thought of working on a SETAC committee hadn’t occurred to Alex. In his words, “As a student, I did not think I would be wanted or even allowed to join interest groups or committees.” He found out that nothing could be further from the truth. This chance meeting sparked his intensive involvement in SETAC and led to his recent election as vice chair for NASAC for 2017 and NASAC chair in 2018. Alex says, “My circuitous path to graduate school and involvement in the society was due to a handful of people – mentors, advisers and students – giving me the confidence and direction to pursue my scientific career through SETAC. I want this to become a common theme among young students, helping them rise to their potential that they may not realize they have.”

Outside of SETAC, Alex is a passionate volunteer and advocate for the non-profit cancer organization Beat Liver Tumors. He has been working with this group for more than 10 years, participating in a series of Congressional meetings to educate representatives about cutting-edge science and early detection methods and what they can do to save lives and increase quality of life for those afflicted. 

One last thing you should know about your NASAC leaders: David plays sax and Alex piano. Jam session in Minneapolis?

Author’s contact information: JohnT@windwardenv.com

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