SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
18 February 2016
Volume 17 Issue 2
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Message from the SETAC North America President: New Initiatives and a Few Changes in 2016

Karsten Liber, SETAC North America President

Karsten Liber

It is hard to believe that it is February already and that I am three months into my term as SETAC North America President. Currently, I am spending a few weeks in Pensacola, Florida, so that I can get to know the SETAC North America staff and operations better and, of course, escape some of the Canadian winter!

We have several operational and strategic initiatives underway in North America that Globe readers may find interesting. Operationally, we are focused on better connecting and working with SETAC North America’s committees and advisory groups. We have asked all SETAC North America committees and groups to prepare a list of their priorities for 2016, and with some input from the board of directors, we are challenging each to accomplish their top priorities by year’s end. In addition, there are a few committees I hope to work with more closely, Career Development and Membership for example, as I believe they can play critical roles in moving SETAC North America forward.  I plan to more broadly engage the Public Outreach Committee with the North America Board of Directors on key priorities related to environmental science outreach to the general public.

Strategically, a key priority for me this year is to reach a decision on whether SETAC North America will launch a professional certification program.  If implemented, this program would provide individuals the opportunity to pursue certification in the main foci of SETAC science – environmental toxicology, environmental chemistry and ecological risk assessment.  This certification process would be knowledge- and competency-based and would offer credentials for environmental scientists comparable to that offered by the American Board of Toxicology for human health and biomedical toxicologists. We have been exploring certification for more than two years now but slowed down when projected implementation and operational costs exceeded projected revenue. We are now exploring a couple of alternate implementation options that could reduce those costs. We are also planning for a formal survey of the SETAC membership to better quantify interest in certification (from both those who would like to be certified and those who would like to employ those that are certified) and identify potential barriers to success. I will provide you with an update on these efforts in a future issue of the Globe.

There is at least one other strategic initiative that may be particularly interesting.  Many of you likely know Bruce Vigon, the SETAC North America Scienctific Affairs Manager, and are aware of the significant role he plays in the planning and execution of major SETAC science activities, such as workshops and focused topic meetings, in liaising with SETAC advisory groups, and in coordinating global initiatives such as our partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on life cycle assessment and coordination of the UNEP Mercury Working Group. What you may not know, Bruce plans to retire at the end of 2016, so we are launching a search for our next SETAC North America Scientific Affairs Manager.  This is an outstanding opportunity, if you, or someone you know, are interested in a career change.

On a personal note, I have been active in SETAC since 1987 and with the board of directors since 2012.  I can say, without reservation, the more you get involved, the more, both professionally and personally, you will get out of the society.  So, if you are not active already, consider donating some of your time to one of the many SETAC North America standing committees or advisory groups. Also, we are always looking for new ways to make SETAC more relevant to you, our members, and for new opportunities to better serve our membership.  So please feel free to send me a note if you have ideas or suggestions for how we can do that.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Author’s contact information: karsten.liber@usask.ca

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