ECOTOX 2016 Student Ambassador Update
Diogo Cardoso, Student Representative from SETAC Europe
The XIV Brazilian Congress of Ecotoxicology – ECOTOX 2016, which was held from 7–10 September in Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil, was an amazing place of learning. This meeting brought together members from academia, government and business, and students were the most representative group (70%). Participants from thirteen countries came together to learn, share their ideas and communicate their work. With an impressive 192 oral presentations and 556 posters, participants fostered a challenging discussion about the technological advances and new challenges for ecotoxicology, the central theme of ECOTOX Brazil 2016. A variety of studies were presented, from the effects of mercury in the yellow-spotted river turtle to relating biodiversity and ecotoxicology in forests; from the efficiency of water treatment to water consumption in Amazonian communities. Of the submitted 748 abstracts, ecotoxicology was the main connecting point between the studies. Presentations and discussions covered a range of topics such atmospheric ecotoxicology, groundwater ecotoxicology, ecotoxicology from lacustrine environments, estuarine and marine ecotoxicology, effluents and terrestrial ecotoxicology, the effects of organic and inorganic contaminants, new and alternative methods for risk assessment studies, biomarkers and emerging contaminants. Participants also debated interactions between air, soil and water, and analytical environmental chemistry.
For the first time, graduate students at the ECOTOX meeting hosted an environmental education activity with students from public schools with well-received, clear collaborations between the participants. The event had massive participation from both students and professionals, and reflected the interest of the scientific community in finding effective tools and approaches for matching higher-level academic knowledge with the teaching usually applied in Brazilian schools. Since students were the most representative group at ECOTOX, the success of the 12 short courses at the first day of the meeting was guaranteed. Also, the round table was a helpful, open event where the participants were able to share their experiences.
I served as the student ambassador from Europe at ECOTOX Brazil, and what most surprised me was the ease of communication between the Brazilian students and SETAC student representatives during the conference. This success of the student ambassador initiative hinged largely on the curiosity of the students at ECOTOX 2016 – experiences, knowledge and information shared both from students to SETAC representatives and vice versa. The SETAC corner also benefited from the presence of student leaders from three of SETAC’s geographic units: Gustavo Santos, the newly elected SETAC Latin America student representative, Blair Paulik, chair of the SETAC North America Student Advisory Council, and me, Diogo Cardoso, the European student representative. Jointly, the Sociedade Brasileira de Ecotoxicologia and SETAC helped us build a strong bond that paved the way for a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and experiences. The student ambassadors and I made sure their Brazilian colleagues were aware of future SETAC events and the benefit they could gain from attending. We also worked to involve new SETAC student members and encouraged them to attend future meetings. Overall, I left Curitiba with the feeling that we all – SETAC ambassadors and student attendees – contributed one more piece in the big puzzle, with new technological advances and new challenges for ecotoxicology discussed and ready for the next step. Now it's time to put them in action!
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