SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
14 December 2017
Volume 18 Issue 12
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Message from the SETAC North America President

John Toll, SETAC North America President

I first came to the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) to deliver a paper. That was about 25 years ago. I knew very little about the organization at the time. Two of SETAC’s founding concepts were compelling to me, enough to have kept me involved since, and to now serve as president of the SETAC North America Board of Directors for the coming year:

  1. Our commitment to tripartite representation in everything we do
  2. Our focus on making a difference in the world, reflected in the trademark Environmental Quality Through Science®

John TollHow many professional societies are formed around the notion that we are here to listen to one another and serve? How many professional societies are dedicated to environmental quality through science? There’s only one: SETAC.

SETAC provides a venue for us to build relationships based on camaraderie and respect, and work with one another to solve real-world problems. That’s important. SETAC is important. 

As a place to build relationships based on camaraderie and respect, most of us agree that SETAC is a success. Yet, as a place to work with one another to solve real-world problems, SETAC has a lot of room to grow. 

As the only professional society dedicated to Environmental Quality Through Science®, with the sectoral balance needed to succeed, why does SETAC, as it approaches its 40th anniversary, find itself with room to grow? I think that globalization is the place to look to understand our current challenges. Globalizing has created tremendous new challenges and opportunities, as we’ve sought to work across vastly different cultures and economies. SETAC has stepped up to these challenges, and we will continue to step up. Yes, we’ve had growing pains, but we are healthy, strong and poised to keep growing. 

This is what drew me to get involved in SETAC governance. My top priority as North America Board president is to foster the development of SETAC as a service organization. I want SETAC to make a difference in the world, and I want it to make a difference in the careers of our members. 

This year, the SETAC North America Board is focused on capacity-building. By building capacity, we can better enable SETAC to step up to the challenges of globalization. I’m calling our efforts the three T’s:

  • The first T is talent. YOU are the talent. The Board is identifying projects that will advance our mission of making a difference in the world and in your careers. These projects will be delivered by our committees and interest groups. If you haven’t already, then we need you to join them. We’re not just asking you to get involved to help SETAC. We’re asking you to get involved because the more you do, the more doors will open for you. These are projects that you can take on, execute and with which you will succeed. 
  • The second T is treasure. Not only do you do the work of SETAC, you finance the work of SETAC too: you as members, you as contributors to the SETAC North America endowment fund, you as Sustaining Members and Global Partners. Thank you for that. As SETAC develops, our pace of progress will accelerate and acceleration requires money. While some of that money will come from our traditional base, some of it will come by expanding our base. SETAC is a service organization, and we can do more to gain the support of the broader communities we serve. This is something the Board is actively involved with.
  • A third essential T that the Board needs help with is technology. The world is changing quickly and we are all aware of the value that technology provides. Technology can help us reach new audiences in new ways. It can increase scientific transparency and reproducibility. It can increase organizational efficiencies. Technology decisions are very important to SETAC, especially in the coming years. If harnessing technology to advance the SETAC mission ignites your passion, talk to me! I’ll find a way to match up your interests with SETAC’s needs.

SETAC is much more than a place to meet and share our work with colleagues. SETAC is a global service organization, dedicated to using our knowledge of the environmental sciences to foster informed dialogues that can lead to decisions and actions that improve environmental quality worldwide. Our potential is enormous.  

During the next year, as I serve as the North America Board president, my greatest hope is that we all work together to capture our potential. Remember, we have plenty of room to grow! If you encounter barriers, talk to a Board member. We will work to break it down. Finally, if you or your organization can dig a bit deeper, please contribute to our endowment fund this giving season.

Author’s contact information: johnt@windwardenv.com

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