SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
13 July 2017
Volume 18 Issue 7
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SETAC Brussels Reflections – Environmental Quality Through Transdisciplinary Collaboration

Ilse Schoeters, Karel De Schamphelaere, Gertie Arts and Jana Asselman, Local Organizing Committee

  • The 27th SETAC Europe Annual Meeting was a success at many levels. There were 2,079 participants from 60 countries. Almost 60% of the participants came from the academic world, around 20% from business and about 10% from consultancy and government each. Students were well represented, constituting one out of four participants.

The program committee successfully introduced a number of changes to make the meeting more fruitful and efficient:

    opening ceremony, SETAC Brussels
    Meeting attendees enjoyed the shortened opening and closing ceremonies, allowing for more networking opportunities.
  • Special sessions were organized with external societies, thereby attracting new participants and creating a platform for cross-fertilization of ideas
  • The opening and closing ceremonies were shortened, which allowed more opportunities for networking and socializing
  • New activities such as the Job Event and the Art & Science Exhibition were organized and presented at this conference to offer participants additional ways to engage each other.
  • Special efforts were put in place to reduce the environmental footprint and plastic waste of the annual meeting (e.g., veggie day, reusable water bottles, etc.).
  • The Horizon Scanning Project Stakeholder Roundtable was held with attendees to discuss the priority research areas identified by the SETAC membership, which led to a very constructive dialogue, and outcomes of this event will be reported on in more detail in a future SETAC Globe article

Scientific and Business Program

Guided by the theme of the meeting, the program committee made significant efforts to create a truly transdisciplinary and successful meeting. Of the 81 sessions, several were multi-disciplinary, and seven sessions were jointly organized with other societies.

The annual meeting offered many participants a chance for networking and creating new research and business opportunities. This is reflected in the high number of exhibitors (54) and satellite meetings (75).

Keynote Speakers

An impressive line-up of excellent keynote speakers addressed different aspects of the meeting theme. Lora Fleming, Professor at the University of Exeter, UK, gave a truly transdisciplinary presentation about the importance of our oceans to maintain and improve human health. Geert Dancet, Executive Director of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), Finland, reflected on the main achievements of the REACH regulation and the scientific (environmental) challenges and research needs identified from working with this chemicals legislation. Michele Galatola, Product Team Leader of DG Environment, European Commission, gave a captivating presentation on the latest developments and policy implications related to the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint initiative.

Science Slam

The science slam remains a winner. One of the largest meeting rooms was again filled to capacity. Of the three performances, Òscar Aznar Alemany from IDEA-CSIC, Spain, won the prize for best performance with his hilarious presentation on “Flame retardants in seafood.”

Art and Science Exhibition at SETAC Brussels
The art and science exhibition was a first for any SETAC Europe meeting, enjoyed by many meeting attendees.

Art & Science Exhibition

An art and science exhibition was organized, a first of its kind at SETAC Europe. Artists from local art schools, inspired by presentations of local SETAC members, exhibited more than 20 artworks, which ranged from witty and ingenious to abstract and very detailed. It turned out to be a very interesting, out-of-the-box experiment. We hope you enjoyed it!

Job Event

The Local Organizing Committee and the SETAC Europe office organized the first Job Event at SETAC Brussels as part of a group of initiatives to make the last day of the meeting more attractive. Twelve companies presented themselves to a group of 30 graduating students, followed by “speed dating” sessions, in which students got three minutes to introduce themselves to each company and talk about job opportunities. While three minutes may seem short, a first impression can be made in 30 seconds. In preparation for the meeting, students were asked to submit a resume and got a list of the companies that would be present in return. Hence, both students and companies were well prepared to meet face-to-face. All participants were very enthusiastic at the end of the event, and some job offers were already put on the table. The first SETAC Job Event was definitely a success. It highlighted the advantages of being part of the SETAC community. Company or industry professionals had access to the best and brightest young graduates and students in environmental science. Students had the chance to meet future employers and key industries in the field of environmental science in a comfortable atmosphere, giving them a clear advantage compared with other applicants.

Reflections from the Meeting Co-chairs

Organizing a SETAC Europe annual meeting is an enriching experience. The organization of an event at this scale and scope would not be possible without a dedicated team of people, many of whom are volunteers, who have never worked together before but are committed to the science and to working together towards a successful meeting. Finding the right people is a key factor to success.

The meeting co-chairs would therefore like to thank the members of the Scientific Committee, the Local Organizing Committee and last but not least the superheroes of the SETAC Europe office for all the work that went into organizing this meeting.

We hope you enjoyed the meeting!

Relive the best moments of this meeting by viewing pictures of it on the SETAC Flickr account.

Authors’ contact information: Ilse.Schoeters@riotinto.com, Karel.DeSchamphelaere@UGent.be, gertie.arts@wur.nl and  Jana.Assesman@UGent.be

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