SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
2 November 2017
Volume 18 Issue 11
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Senior Resource Group Spotlight: Ruth Hull

Matt Moore, SETAC North America Senior Resource Group

This month, the Senior Resource Group highlights the accomplishments and career of Ruth Hull, Senior Scientist at Intrinsik Corp. in Toronto. Hull has worked in the fields of toxicology and risk assessment for more than 25 years, the past 18 years with Intrinsik. She got her start thanks to networking at the 1991 SETAC North America meeting in Seattle. This first job, a six-month contract with the State of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, came about from someone she met around the posters. Her second job, with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, resulted from a meeting with Glenn Suter at a student mentoring event. After a few years in the U.S., she got homesick, returned to Toronto to join a consulting firm, and has been working in ecological risk assessment and ecotoxicology at sites around the world ever since. Hull has never missed a SETAC North America annual meeting since her first one in 1991!

Hull received her B.Sc. in biology with a chemistry minor from the University of Waterloo in 1989. She initially wanted to be the next great geneticist like David Suzuki, but an undergraduate work-term isolating DNA and running southern blots soon cured her of that desire. It was a third-year toxicology course taught by George Dixon that got her excited, which shows that a great professor can truly inspire their students. Hull ended up doing her M.Sc. in Ecotoxicology at Dixon’s alma mater, Concordia University in Montreal, studying the reproductive effects of lead on fish, setting her on her current career path. For the past 18 years, her work has remained focused primarily on metals, although related to ecological risks and impacts in both the aquatic and terrestrial environments. Her most recent work project is the management of a large-scale restoration project around a smelter. Hull is looking forward to semi-retirement in the coming few years, transitioning from the stresses of consulting to helping others. If you want to get her really animated, ask her about her mindfulness practice.

Hull has been an active member of SETAC for many years. She spent more than 10 years on the SETAC North America Membership Committee and has contributed to the Regional Chapters Committee, Global Science Committee, Awards Committee and served as a member of the SETAC North America Board of Directors from 2011–2014. Additionally, she has helped organize several annual meetings, including the SETAC North America annual meeting in 2000 and the world congress in 2016, through her work on varoious program committees, and she is currently looking forward to supporting the SETAC North America annual meeting in 2019 in Toronto. Hull co-chaired a Focused Topic Meeting on “Pollutants in the Environment: Fate and Toxicity,” which took place in 2011 in Merida, Mexico, and the technical workshop “SETAC/SER Technical Workshop Restoration of Impaired Ecosystems: An Ounce of Prevention or a Pound of Cure?” in 2014. Hull also has been active with the Laurentian SETAC Chapter, including serving on the Board of Directors from 2003–2005. She is currently the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the SETAC North America Endowment Fund. In 2013, she was recognized with the SETAC Eugene Kenaga Membership Award.

Hull stresses that she has benefited from a series of outstanding mentors throughout her career – all SETAC members. From her time as a graduate student to the present day, SETAC members have encouraged creative thinking and problem solving, shared their insights, and provided opportunities for her to learn and thrive. She is sincerely grateful to them all for this and for their friendship. Recognizing the value of mentorship, Hull likes to pay it forward to students, people early in their career and also those who have been around for a while. We all can benefit from others’ insight and experience, a little support and from genuine friendship. These are available in abundance within SETAC.

The mission of the Senior Resource Group is to identify, cultivate and mentor future SETAC leaders as well as document the society’s history and evolution of environmental science. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Senior Resource Group, or if you simply want more information about the group, please contact Laura Swanson.

Author’s contact information: Matt.Moore@ars.usda.gov

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