Charles Menzie, SETAC Executive Director

Opportunities for us to meet to share our science, our friendships, and to increase our awareness and impact are an essential part of being a scientist and a member of SETAC and our associated network. 2020 begins a new decade during in which we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and attend SETAC meetings around the world. These include the SETAC Europe 30th Annual Meeting, which will be held from 3–7 May in Dublin, Ireland, and the SETAC North America 41st Annual Meeting, which takes place from 15–19 November in Fort Worth, Texas. Regional meetings will be held in Brazil and Argentina, as will various scientific workshops in all parts of the globe. I hope to see you at one or more of these meetings. I am especially looking forward to the SETAC 8th World Congress, to be held from 6–10 September in Singapore.

David Suzuki

David Suzuki, Geneticist and host of CBC TV’s “The Nature of Things,” will share his insights at the SETAC World Congress. (Photo courtesy of CBC Television/Fred Phipps).

The scientific program is shaping up very nicely. There will be something for everyone as the World Congress embraces all of SETAC’s scientific interest areas. These range broadly from traditional chemical fate, transport, and toxicology to risk assessment, remedial engineering, communication, policy development, life cycle analyses, and addressing the threat of wildfires. Much interest centers on plastics in the environment. A fantastic lineup of plenary speakers is being assembled, including David Suzuki and leadership from the United Nations. A number of training programs are being offered along with networking events for students, members and a special Women’s Event. Because a World Congress is an international celebration, we have invited the Society of Toxicology, Society of Risk Analysis and the International Society of Exposure Sciences to join with us along with other groups central to the discourse of the future environmental and health conditions of our planet. Members of these societies and groups will receive the same consideration given to SETAC members. Abstracts are being invited for almost 80 sessions, several of which are cooperative efforts. To assist students and scientists with travel, discounts are being offered for early registration and hotel as well as travel and registration grants from various SETAC-related entities. While Singapore may seem far away for some of you, it is surprisingly easy to get there by air with non-stop flights from major cities. That ease of access is one reason why Singapore was selected for the World Congress.

Another impressive selection criteria is the emphasis Singapore places on sustainable resources. This fits nicely with the theme of the World Congress, “Global Visions for Sustainable Environmental Quality.” Singapore is hoping to showcase their sustainability initiatives to our scientists and invited guests who include environmental leaders from throughout the world. Whether it is water reclamation, land, food, building design or community services, Singapore strives for excellence in the face of resource limitations.

Singapore is a special place. I first visited in 1979 during the course of my ecological impact studies on Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian Ocean. Then, as now, Singapore served as a hub for international transport by sea and air. I had read about Singapore and imagined a bustling exotic place where many cultures came together. I was not disappointed. The Singapore I visited in 1979 was becoming the Singapore of today. The harbor was filled with ships in one of the busiest ports in the world. I toured the harbor aboard a sam pan and was struck by the diversity of vessels from all parts of the globe. And, the food courts within the city were amazing. Such a variety of foods from throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Tastes ranged from subtle citrus-rich flavors, to varied textures, to select Indian dishes that were amazingly spicy. The cultural places and temples were a wonder to see and explore. I was fortunate to visit Singapore on two recent occasions and pleased to find many of these former experiences still available. I know SETAC members will savor these, too. But there is now much more to experience and appreciate.

Whether you come alone, with a friend, a spouse or your family, Singapore is sure to delight. I will share a few insights from my experience along with recommendations I received from colleagues in Singapore:

Marina Bay Sands venue for the SETAC World Congress provides an amazing view of adjacent waterways and city sights. The infinity pool at the hotel is bound to be a visionary experience. Please inquire with SETAC about how to get the best deals on rooms.

Singapore is not only a destination in its own right but a place from which to launch side trips to other Asia-Pacific destinations. There is much to see and experience. I am intrigued by the idea of visiting Bali, a mere two and a half hours away by plane. China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, and Japan are all within easy reach and offer much to be explored. However, you will return from Singapore with many memories and insights from witnessing beautiful gardens, vast cultural dimensions, and a vision of sustainability for a populous city. This is a great step for SETAC and for each of us that journey to our 8th World Congress this coming September.

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