Alexander MacLeod, University of Maryland, United States; Katharina Heye, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany; Brian Jonathan Young, National Agricultural Technology Institute, Argentina; Francesca Gissi, University of Wollongong, Australia; Sivani Baskaran, University of Toronto, Canada; and Stephanie Graves, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
In the 2016 North America student membership survey, it became apparent that students are ill-informed and occasionally intimidated about getting involved in the society as volunteers. Globally, 701 of 1,400 students (50% return) responded to the survey with 299 of the respondents being from North America. Nearly four of five students identified a lack of understanding about SETAC Interest Groups or felt that these organizations were intimidating (82%). Additionally, 67.3% of students had a lack of understanding about North America committees.
The goal of this article is to inform the students of SETAC across all Geographic Units (GUs) about the ways they can get involved and to encourage students to take the initiative to volunteer. This article is a collaboration between student leaders and members across GUs. We realized that students weren’t getting involved outside of presenting at the annual conference most likely because they did not know about the many opportunities available to them throughout the year.
It is important to note that many of SETAC’s affairs are managed through Interest Groups, liaisons, coordinators, and standing and ad hoc committees. The service that student volunteers provide supports the longevity and growth of the society. We hope this article will encourage students to get involved!
Many students may not be aware of the SETAC Interest Groups (IGs), or when they are, there may be a perception that students are unable to join IGs. This is simply not the case! In fact, we would like to strongly encourage all students to join IGs, particularly if it is aligned to their field of research. IGs provide a forum for environmental scientists with similar research interests to network and communicate, during and external to SETAC conferences. IGs can host focused topic meetings, symposia and workshops, and they can sponsor sessions at conferences.
For students, there are many benefits for joining IGs. You can develop a network within your research field; stay connected throughout the year and receive news and updates on topic meetings, symposia, workshops or special conference sessions; and access mentoring and develop leadership skills by becoming actively involved in an IG. This is a great way to expand your collegial network.
A full list of IGs, more information on the benefits, how to join and guidelines can be found on the SETAC website.
How to Join an Interest Group
Go to the SETAC website and sign in to your account, then click on “Get Involved,” then click on “Interest Groups.” From there you can select the IG of your choosing. At the top of the page, there will be a link to “Join Group.” This will provide you with email updates about the IG.
Students may not realize that joining a committee is a great way to get involved, influence events at the annual meeting and build relationships with scientists who have similar interest. Committees are often tasked with organizing events, communicating with the membership and facilitating cooperation with other committees. In the 2016 North America Student Membership Survey, 67.3% of students had a lack of understanding about North American committees, this may be the case because 68% of students indicated that they did not know how to join North American committees. Although this survey focused on North American student membership, it appears to be a common theme across GUs. We hope that this will encourage students to join a committee, as the work these committees do is crucial to maintaining a strong society and ensuring a high quality annual conference.
A full list of committees, more information on the benefits, how to join and guidelines can be found on the SETAC website.
How to Join a Committee
Go to the SETAC website and sign in to your account, click on “Get Involved,” then click on “Committees.” You can then select the preferred committee. At the top of the page, there will be contact information listed. Send an email stating your interest in joining the committee.
Student Activities Across Geographic Units
Students of SETAC Asia-Pacific recently formed the SETAC Asia-Pacific Student Advisory Council (APSAC). The council serves as a voice for SETAC students within the Asia-Pacific region and to connect students across all GUs. It consists of the chair, vice chair, secretary and representatives from each member country within Asia-Pacific. Nominations for council positions (except the chair position) will open each year shortly after the Asia-Pacific or Australasian conference. We encourage all students to get involved in APSAC. Being involved in APSAC is a great way to expand your network while learning important communication and leadership skills.
SETAC Asia-Pacific is proud to support student activities at conferences. These activities include student socials, mentoring programs and student co-chairs of conference sessions. For more information specific to the conference head to the conference website.
For more information on student activities in SETAC Asia-Pacific, or how to get involved in APSAC, contact the APSAC Chair Francesca Gissi.
In 2017, the SETAC Europe Student Advisory Council (SAC) celebrated its 10thanniversary. For 10 years, students of SETAC Europe have been standing up for their needs in the society. The SAC consists of a group of up to 10 European students, including one Chair who represents students in the SETAC Europe Council. All European students can become a member of the SAC and stand for election at the student assembly during the SETAC Europe annual meetings. The SETAC Europe annual meetings also offer a variety of student activities organized by the SAC and SETAC office. By participating in the mentorship program, student mentor lunch, lunch seminar and student assembly, students can build their SETAC network and become an active part of the society.
In order to give students a chance to experience their first conference in a non-intimidating and relaxed atmosphere, the SAC organizes the Young Environmental Scientists (YES) Meeting – a global student conference organized by students, for students. The 8th Young Environmental Scientists Meeting will take place from 5–10 February 2019 in Ghent, Belgium. Submit your abstract by 26 October!
Student activities during SETAC meetings include mate-debate and a student-mentor lunch. Currently, Latin America has two regional chapters: Brazil and Argentina. We are looking for new members from Central America and organizing student activities for the next SETAC Latin America meeting, the SETAC Latin America 13th Biennial Conference, which will be held from 15–19 September 2019 in Cartagena, Colombia. If you want to get involved, you can post onto the SETAC Latin America student Facebook page, Estudiantes de Setacla, or contacting the SETAC Latin America SAC Chair Bryan Young.
There is a lot of support for students in SETAC North America. Student activities at the annual meetings include a student-mentor dinner, student noontime seminar, student socials, mentoring programs and networking nights. There are SETAC Regional Chapters located across North America that host their own meetings and student programs. To get more information on North America Regional Chapters and on student events taking place this year in at the SETAC North America 39th Annual Meeting in Sacramento, California, visit sacramento.setac.org or contact the North America Student Advisory Council (NASAC). Check out an article in the September 2018 Globe for more details! NASAC is also producing a student guide on how to navigate SETAC Sacramento, which will be sent to your email shortly from SETAC North America.
The main way for students to get involved in SETAC North America is by joining NASAC, which was created for students to have a voice and represent student interests within SETAC North America. The council is responsible for planning and coordinating student activities, organizing student events and programs, and keeping student members updated on current news and events through several online platforms. Not to mention, it’s also a great way to get to know other students of SETAC across North America. The council is composed of elected officials consisting of a chair, vice-chair, outgoing chair, regional chapter representatives and members-at-large. Other non-elected positions include associate members such as subcommittee chairs and student liaisons to SETAC North America committees or Interest Groups. If you’d like to be involved with NASAC, there are several ways to do so. You can represent your regional chapter – this involves applying for regional chapter representative and being elected by the students in your regional chapter. There are also several one-year commitment positions within NASAC, and elections are held annually, usually shortly after the SETAC North America annual meeting. Examples of these positions include social media chair, student activities subcommittee, endowment fund liaison and science committee liaison. You may talk to the current NASAC chair, Alexander Macleod, or any current NASAC member for more information on vacant positions as well as how and when to apply. The other GUs have similar opportunities although the organization differs between SACs.
Student representatives from all GUs join SETAC World Council conference calls to represent student needs and share a student’s perspective on the global level. This not only ensures student involvement on all organizational levels of SETAC but also strengthens the bond between student representatives.
Join us, become involved, and help shape the future of SETAC!
Contact your respective SETAC student representatives:
- Alexander MacLeod (North America)
- Katharina Heye (Europe)
- Brian Jonathan Young (Latin America)
- Francesca Gissi (Asia-Pacific)
- Afolarin Ogungbemi (Africa)