Natalie Wagner, University of Manitoba

The SETAC Prairie Northern Chapter 9th Annual General Meeting and Conference was hosted by the University of Alberta from 4–5 June 2018 in Edmonton, Canada. The conference was themed “Breaking the Ice: Toxicology in Cold Climates.” Proceedings began on 4 June with a short course, “The Biotic Ligand Model: Theory, Mechanisms and Applications,” presented by Jim McGeer, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Chris Glover, Athabasca University. The course provided over 30 attendees with an overview of the Biotic Ligand Model (BLM) approach for estimating metal toxicity. The formal presentation emphasized the key physiological and geochemical factors that underpin the practical application of BLMs to toxicity in aquatic environments. This was followed by a thorough demonstration from Jim McGeer on the construction of BLMs via various online software.

After a brief evening intermission, the conference continued with the 5th Tox on Tap (ToT), hosted in the University of Alberta’s Faculty Club Lower Bar. This year, ToT was delighted to present Andrew Derocher, whose talk covered the major factors currently plaguing polar bears and related research in the North. Derocher’s talk was followed by a spirited question and answer session, which focused on science in the media and the future of toxicology in the high Arctic, allowing both the speaker and attendees to draw on their expertise.

The conference formally kicked off at the Tellus Convention Centre on 5 June with more than 60 attendees from academia, business and government. McGeer was also this year’s plenary speakers, and Rainie Sharpe, Golder Associates, and Mary Reiley, SETAC World Council Vice President, spoke throughout the day. They provided captivating insight, respectively, on:

  • Establishing Thresholds for the Effects of Inorganic Contaminants in Northern Canadian Ecosystems
  • Environmental Monitoring in Canada’s North: Though Shalt Versus Thou Should
  • SETAC North America and SETAC Global Initiatives

In addition, members from the universities of Manitoba, Lethbridge, MacEwan, Alberta and Saskatchewan gave platform presentations. They explored a diverse range of environmental toxicology issues concerning fish, mammals, amphibians and water quality. The platform presentations were followed by a wine and cheese poster social, which highlighted the current research of an additional 20 students from across the Prairie Northern region.

The conference was concluded with a banquet hosted by the University of Alberta’s Faculty Club Lower Bar. The evening featured an exceptional meal, darts, billiards and a variety of refreshments. The meal was followed by the announcement of awards for top student poster and platform presentations as follows:


Ian Gault and Mark Hanson

The awards ceremony for the conference at the University of Alberta’s Faculty Club Lower Bar. The first place platform presentation was awarded to Ian Gault, University of Alberta (left) by Mark Hanson, PNC President (right). Photo credit: Greg Goss, University of Alberta

  • First: Ian Gault, University of Alberta—Oil sands process-affected water: Toxicity attribution and evaluating ageing as a remediation strategy
  • Second: Nicole Baldwin, University of Saskatchewan—Sublethal effects of chronic exposure to chlorpyrifos on Xenopus laevis tadpoles
  • Third: Perinne Delompre, University of Alberta—The osmotic effect of the hyper-saline hydraulic fracturing fluid on rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss


  • First: Dustin Newton, MacEwan University—Zebrafish exposed to elevated COdemonstrate increased anxiety-like behaviour in the novel tank diving test
  • Second: Van Ortega, University of Alberta—Cellular uptake and cytotoxicity of photoluminescent Fe3Onanoparticle/Si nanocrystal hybrids
  • Third: Warda Javed, University of Alberta—Transport of selenite by human red blood cells in the presence of arsenite

The annual meeting and conference was made possible through the generous support of numerous sponsors, including the University of Alberta, Nautilus Environmental, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, CanNorth, Syngenta, Global Water Futures, Orano and many others.

We sincerely thank the organizing committee, led by the University of Alberta’s Greg Goss and supported by students Erik Folkerts, Danielle Philibert, Shannon Graham and Edyta Jasinska, without whom this conference would not have been possible. In addition, we would like to thank all attendees, presentation judges and volunteers who made this meeting a success.

Planning is currently underway for the 10th Annual General Meeting and Conference, which will be held in June 2019 in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. We hope to see you there.

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