Samuel Moeris, YES 2019 Chair, Ghent University; Josef Koch, Annual Meeting Representative, Ghent University; and Katharina Heye, SAC Chair, Goethe University

Who needs dining tables when you can have lunch on your lap while enjoying an entertaining anecdote by a senior professor you have only just met? A glimpse at this scenario may have been confusing to the uninitiated passing by the workshop room around lunchtime on Monday at SETAC Rome. While tables had naturally been foreseen for the Student Mentor Lunch, this unusual setting turned out to loosen up the atmosphere and stimulate conversation among students and mentors. Both sponsors and participants confirmed that the lunch was a fun and rewarding social event.

Student mentor lunch in Rome, 2018

Student Mentor Lunch at the 2018 SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Rome. ©SETAC Europe

The Student Mentor Lunch was just one of the many activities organized or supported by the SETAC Europe Student Advisory Council (SAC) at the SETAC Europe 28th Annual Meeting this year in Rome, Italy. The Student Mentor Lunch, the Student Lunch Seminar and the Student Party, as well as two face-to-face meetings and the SETAC Europe Student Assembly, filled up the SAC members’ meeting agendas. Despite the many hours of work that we invested in preparing those activities, as every year, the overall feedback was very positive, leaving us with a deep sense of gratification.

Involvement is defined as the act or process of taking part in something. Certainly, involvement is the core of our engagement in the SAC, but to us it is much more. It means being of service, passing on positive experiences and actively contributing to SETAC. It also includes socializing, networking and building real friendships. Working with friends makes it all the more fun.

2018 SETAC Europe Student Advisory Council members

Current SETAC Europe Student Advisory Council and affiliated members. From left to right: Kristina Bitter, Paul Böhm, Lena Benner, Tomica Mišljenovic, Katharina Heye, Simon Lüderwald, Lida Deermann, Josef Koch, Samuel Moeris, Mafalda Castro and Andreas Eriksson. ©SETAC Europe

As of late, the SAC has set new focus on the organization of the upcoming Young Environmental Scientists (YES) Meeting to be held from 5–10 February 2019 in Ghent, Belgium. This meeting format was held for the first time in 2009 in Landau, Germany, and has developed into an annual meeting alternately organized in Europe and North America (since 2015). The YES meeting is organized exclusively by students for students to engage in a non-intimidating, yet professional environment. One key aspect of this meeting is that no conference fees are charged, and travel grants are available for the participants. It is a dynamic conference based on established concepts such as workshops, scientific presentations, career talks and short courses, complemented by fresh formats such as a science slam (YES 2017) or a community science night (YES 2018).

Preparations for YES 2019 in Ghent are running at full speed, and the meeting topic, “From test results to decision making: Driving environmental policy from the heart of Europe,” promises fruitful discussions around bridging the gap between research and policy making. This topic resonates with the second of eight strategic goals of SETAC Europe for 2018–2020, namely to “facilitate optimization of processes and rates of transfer of science to regulation.” The YES 2019 meeting will kick off with a workshop day guiding participants from data generation in the lab, to data requirements for consultancy and decision-making, to data use for advances in policy making on a European level. This introduction will be followed by two full conference days, featuring platform and poster presentations from all participants, and one full-day of professional training courses covering soft skills, research techniques and career management. Finally, we will invite three career speakers from the fields of academia, government and business. At this point, we can already confirm that the current SETAC Europe president and Ghent University professor, Karel De Schamphelaere, will speak about his career in academia.

In addition to the scientific program, we will also offer a social program, as well as poster socials and a student party. For the first time, we will also have a special career talk of a former SAC member, illustrating how being involved in the SAC and SETAC in general have impacted the speaker’s career. Furthermore, we will organize an informal get-together between students and representatives of various companies to facilitate job networking in a relaxed atmosphere.

We are looking forward to another exiting YES meeting from 5–10 February 2019 in Ghent. If you want to get more information about SAC or YES 2019, or if you would like to support the YES meeting, please contact us at yesmeeting2019@gmail.com.

Authors’ contact information: samuel.moeris@ugent.be, josef.koch@ugent.be and katharina.heye@gmail.com

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