Kurt Maier, SETAC World Council Immediate Past President
It was an honor to have had the opportunity to serve SETAC in 2017 as President. It was a challenging year but also offered opportunities to improve our society and expand our science. As we move into 2018, I believe it is important to realize what SETAC is and recognize some of our accomplishments.
SETAC is an international scientific community with more than 5,100 members representing eminent environmental scientists and engineers in government, business, academia and nongovernmental organizations from nearly 100 countries. We are engaged in, dedicated to and support the study, analysis and solution of environmental issues, the management and regulation of natural resources, research and development, and environmental education, including public outreach. Our society uses a distinctive tripartite approach in governance and issue engagement. Our science is multidisciplinary, encompassing chemistry, ecotoxicology, engineering, environmental management, life cycle and risk assessment, to name just a few of our areas of expertise. Our global engagement of environmental scientists from around the world builds our technical commonalities, our diversity and our value as one of the premier scientific organizations in the world.
The SETAC World Council (SWC) continues to work diligently to expand our global reach and create opportunities to engage emerging scientific ideas, build global partnerships, and to collaborate and discuss common environmental problems. In addition to dealing with routine budget and management activities of an international professional society, we introduced a “Voices for Science” initiative that supports using scientific evidence to drive environmental decision and policy making, thus supporting the core mission of “Environmental Quality Through Science®.” SETAC is also continuing a scientific integrity initiative that is aimed at ensuring that our members are aware of and adhere to high standards of ethical behavior in scientific discourse, both written and verbal. The science conducted by SETAC members in all three sectors is frequently used in regulatory, policy and legal decisions that have significant environmental and economic impact. Subsequently, the work itself and how it is reported should be beyond reproach; free of obvious bias and based on objective, well-substantiated and replicable scientific methods.
Activities in our Global Science Committee and International Programs Committee flourished, and these efforts contributed significantly to the development of several new Pellston Workshops®, Focused Topic Meetings and advancement of SETAC’s Global Horizon Scanning Project. SETAC Interest Groups (IGs) continue to welcome SETAC members at all stages of their careers interested in the subject matter of the IGs. In addition to providing opportunities for collaboration on specific topics and between SETAC members, as well as seeking information and peer review, there is a continuing focus on consistent communication and mentoring among IGs. The topics covered by IGs range from animal alternatives to wildlife toxicology and nanotechnology, and the groups are operating at an all-time high level of engagement. We continue to interact with other scientific societies and non-governmental organizations to plan and co-sponsor workshops and symposia on topics such as “Adverse Outcome Pathways,” “Risk Assessment of Chemical Mixtures” and “Life Cycle Assessment,” just to name a few. Whether it is in scientific meetings and workshops, in the classroom and lab, or in the media, the SWC believes that building relationships and trust must remain a central strength and goal of our society.
SETAC’s five Geographic Units (GUs), Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America, and its regional branches and chapters reflect a grass-roots, bottom-up culture to ensure that decisions are made with members in mind. Progress on our Global Horizon Scanning Project was a major event at our World Congress Meeting in Orlando, the SETAC Europe meeting in Brussels, and subsequent meetings in Latin America, Africa, Asia and North America. The continued dissemination and discussion of these important environmental research initiatives is being carefully planned. This SETAC-wide activity is prioritizing regional, local and international environmental issues and challenges by engaging our GU network, and it will focus future society efforts on topics identified by global member perspectives.
Annual or biennial meetings in Stockholm (YES Meeting), Brussels (SETAC Europe), São Paulo (SETAC Latin America), Calabar (SETAC Africa) and Minneapolis (SETAC North America) highlighted the global science of SETAC members. In addition to the wide variety of successful branch and chapter meetings, SETAC offered professional opportunities in all geographies and across a wide range of scientific disciplines.
SETAC continues to expand its educational programming using webinar-based and in-person training focused on risk assessment, which has been delivered globally. Our goal is to add to this impressive story in the future, including expanding these efforts in collaboration with the World Bank. SETAC members continue to provide scientific education and support to policy makers through a variety of outreach efforts.
SETAC’s well-respected journals, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (ET&C) and Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management (IEAM), continue to attract leading research and review articles. The impact factors for both journals increased once again in 2017. The editors, editorial staff, reviewers and authors are commended for their efforts. We benefit from the high standard of excellence of our journals, but this advantage can only continue if you – our members – submit your very best research for publication.
I want to acknowledge that SETAC’s most valuable resource is its members. The efforts and accomplishments of SETAC members are impressive. Please think about the thousands of hours SETAC members and their employers devote to making SETAC relevant on local, regional, GU and international scales through a variety of activities and programming. I hope you will join me in making a commitment for 2018 to continue communicating the value of SETAC to friends, colleagues and regulators, speak out for our science, maintain scientific integrity practices and mentor early career researchers to ensure the vitality of our society. My colleagues on the SWC and I encourage your active participation in SETAC. Your contributions as individual members, and ours collectively as a professional society, will ensure that SETAC remains recognized as a scientific leader in addressing environment issues. Your leadership and participation will have a powerful impact on the practice and education of environmental toxicology and chemistry, and on our discipline as a true scientific driver for international scientific relations. Remember SETAC’s core mission, Environmental Quality Through Science®.
To conclude, 2017 was an exciting and memorable year for SETAC. It was truly inspiring to work with the SETAC leadership team. I thank the members of the SWC who worked hard to make SETAC successful. I also thank our excellent SETAC executive directors and staff in the Pensacola and Brussels offices. Please join me in supporting the 2018 SETAC President Ross Smith and the 2019 President Gertie Arts. SETAC will continue to have outstanding leadership. Thanks to all that made 2017 a memorable year for me.
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