Tamar Schlekat, SETAC Scientific Affairs Manager

If you are anything like me, you have probably been reading a lot more articles in recent years – and no not just those in our journals. You are probably consuming news articles from numerous sources since technology delivers them literally to our fingertips. For me, reading articles on environmental sciences intensified over the last year and a half as I joined the curating team for the SETAC Multibrief. If you do not know what that is, be sure to look at recent issues. Multibrief is a news aggregate email with about 3,000 subscribers. It is compiled by a small team that takes suggestions from the entire membership. Since it is technically a SETAC North American publication, it does, at times, tend to cover news from that region of the world, yet, it often covers news of global interest.

It is clear that many actual events, reported in news articles, do inspire research not to mention the all-important funding. Our publications and meetings are filled with great examples. But, what about news articles specifically called out in the Multibrief? Did they or do they trigger research ideas? Was the call for perspectives in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (ET&C) on plastics influenced by news articles on ocean plastics? Did the accounts of pharmaceuticals in water instigate a session at the upcoming SETAC Europe 28th Annual Meeting in Rome, Italy? Will the articles on fire suppressants and destroyed habitat inspire a session at the SETAC North America 39th Annual Meeting this November in Sacramento, California?

What about the article on the natural gas condensate spill in the East China Sea in the 22 February 2018 issue? Will that stimulate research? When I first read the article, I had to research what natural gas condensate was, having no experience with it, despite lots of experience with oil and gas. Wikipedia informed me that natural gas condensate, also referred to as “sweet,” is a mixture of straight chain alkanes, 2 to 12 carbons in length, with traces amounts of other organic substances and some impurities. I had never run across those substances in an aquatic setting, so I was curious. A few Google searches provided safety data sheets for several of those, all with minimal aquatic toxicity data. Where aquatic toxicity was provided, it was entirely based on quantitative structural activity relationships. A search of our journals was also not very fruitful in this regard. I wonder, will we have more research on sweet in the coming years?

Whatever you read for research and analysis ideas, SETAC is surely an asset through the articles published in its journals, the SETAC Globe and the Multibrief as well as SETAC’s blogs and Facebook, Twitter ane LinkedIn accounts. Regardless of the source of your inspiration, please share your ideas and research as SETAC meeting sessions, presentations and journal articles. Take advantage of the face-to-face opportunities when you see your colleagues and friends at SETAC meetings to share with each other where you get your inspiration for your respective research. Who knows, you may just find interesting ideas and opportunities to work on great projects with your SETAC friends!

Author’s contact information: tamar.schlekat@setac.org

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