SETAC North America: A Year in Perspective
Barnett Rattner, President, SETAC North America
Having just completed my term as SETAC North America President, I have been asked to provide some perspective on activities and events of our North America geographic unit. My year started out by attending an American Institute of Biological Sciences meeting on Scientific Societies in the 21st Century. Presentations about relevance and sustainability led the SETAC North America Board to a year of introspection, launching some new activities, and planning for the future. Aside from the usual activities supporting the mission of our global Society, the SETAC North America Board undertook and made progress on five high-priority goals identified in a long-range planning exercise.
To enhance communication of scientific findings, we released archived webinars on tissue residue toxicity assessments, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic pollutants (PBTs) to the membership at no charge, prepared a webinar on ecotoxicological aspects of nanotechnology, continued to use social media to communicate to our membership, and began to plan and pursue real-time remote digital access to portions of our future meetings and workshops.
To increase SETAC membership and balance tripartite representation, we conducted a gap analysis identifying outreach activities on public-policy statements and use of our products and intellectual property, discussed and developed ways to encourage state and provincial government employees engaged only in regional chapters to become full SETAC members, and engaged several nongovernmental organizations in our annual meeting.
We undertook new efforts to interact and communicate about ecotoxicology, risk assessment and natural resource management with allied societies and organizations including assisting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Commission for Environmental Cooperation with their Strategic Management of Chemicals workshop, working with both The Wildlife Society and the Scientific Liaison Coalition of Toxicology Societies to jointly sponsor special sessions at our annual meeting, and sustain ongoing exchange with the American Chemical Society.
A multi-component plan to more fully engage our members with their regional chapters was developed and is being implemented.
Efforts are underway to develop new SETAC focused topic meetings on ecotoxicological aspects of hydraulic fracturing and topics in the area of environmental chemistry.
Our treasurer, Doug Fort, led the charge on a plan for better investment of our rainy-day reserve funds. The SETAC North America Board and several committees were involved with surveys, nominations, and administrative and technical reviews including the US Army Wildlife Toxicology Assessment. We also responded with formal letters on significant North American government activities, suggesting reconsideration of the closure of the Experimental Lakes Area and encouraging US federal agencies to support travel of government employees to our annual meeting. The SETAC North America Board approved establishment of the Baylor University Student Chapter of SETAC and evaluated annual meeting locations with membership input, selecting Salt Lake City for 2015.
Committee chair Gene Mancini and his team had a special meeting to review the goals, objectives, investment and fund raising strategy of the SETAC North America Endowment Fund, which now exceeds $120,000. This year the fund helped sponsor travel for two students, two early career researchers and the new chair of the Mexico Regional Chapter to attend the annual meeting in Long Beach.
Several members of the SETAC North America Board headed up a new carbon offset initiative. Rather than purchasing carbon credits as we have in the past, at my suggestion the SETAC North America Board diverted the dollars earmarked for the President's Reception to fund carbon offset projects. Proposals were solicited, evaluated and awards made for two projects that included a carbon sequestrations and shoreline revegetation project in Waco, Texas, that is described in this issue of the Globe, and the City of Long Beach Colorado Lagoon Restoration Project.
The culmination of my year was our highly successful 33rd SETAC North America Annual Meeting, despite some travel restrictions and weather challenges. Our grass roots organization met in a green convention center in the sunny city of Long Beach, Calif. More than 2,200 attendees from 39 countries and the presence of SETAC World Council leaders from all five geographic units, colleagues from other continents interacted to “Catch the Next Wave in Advancing Science through Innovation and Collaboration.” The meeting certainly facilitated our long-standing efforts to build a global scientific Society.
It was an honor and pleasure to serve as your president. I thank the Board and many SETAC members and committees for their support. The North America geographic unit is in good hands with our new SETAC North America Board and Pat Guiney as president.
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