SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  18 August 2011
Volume 12 Issue 8

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Regional Spotlight: Mid-South Chapter

Richard Grippo, Mid-South Chapter President

The Mid-South Chapter includes the area approximately encompassed by a 500 mile diameter circle centered on Memphis, TN. It includes members from Tennessee, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and Louisiana. A full description of our Chapter can be found at

Our annual meeting, held 18-20 May 2011, utilized the beautiful campus of Arkansas State University and the recently constructed Forrest L. Wood Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Nature Center, both in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Because this was Mid-South’s 15th annual meeting, it was decided that the time was appropriate to take a look back at how the Chapter got started, where it is now and where it might go in the future. Thus, the theme of the meeting was “Historical Perspectives of the Mid-South Environment.”

Richard Grippo
Figure 1. Rich Grippo telling yet another bad joke

The event began with a pre-meeting Meet ‘n’ Greet at Cregeen’s Irish Pub for the far-flung thirsty and hungry members converging on Jonesboro. The next morning, poster set-up and a not-quite ready continental breakfast (frozen Danish, anyone?) preceded an opening session on “Environmental Management and Food Production” and then a session on “Further Down the Line: Waste, Watersheds and Water Flow”. These initial sessions were dominated by students, happy to go first and thus enjoy the rest of the meeting free of nervous anticipation about their upcoming presentations.

The group then up and transported themselves eight miles south to the Nature Center, built with a 1/8 cent sales tax for conservation and protection of Arkansas natural resources. There they were greeted by a BBQ and smoked chicken feast, most of which was consumed outside in the beautiful weather. Lunch was followed by a Special Symposium, “The Dim Past, The Middle Past, and the Near Past of Mid-South SETAC” following the historical theme of the meeting. The first speaker, Randy Cox, geologist from the University of Memphis, presented a fascinating talk on the geological history of the Mid-South. We were quite surprised to learn that at one time, the Ozarks and Appalachians were one huge mountain range; that Crowley’s Ridge, on which Jonesboro resides, is nothing more than a 150 mile long gravel bar formed between the ancient Mississippi and Ohio rivers; and that the Ohio is really the larger of the two and the Mississippi River actually flows in a small fraction of the historic Ohio riverbed.

Randy Cox
Figure 2. Dr. Randy Cox explaining why Arkansas contains “delta” even though it is 450 miles from the Gulf

A second talk by Julie Morrow, archeologist from the ASU Museum, covered 3500 years of human history in the Mid-South, including the earliest recorded cemetery in the New World, the theorized use of the thousands of Indian mounds in the Mid-South and landscape changes brought on by the transition from hunter/gatherers to horticulture. A break in the Nature Center’s multi-sensory auditorium, which exposed the members to literal shaking by earthquakes and misty rain showers, was followed by the final talk from Jerry Farris, a charter member of the Chapter and current SETAC North America Board member. Jerry’s talk covered the history of the Mid-South Chapter, especially those qualities and considerations necessary for the continued success of the Chapter. This theme continued in an informal breakout session, grouped by students or professionals, which discussed how the Chapter might proceed and be successful in the future. A reception at the Grippo home with food and spirits provided a noisy but relaxing ending to a full day of science and history.

The opening session back at ASU the next morning, “Electricity, Toxicity, Histaminergically, and Oily,” was followed by presentation of more than $1000 in travel awards to the top student presenters and the raffling of some of the left-over reception beer. A box lunch allowed final discussion and wondering what might have happened on the field trip to the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge to view the Ivory-billed Woodpecker sighting area among 1000+ year old cypress, cancelled due to extreme (>9 feet) high water lingering on the river from recent heavy rains.

Diversity in action
Figure 3. Diversity in action during the poster session: a professor from South Africa (Dr. Richard Warby) and a graduate student from North Carolina (James Choate).

Winners - Student Presentation Competition
Oral presenations
1st place - Amy Shaffer
2nd place - Teresa Brueggen
3rd place - Matthew Mccoole

Poster presentations
1st place - Nick Melby
2nd place - Mindi Ansley
3rd place - James Choate

We wish to thank our generous sponsors, including the ASU Environmental Science Graduate Program, the ASU Judd Hill Foundation, EnSafe, Inc., FTN Associates, ASU Ecotoxicology Research Facility, ASU College of Sciences and Mathematics and the ASU Department of Biological Sciences.

Mid-South SETAC is now looking forward to being the host chapter for the upcoming SETAC North America 34th Annual Meeting at Gaylord Opryland, Nashville, TN, 17-21 November 2013. This would be the Mid-South Chapter’s third hosting of a SETAC North America meeting, having participated in Nashville, TN in 2000 and New Orleans in 2009.

Mid-South logo

Finally, Mid-South is sponsoring a new logo contest to replace the venerable first logo, designed by Jerry Farris. The contest is open to anyone (you do not have to be a member of Mid-South or even SETAC North America). The prize is a new iPod Nano and the eternal (well, long-term) gratitude of the Chapter.

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