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

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2011: Year of Accomplishments and Transitions

George P. Cobb, Past-President, SETAC North America

It has been my pleasure to serve as the President of SETAC North America (SNA) this past year. I thank all of the Board of Directors, the committees, advisory groups, regional leaders and the Annual Program Committee for making this a successful year within SNA. Together we have made great strides toward achieving "environmental quality through science" in 2011, while undergoing many transitions.

SNA is making a concerted effort to place more of the governance activities into committees. Although this approach can cause some uncertainties regarding the specifics of decision making, a broader-based approach to SETAC operations and governance represents the natural progression of a maturing professional society. It is interesting to note that SETAC finds itself at a unique place in the maturation of a professional society. The SETAC founders established and solidified our society, but are now passing the management of SETAC’s affairs to their successors. Although this process has been underway for over a decade, the final aspects of society management will soon be left to those of us who are reaping the benefits of the early leaders of the society. Given the genesis of SETAC in North America, we are likely to be more acutely aware of this transition than are other geographic units. However, we should all realize that such a transition occurs, but once in the history of a society. Continued advancement of sound science and meaningful dialogue among our tripartite membership during this transition is critical to the success of SNA and SETAC globally. It is incumbent upon each of us to realize the responsibilities that we share in continuing to strengthen SETAC. Fortunately we have strong, well-conceived foundations and thoughtful apprenticeship of new leaders has become part of the SETAC culture.

Indeed, SETAC is experiencing many of the same transitions and continues to make positive impacts at the global scale. All SETAC geographic units worked together to reconcile and solidify our finances while cooperatively implementing important global outreach activities. While other professional societies experienced static or negative growth, SNA membership increased over 7%, a sure sign of the collegial and welcoming atmosphere of our society.

As always, the annual meeting provided a great opportunity for a high-level scientific discourse and ample time to relax and catch up with old friends. The meeting attracted 2,500 attendees representing 39 countries and all regions of SNA. The multicultural attendance at our meeting demonstrates the leadership of SNA in the global mission of SETAC and the strength of our regional chapters from Mexico to the farthest northern reaches of Canada and Alaska. Vibrant regional chapters continue to provide the foundation for contact with members early in their careers and serve as a great training ground for our future leaders.

During the year, SNA took a major step forward in program development and hosted two focused-topic meetings related to oil pollution. Held in Pensacola, Florida and Merida, Mexico these meetings attracted hundreds of attendees. The latter meeting helped to improve our member services in that new regional chapter of SNA.

SNA provided leadership in assembling an international steering committee to implement the Global Climate Change Workshop. SNA and SETAC Latin America joined forces to obtain National Science Foundation funds for a Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute, which will allow graduate students and post-doctoral scientists to delve into the intricacies of air pollution issues in areas where mega cities are encroaching into agricultural areas. All of these accomplishments are directly attributable to tremendous volunteer efforts of the membership and to reliable support from the SNA staff.

Let us all commit ourselves to improving SNA by supporting our new President Barnett Rattner, the SNA Board, committees, and regional leaders.

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