Focused Topic Meeting in Mexico “Un Enorme Exito” (A Huge Success)!
Ruth Hull, Intrinsik Environmental Sciences, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and Doris Vidal-Dorsch, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, Costa Mesa, California, USA
The first SETAC North America Focused Topic Meeting held in Mexico was a tremendous success! SETAC North America and the SETAC Mexico Regional Chapter held a meeting in Mérida, Yucatán (México) to facilitate a closer cooperation among Mexican, American and Canadian colleagues. We had several generous sponsors who made this event not just possible, but exceptional! Our thanks go to: Abraxis, Agilent Technologies, AMEQA, Cinvestav-Merida, DOW, Environ International, GIZ, Gobierno del Estado de Yucatan, GSI Environmental, Instituto de Ingenieria UNAM, Petroservicios Industriales S.A. de C.V., SNC-Lavalin, Rio Tinto, UAM.
Figure 1. Meeting co-chair Doris Vidal-Dorsch speaking at the opening reception in Mérida. Seated (L-R) are SNA Executive Director Greg Schiefer, Secretary of the Yucatan Ministry of Urban Development and the Environment Eduardo Batllori, SETAC World Council Representative Miguel Mora, local meeting chairman Omar Zapata, meeting co-chair Ruth Hull and CINVESTAV General Director Romeo De Coss.
Figure 2. Warren Boothman, organizer of the oil spill symposium, enjoying the sights at Uxmal, Yucatan.
More than 130 participants from 11 different countries attended, including students, scientists and decision-makers from the government, academic and business sectors, reflecting SETAC’s tripartite character. The meeting covered a variety of topics that addressed the theme Pollutants in the Environment: Fate and Toxicity. A joint SETAC/Society for Ecological Restoration Oil Spill Symposium was held the first day. In the two subsequent days we had concurrent sessions which included mass transport and chemical flux, chemical fate and effects, aquatic toxicity, human health and ecological risk assessment, risk assessment of contaminated soils, equilibrium partitioning to assess chemicals in sediments, and the use of bioindicators to investigate pollutant impacts on the environment. In addition, two short courses were conducted: Biomonitoring in the Terrestrial Environment and How to Get Published – Tips from a SETAC Editor-in-Chief. Slides from the latter short course have been posted to the SETAC website at www.setac.org/node/406.
A “lunch and learn” seminar How to Make an Effective Oral Presentation was sponsored by Rio Tinto. Best student presentation awards were given to Hollydawn Murray, Jeremiah Minich and Maria Elena Garcia Arreola. Thanks to the Desert Southwest Regional Chapter for the monetary awards. A silent auction was held to support Mexican student travel to the SETAC North America meeting in Boston. Over US $900 was raised to help bring two students to Boston: Mario Alberto Arzate Cárdenas (Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas – IPN) and Melina Soto (Universidad Nacional AutÓnoma de México). In addition, we are very thankful to the SETAC North America Endowment Fund for contributing funds to bring these two students, as well as three early career faculty to the meeting in Boston. We are excited that Dr. Omar Zapata (Cinvestav Unidad Mérida), Dr. Xochitl Guzmán Garcia (Universidad Autónoma Metrolpolitana) and Dr. Gabriela Rodríguez-Fuentes (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) will be attending the Boston meeting. Please welcome them all when you see them in November.
On the final day of the meeting, a discussion was held to identify potential issues that would benefit from collaboration among Canadian, American and Mexican scientists, possible sources of funding, and how SETAC could facilitate such collaboration. Please look for a poster at the SETAC North America annual meeting in Boston that will summarize the meeting and this discussion. A follow-up workshop is proposed to identify the priority environmental issues in Mexico and possible funding sources for research. All are welcome to get involved with this initiative. If you are interested to participate make sure to contact Ruth Hull or Doris Vidal-Dorsch (contact information provided below).
Some of the best networking happens during social events. A welcome reception provided the first taste of the tripartite warmth of Mexico: ambient temperature, spicy food and friendly people. One evening we were treated to a dinner reception at the La Quinta Montes Molina, a beautiful mansion full of Mexican history. Besides being a great opportunity for networking we enjoyed some regional dances and we also had a chance to dance ourselves. Another evening, we enjoyed a bus tour of Merida, which is the capital of Yucatan. After the meeting was over, approximately 30 of us took a tour to the Mayan ruins at Uxmal.
SETAC is known for its ability to combine sound science, extensive networking, and strong friendships. This meeting allowed us to enjoy all three, and especially to develop a network for collaboration among scientists from North America and around the world. At the SETAC North American annual meeting in Boston, you all will have the opportunity to meet a delegation of new and old SETAC members from Mexico. If you encounter them, we encourage you to welcome them and to continue showing them why we are such a great and successful society!
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