SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  16 August 2012
Volume 13 Issue 8

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SETAC Australasia Meeting Report from the Second Annual Conference

Fred Leusch, Griffith University

SETAC Australasia

The 2nd SETAC Australasia Conference was held 4-6 July 2012 at the St Lucia campus of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. The theme of the conference was "Navigating Through Extreme Weather Events in a Changing Environment," as a sign of respect to creatures both big and small who suffered from the intense drought and floods that have shaken Australia in recent years.

The conference was opened by Uncle Des Sandy, traditional Elder of the Yuggera People. Des Sandy's welcoming message was followed by another by Alan Lawson, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Queensland.

SETAC Australasia
The conference organising committee from left to right: Phil Scott, Beate Escher, Ross Smith, Frederic Leusch, Maud Achard, Dianne Jolle, Scott Wilson, Reinier Mann, Erik Prochazka.

John Chapman introduced Robert Letcher of Environment Canada, who gave the inaugural Tony Roach Memorial Keynote Address in memory of our good friend and colleague who tragically passed away recently. Letcher presented his recent research and thoughts on "Emerging Contaminants and the Influence of Biotransformation and Degradation on Bioaccumulation, Fate and Effects in Model Wildlife and Fish".

Thereafter followed a smorgasbord of great presentations on the impact of extreme weather events, metals, passive sampling, environmental impacts of coal seam gas and statistics and computational techniques. The tea breaks and lunches, in a marquee outside on the grass, were highly commended by the delegates, who thoroughly enjoyed both the food and being out in the Queensland sun. The poster presentation, which wrapped up the day, was a great success with fantastic views of the sunset on the heritage-listed University of Queensland library building.

The evening provided no rest for the wicked however, with a pub crawl in a city that was celebrating a rugby victory—the Queensland Reds defeating the New South Wales Blues in the State-of-Origin competition for a 7th consecutive year. The delegates took the good mood of the locals fully on board as another reason to celebrate!

The second day started quite gently, with the student breakfast. Ross Smith (Hydrobiology) gave the students his take on "How to Get a Career in the Industry/Consulting World", while Jenny Webster-Brown gave her insights into "how to get a career in academia."

Martin Holmstrup of Aarhus University, Denmark then opened the proceedings on the second day with his keynote presentation on "Interactions Between Natural Stressors and Chemicals" and set the tone for another great day of presentations covering environmental monitoring, risk assessment and environmental guidelines, mixtures and multiple stressors and environmental toxicology and chemistry in extreme environments.

After a brief recess, the delegates converged on Customs House on the Brisbane River for the conference dinner. After reviewing the photos from the pub crawl, the awards went flying (amongst others: the "Bring on Global Warming award" for Martin Holmstrup, the "Right Place at the Wrong Time" award for Sally Gaw and the "St Leo's Award for All Night Partying" for Evan Gallagher).

The historic surroundings, delicious food and convivial atmosphere (and probably also the wine) meant that the delegates were more than ready to rip up the dance floor once the band started playing!

After a quick morning coffee (courtesy of Merlo Coffee, who generously donated 2-for-1 coupons to all delegates), the third keynote address was presented by Jenny Webster-Brown of the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University, New Zealand on "Environmental Chemistry in the Freezer: Antarctic Meltwaters and their Ability to Support Life". Whether a testament to the dedication of our delegates or (most likely!) the knowledge that Jenny's presentation could not be missed, most of the delegates were in attendance - although many were pretty quiet until the morning coffee break!

The final day wrapped up with presentations on micropollutants and emerging contaminants, water quality, salinity, soil and sediments, and biomarkers and biosensors. At the closing ceremony, several more awards were handed out, including Best Student Poster to Bhatia Harpreet and Best Student Research Seminar to Sharon Grant.

Maud Achard (the only member on the conference organising committee who was not a SETAC member) was also awarded an honorary SETAC membership in recognition of her contribution to the conference.

The post-conference drinks at the Red Room on the University of Queensland campus provided a great way to wrap up the Brisbane meeting and announce the next conference: September 2013 in Melbourne.

We would like to thank the conference sponsors Vision Environment, CAPIM, Hydrobiology, Ecotox Services Australasia, Advanced Analytical, and the Smart Water Research Centre. The conference was organised by SETAC Australasia, SETAC, The University of Queensland, Griffith University and Entox. To find out more about this conference or view the conference proceedingss, please head to the conference website at

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