SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  13 September 2012
Volume 13 Issue 9

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Regional Spotlight: SETAC North America’s North Atlantic Chapter

Adria Elskus, North Atlantic Chapter President, Ted Wickwire, Past-President

The North Atlantic Chapter (NAC) of SETAC North America continues to plan diverse educational, professional and social activities and enjoys a strong and enthusiastic membership and board. On 6-8 June 2012, our 18th annual meeting was held at the Whispering Pines Conference Center on the Alton Jones Campus of University of Rhode Island in West Greenwich. This self-contained facility nestled in the woods and ponds of western Rhode Island provided a terrific venue for scientific discourse and some nice recreational opportunities as well.

Northern Atlantic Regional Chapter
Participants gather at the North Atlantic Regional Chapter annual meeting.

The meeting got off to a lively start with the full-day short course, An Introduction to Emerging Technologies for Environmental Data Monitoring: Loggers to Sensors, Networks to the Cloud. UMass Boston faculty and technicians designed a course that included case studies, monitoring challenges, sensor resolution, field deployment challenges and such hands-on activities as having attendees calculate the power requirements for their "sensor systems." The group interpreted real-time signals from a pond-sonde, a CO2 detector and an indoor–outdoor weather station, including the realization that the A/C unit was delivering blasts of 10℃ air to the meeting room!

We were very lucky to have SETAC North America President Barnett Rattner open the annual meeting with a presentation on the many activities of SETAC North America, other geographic units and SETAC World. Our diverse platform and poster program included presentations on the evolution of the toxic response, unexpected findings with well-established biomarkers, phthalate reproductive toxicity, passive samplers, several emerging contaminants, petroleum toxicity controversies, toxic metals, molybdenum and hypoxia, munitions ecorisk, vapor intrusion and other indoor air issues, and systems-level approaches to nutrient management, among many other topics. We had two outstanding keynote speakers: National Public Radio (NPR) science editor and writer, Heather Goldstone, who spoke on objectivity in science and journalism, and professor emeritus and former director of Quaternary & Climate Studies at the University of Maine, George Jacobson, who discussed long-term climate dynamics. Heather and George joined Dan McCorkle (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) and Mike Hooper (US Geological Survey) on a Global Climate Change: Emerging Issues panel in a dynamic exchange between panelists and meeting attendees on climate science and the media, the complexities of understanding potential interactions of numerous GCC-provoked environmental changes, variability versus uncertainty, and the developing blur between science and journalism. This segued into the annual poster social, student raffle and silent auction. Student Presentation award winners include:

  • Best Student Oral Presentation— Nicholas Kutil, an undergraduate of Roger Williams University, RI, Mercury Bioaccumulation in Elasmobranchs
  • Best Student Poster Presentation— Lydia-Rose Kesich, Smith College, Northampton, MA, Characterizing the Teratogenic Effects of Deepwater Horizon Crude Oil and Dispersants on Zebrafish Embryonic Development
  • Best First-Time NAC Undergraduate Poster Presentation—Allison Hall, Roger Williams University, RI, Mercury in the Sediments of the Narragansett Bay Estuary (Rhode Island, USA):Contamination from a Historical and Spatial Perspective
  • Best First-Time NAC Graduate Poster Presentation—Binod Neupane, University of Maine, Orono, Accounting the Impacts on Ecological Goods and Services of Wood-derived Bioethanol Production

Northern Atlantic Regional Chapter

There was also a terrific music jam with piano, saxophone, flute, conga, two mandolins, three guitars and many, many singers. Many of those present were attending a NAC meeting for the first time, and left very impressed with the quality of the science and the presenters (and the jam!).

We have many exciting ideas for 2013 and are firming up some of our chapter’s key meetings. We will offer two short courses in 2013, one in February and one in June in conjunction with our annual meeting. The February short course will focus on natural resource damage assessment (NRDA). This is a follow-on and update of one of our most popular short courses, last presented in 2007. This course will provide an update on the state of the art of NRDA, as well as an opportunity for case–study based learning in a small-group setting.

The 2013 NAC annual meeting will be held 12—14 June 2013 at a beautiful, lakeside venue, the Lake Morey Inn, Fairlee, VT. We are in the early stages of selecting a short course topic for the meeting. One option is an update to another of our historically most popular courses focusing on applied geographic information systems.

On the student front, this year we have two student board members who are actively exploring ways to reach students in our region and share the valuable networking, professional development and scientific opportunities offered by our chapter. We are also exploring the formation of a student sub-chapter at the University of New England to provide more frequent student events serving a number of schools in the area. We continue to offer campus-based pizza socials, including a keynote speaker on a topic of interest to the specific student population.

The board is exploring opportunities to collaborate with other regional chapters, for example, developing a multi-day short course that pulls attendees from multiple adjacent regional chapters. We also continue to identify the emerging issues important to our membership and to plan panel sessions or other focused opportunities to learn about the science and any underlying controversies associated with these emerging issues in a highly interactive format. We also are exploring whether webinars on some of these topics would be of value to our members. We look forward to another event-filled year!

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