SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  15 August 2013
Volume 14 Issue 8

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Regional Spotlight: Prairie Northern Chapter Celebrating 4 Years, and Growing!

Jeff Decker, PNC 4th Annual Meeting Student Representative

saskatchewan attendees
University of Saskatchewan attendees

The 4th annual SETAC Prairie Northern Chapter (PNC) meeting was held at the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, on 7–8 June 2013, hosted by Greg Pyle and Alice Hontela with the immeasurable assistance of the local organizing committee of Bill Dew, Andreas Luek, Jeff Decker and Laurie Scott. The conference was structured around the theme “Sharing Water Resources in a Growing Economy: Science to Policy” with plenary lectures, 16 platform talks, and 24 poster presentations, as well as a short course on field monitoring. Plenary lectures were given by Wendell Koning (Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Department) on water quality issues in the South Saskatchewan River Basin (Alberta), Kelly Munkittrick (Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)) on a new paradigm for monitoring the cumulative effects of stressors, and Greg Goss (University of Alberta) on nanomaterials. More than 75 attendees joined us from across the vast chapter reaches, resulting in a diverse, friendly, and at times rambunctious crowd!

Alberta Water & Environmental Science building, University of Lethbridge
Alberta Water & Environmental Science building, University of Lethbridge

The platform presentations were all of a very high calibre, especially from the students, some of whom were undergraduates presenting their own work for the first time. The chapter awards those student presentations, poster and platform deemed to be strongest. This year was exceptionally challenging, with only a few points from our volunteer judges separating individuals. Our top platform award winner was Jith Thomas (University of Saskatchewan) who presented an interesting talk on the sensitivity of early life stages of zebrafish to selenium, followed by Jon Doering (University of Saskatchewan) who presented a fascinating talk on sturgeon responses to dioxin-like compound exposure through whole transcriptome analysis. Among the many excellent posters, the top award was captured by Sarah Crawford (University of Saskatchewan) who presented work on the role of organic matter altering bioavailability of sediment-associated uranium to the freshwater midge, with a close second by Scott Seward (University of Lethbridge), who presented on growth, survival and toxicant accumulation in rainbow trout stocked in urban stormwater ponds in southern Alberta.

On the second day of the conference, a very informative and discussion-igniting short course was offered. The course entitled “Design of Field Monitoring and Research Programs – Ten Stupid Things Not to Do” was lead by Kelly Munkittrick (COSIA, Director of Environmental Monitoring and Risk Assessment). Munkittrick shared his extensive experience and knowledge to challenge the 46 participants to identify hurdles and formulate specific questions when designing a monitoring and research program. Everyone left with something to think about as they design and implement their own research field programs.

Of course, there is always the socializing at chapter meetings, which gives the chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. In terms of entertainment, food and beverages, a local establishment generously hosted many of the conference attendees, providing us with great food, drinks and a friendly space to enjoy one another’s company. We were also entertained and well fed at the conference banquet and silent auction the Friday evening after the presentations. Bidding wars ensued on some wonderful donated items which made the silent auction a great success, raising $670 to support chapter activities. Overall, it was an interesting, informative, fun-filled conference and we look forward to the 5th annual SETAC PNC meeting which will be held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 2014.

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