SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
12 December 2013
Volume 14 Issue 12

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A Valedictory Message from the 2013 SETAC North America President

Patrick Guiney, Immediate Past-President, SETAC North America

I have been a member of SETAC for 34 years and there is one observation that continues to overwhelm me. That is the uncommon abilities and the indefatigable dedication of the many people who work to make SETAC the great organization that it is today. SETAC is a family of bonded friends with a common global vision that seeks to establish the Society as a true scientific leader worldwide. We are exploring a variety of promising opportunities in pursuit of this objective. Active participation by all of our members contributes to an evolving “state-of-the-science” which forms the baseline for SETAC’s long-range strategies. Our founding fathers were incredibly insightful when they established the society on the basis of true tripartite balance and healthy scientific debate. As a maturing professional society, we are currently enjoying the benefits of successfully engaging in numerous scientific debates with widely recognized international credibility.  I am very proud to call SETAC my home.

We just completed a very successful SETAC North America 34th Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn., where we truly “Harmonized our Science Across Disciplines.” As always, this annual meeting provided outstanding opportunities to review cutting-edge science, continue professional development and of course catch up with many old friends. This year’s meeting attracted nearly 2,000 attendees representing 40 countries, 6 Canadian provinces, and all 50 US states plus Puerto Rico. The preliminary analysis of the annual meeting survey indicates that over 94% of the respondents reported that the overall scientific content was “Excellent/Good.”  Continued education courses were highly rated, as were the many venues for scientific networking, global outreach and professional mentoring.

Digital Capture of Annual Meeting Sessions
Since this is my last official communication as your president, now that I have passed the gavel into the able hands of Kurt Maier, I wanted to highlight a few key activities that the SETAC North America Board of Directors (BoD) feels are preparing us for the future. In 2013 the SETAC North America BoD worked on developing what we call our “All in Digital” initiative. The BoD recognized that one of the most important aspects of being a member of SETAC was the social networking opportunities created for attendees of our annual meetings. However, we also recognized the realities of tight economic conditions and increasing travel costs. So we knew that we needed to think about changing the paradigm for conducting annual meetings, focused topic meetings, seminars and workshops from completely face-to-face meetings to include some options for virtual meetings. After significant deliberations, the BoD contracted with MultiView to digitally capture selected presentations at our Nashville meeting, which is now available. Registered attendees of the meeting will have unlimited access to the entire 100 hours of content. SETAC members who did not attend the meeting will access the content at a reduced member price, and non-SETAC members who did not attend the meetings will be able to assess the content at a standard price. By now you should have received a post-meeting email with instructions for accessing this information at the SETAC Live Learning Center. This initial effort to include digitally captured sessions was very successful, so the plan is to continue and even expand this approach for future meetings.

Professional Certification
After benchmarking and with input from SETAC North America members, the BoD determined that there is a rising demand for certifications (globally). Certifications are often seen as distinguishing factors in career development and promoting a young interdisciplinary science such as environmental toxicology and chemistry. SETAC is uniquely qualified to create a certification for environmental toxicology and chemistry since we are the only global environmental science organization. The BoD feels that the certification program is a natural progression for SETAC and would bring our society to the next level. Developing a certification program will not be a trivial task and will take a lot of effort and input from many members. We created a core team that has moved us through the initial phase of evaluation and development and is current working on development of task lists and core competencies for the following technical focus areas: environmental toxicology, environmental chemistry, and environmental risk assessment. Development of the core competencies and the establishment of relative importance for these technical areas will allow us to focus on the preliminary certification development and should be done early in 2014. After that, teams will be established to develop certification questions, while other areas regarding program management will be advanced in parallel.

SETAC Engagement on the Chemical Safety Improvement Act
On 22 May 2013, two U.S. Senators announced that they were introducing a bipartisan bill to modernize the 37-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The so-called Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013 (CSIA) would, according to the designers, "for the first time, ensure that all chemicals are screened for safety to protect public health and the environment, while also creating an environment where manufacturers can continue to innovate, grow, and create jobs." The bill, which has been in discussion for some time, represents a significant opportunity for SETAC to provide scientific expertise and the incorporation of contemporary environmental chemistry and toxicological principles into this legislation. We have formed a SETAC North America dialogue group to investigate this issue under the auspices of the Public Outreach Committee. This dialogue group will organize formally in 2014, and begin working to identify and develop the best ways to communicate evolving scientific information and perspective to help improve this legislation.

In conclusion, it has been my distinct pleasure to serve as your SETAC North America president. I want to especially thank the BoD, the outstanding SETAC staff, all of our committees and advisory groups for making this a very successful year. I wish each of you, the very best in all of your professional and personal endeavors. I ask that you support our new SETAC North America president Kurt Maier and the SETAC North America BoD in continuing to make SETAC such an amazing and admired professional society.

Author's contact information: PDGuiney@SCJ.COM

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