SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
14 April 2016
Volume 17 Issue 4

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Science in the Swamp: Highlights from the 5th SETAC YES Meeting

Erica Brockmeier, YES2016 Program Chair and Recent Graduate Meeting Mentor, Cody Smith, YES2016 Local Organizing Committee Chair, Bekah Burket, YES2016 Scientific Committee Chair, David Dreier, YES2016 Advertising Subcommittee Chair and Vice Chair of NASAC, and L. Blair Paulik, Chair of NASAC

The SETAC North America Student Advisory Council (NASAC) hosted the 5th SETAC Young Environmental Scientists (YES) meeting from 28 February–2 May on the beautiful campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville. This was the first YES meeting held in North America, having been inspired by four fantastic YES meetings previously organized by the Student Advisory Council of SETAC Europe (SAC Europe). NASAC was pleased that they were able to build on the success in Europe and bring the SETAC YES meeting to North America for the first time.

Opening reception
Opening reception at the University of Florida Cancer & Genetics Research Complex. Photo courtesy of A. Olufolajimi

This year’s YES meeting had more than 90 participants from 13 different countries, with representatives from all SETAC geographic units in attendance. The meeting kicked off with a workshop on science outreach by Marianne Shockley from the University of Georgia, where students learned how to develop their own outreach programs and even had the chance to get up close and personal with some bugs! The first day finished with the opening ceremony, headlined with remarks from Kent Fuchs, President of the University of Florida, Charles Menzie, SETAC Global Executive Director, and Bryan Brooks, ET&C Editor. A highlight of the opening ceremony was an inspiring message on the life and work of Lou Guillette from his daughter Tammy Mandell.

The YES2016 meeting had a fantastic scientific program thanks to the hard work of the session chairs and all the excellent student presenters. Platform presentations covered a diverse set of topics, including molecular toxicology, environmental chemistry, risk assessment and ecological stressors. Participants had the chance to test their knowledge of SETAC (and some general knowledge questions as well) in the first YES meeting pub quiz. The meeting attendees heard perspectives about working in the academic, government and business sectors from the career panelists Beth Carraway (Clemson University), Mace Barron (USEPA) and Isabel Johnson (NextEra Energy, Inc.).

YES pub quiz
Students having fun in the first ever YES meeting pub quiz. Photo courtesy of K. Albanese

For the second YES meeting in a row, short courses were provided to all the student participants free of charge. The University of Florida’s Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research organized the morning short course, where students learned about concepts and techniques in microscopy, flow cytometry, bioinformatics, proteomics, monoclonal antibodies and NextGen DNA sequencing. The afternoon panel of courses was also diverse, with topics including life cycle assessment, risk assessment, professional development for academics, delivering scientific presentations and publications.

The YES2016 organizers would like to sincerely thank all our meeting sponsors, course instructors, panelists, the SETAC North America Board of Directors and the SETAC North America office staff for all of their help with this event and in making the first SETAC YES meeting in North America a reality and a great success. We are already looking forward to the next YES meeting, scheduled for February 2017 in Stockholm, and are brainstorming locations for the next North America meeting in 2018.

While we could certainly go on for days about the YES meeting, we’ll let some of our participants share their thoughts and enthusiasm about their experience:

“I thought this was a great meeting! It was interesting and it was a great experience to meet so many different people. I would come again and recommend it to my friends and colleagues.”

“It was great for me because I was talking about what I want to do and lots of people gave me advice.”

“The YES meeting is quite impactful and eye-opening, and more young scientists all over the world need to get more involved!”

“It gives students a great opportunity to network and get involved.”

“The YES meeting is a great meeting for presenting and networking in a low-pressure environment.”

“We were able to meet more people, the small size is good, and having it student-focused made it easier to strike up conversations.”

“Loved it! I will attend YES in the future.”

“It has been a life-changing experience!”

“This year’s YES meeting was a great success. It was wonderful to see so many young scientists doing great and interesting work and making connections with peers that can last their whole career.”

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