Student Activities Shine at the SETAC World Congress in Orlando
David A. Dreier, Chair, SETAC North America Student Advisory Council
The 7th SETAC World Congress/SETAC North America 37th Annual, Meeting, which was held from 6–10 November in Orlando, Florida, continued a long-standing tradition of outstanding student activities. There was strong participation in all events, which included a leadership professional training course, Reddit AMA, student–mentor dinner, career navigation event, noontime seminar, student assembly and evening mixer. Many of these activities were organized by the North America Student Advisory Council (NASAC), which consists of dedicated student members from across the North America geographic unit. In addition, the World Congress provided an exciting opportunity for student leaders to meet from across the globe. In fact, student representatives from every SETAC geographic unit were present, which provided a unique opportunity to continue ongoing collaborations to expand student activities worldwide.
As current chair of NASAC, I would like to extend a special thanks to Holly Dixon, who served as the NASAC Student Activities Subcommittee Chair and organized many of the fantastic events for the Orlando meeting. Similarly, Blair Paulik, the outgoing chair of NASAC, was instrumental in this programming. We are also indebted to the Student Activities Committee, Program Committee and our student activities sponsors, who enabled many of these opportunities at the conference. Below we highlight a few student activities, and we hope to continue these important events at future annual meetings.
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- Leadership Short Course
Alistair Brown, NASAC Liaison to the Career Development Committee
Students participate in the leadership course at the World Congress.
NASAC and the leadership of the Career Development Committee (CDC) mutually hosted a half-day professional training course at the World Congress. We were grateful for Baylor University and the University of Winnipeg who partnered as flagship co-sponsors of this event. Taking advantage of the location, Laurel Brown from the University of Florida facilitated the course, “Communication and Collaboration: A Scientists Guide to Improving Professional Presence and Leadership in Any Setting.” Brown’s main objectives were to empower people to become self-aware of their personality types and natural communication mechanisms. Identification of personality type was facilitated by components of the DiSC® certification program. This launched the packed audience into non-stop comparisons, humor, questions and games regarding how to best communicate with each style and how to handle conflict between style types. Central to the success of this session was the understanding that leading through influence trumps position or title any day.
What I was most impressed with about hosting and attending this session was the preliminary survey results conducted with graduate students across North America, who asserted that leadership skills and courses such as this are essential in today’s economic world and desired above all other types of courses. This was also reflected in the attendance as the NASAC/CDC Leadership session had the most registrants of the 13 professional training courses offered in Orlando! Moreover, with attendees from across the globe and interest from grad students and early career professionals to SETAC sustainers, this course demonstrated a universal appeal.
We look forward to an even greater learning opportunity in the Twin Cities at the SETAC North America 38th Annual Meeting, which will be held from 12–16 November 2017, as we grow in tangible skills that make us more effective teammates, coworkers and global leaders.
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- Noontime Seminar and Student Assembly
Blair Paulik, Outgoing Chair, SETAC North America Student Advisory Council
The SETAC Orlando student noontime seminar was generously sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive, and this year’s speaker was Kate Sellers. Sellers is President-Elect of the Product Stewardship Society and Technical Director at Environmental Resources Management. Her talk was titled, “Hindsight may be 20:20; how good is our foresight?” Before the event, NASAC leaders worked with Sellers to ensure that the seminar would engage the students who attended in topics that were relevant to them. She delivered on this promise, speaking about the real-world challenges of making environmental health decisions when there are countless unknowns and the best solution is not always clear. Sellers finished her presentation with an interactive activity. Attendees were given real-world environmental health problems to solve. Working in small groups, attendees came up with lists of what factors would need to be considered when approaching the challenge, and worked together to come up with innovative solutions to these complex environmental health challenges. Thanks to Colgate-Palmolive’s sponsorship, the event included a catered lunch that was free to students. Needless to say, registration for the event filled quickly, and it was very well attended. The student-led luncheon and seminar was, yet again, a fun and informational event for all.
Immediately following the noontime seminar, NASAC leaders hosted the annual SETAC North America All Student Assembly. This Student Assembly was the first time that student leaders from all five of SETAC’s Geographical Units (North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia/Pacific and Africa) spoke to the students in attendance. This was especially fitting, as SETAC Orlando was a SETAC World Congress meeting. This was also a major landmark for SETAC. The society’s support for students has always been strong, and this was yet another milestone marking SETAC’s ongoing commitment to supporting students studying environmental toxicology and chemistry around the world. I kicked off the assembly by giving an overview of NASAC’s accomplishments over the past year. NASAC’s current chair, David Dreier, finished the assembly with an overview of his vision for the coming year. He also summarized upcoming student award deadlines and ways to get more involved with NASAC. Finally, Dreier introduced NASAC’s newly elected vice chair, Alex MacLeod. If you’d like to get move involved with NASAC, please reach out to David Dreier or Alex MacLeod.
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- Career Navigation Event
Faith Lambert, NASAC Student Activities Subcommittee
This year NASAC held its second annual Career Navigation Event (CNE), which was held in the Expo Center on Wednesday morning. This event provided an informal platform for students to have one-on-one discussions with representatives from all three of SETAC’s major sectors: academia, government and business. Students were paired with volunteers sharing similar career interests, and many were able to meet multiple individuals over the course of the event. We had an outstanding showing of about 30 exuberant volunteers this year, whose advice was well received by our participants, as evidenced by the great feedback we received from students after the event. Many of the volunteers also expressed enjoying participating in the CNE and having the opportunity to share their experiences with the younger generation of SETAC.
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- Student Mixer
Austin D. Gray, Carolina Regional Chapter Representative for NASAC
This year at the 7th SETAC World Congress/SETAC North America 37th Annual Meeting in Orlando, NASAC hosted our third student mixer. The event started in 2014 at the SETAC North America 35th Anuual Meeting in Vancouver. This event was incorporated into the North American meeting schedule after the positive reception of the student mixers in SETAC Europe led by the Europe Student Advisory Council. The event is designed to help foster interaction among students within SETAC North America and to build relationships that transcend the meeting. This year we hosted the party at Club 39 in Orlando. This event was different than past mixers due to this meeting serving as a World Congress. Students from all geographical units of SETAC were present at this meeting and the turnout for the mixer was greater than expected. Students bonded in a relaxed and engaging atmosphere. Students socialized over drinks and danced to music (a mix of different genres including house, pop, hip hop, latin, etc) to unwind after a busy day of sessions. The event sold out, however we were able to accommodate the students that registered on site. It was a fun way to end the student activities at this year’s annual meeting. Thanks to the many donors, personnel from the SETAC office, members of the Program Committee and NASAC for their contributions that allowed this event take place.
We look forward to partying with you in the coming years and hope that it continues to grow bigger each year. Next year’s meeting will be hosted in Minneapolis and with such a positive reception of the student mixer we encourage students to come join us. There will be postings in the coming months on the Students of SETAC’s Facebook and Twitter sites that will give information about next year’s student activities. Stay on the lookout. You will not want to miss any of the events!
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