SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
3 November 2016
Volume 17 Issue 11

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SETAC UK Branch - Student Meeting at the Prestigious Oxford Union

Michelle Bloor, SETAC UK Branch President

The first SETAC United Kingdom (UK) Student Meeting took place on 22 September at the Oxford Union, the home of the prestigious debating society whose past presidents include William Gladstone (1907), Edward Heath (1939), Benazir Bhutto (1977) and Boris Johnson (1986). The goal of the event was to provide students with a safe and secure environment to practice being scientists, increasing their confidence and developing their skills, including networking and presenting their research.

The SETAC UK Council also took the opportunity to establish a SETAC UK Student Council at the event and 15 of the 37 delegates signed up to participate in this venture. Katherine Lees, a third-year Ph.D. student at the University of Plymouth, has been appointed as the first President of the Student Council, so congratulations are due to her. The Student Council will work alongside the main UK Council to organize future student events, and we also hope to establish a mentoring scheme.

Students attending the meeting were required to become SETAC members, but the event was free to attend with no registration fees, which helped to create an inclusive environment. There was also an opportunity to enter a travel bursary competition with five £100 prizes available for answers to the question, “How can SETAC UK help you with your research and future professional development?” Congratulations to the winners Verena Riedl, University of York, Katherine Lees, University of Plymouth, Hie Ling Wong, University of York, Emma Chapman, University of Hull, and Tasila Mwale, University of Salford, who were awarded their prizes and certificates at the meeting by SETAC Europe President Jose Julio Ortega-Calvo. The SETAC UK Council will reflect on the students’ answers to feed forward into future events.

The meeting included talks from the SETAC UK President Michelle Bloor, SETAC Europe President Jose Julio Ortega Calvo, Charles Tyler from the University of Exeter, Richard Pancost from the University of Bristol, and award-winning environmental photographer  Ashley Cooper from Global Warming Images. The talks were followed by a careers workshop, which was co-ordinated by SETAC UK Vice President Vera Jones and focused on the SETAC tripartite approach of academia, business and government. Facilitators of the workshop included:

  • Academia: Charles Tyler, University of Exeter, and Richard Pancost, University of Bristol
  • Business: James Wheeler, Dow AgroSciences, and Dean Leverett, wca   
  • Government: Danielle Ashton, UK Environment Agency, and Andy Smith, CEFAS

Andy Miah of the University of Salford subsequently concluded the morning session with an interactive workshop on how to use social media to present research. In contrast, the afternoon session was a poster conference during which time the students presented their own research and peer reviewed the other delegates’ posters. Congratulations to Siti Syuhaida Mohamed Yunus, University of York, and Rana Aljaibachi, University of Reading, who won the best poster prizes. We hope you both enjoy the SETAC Europe 27th Anuual Meeting, which will take place from 7–11 May in Brussels.

The meeting was well received, and the students left with a range of new skills and experiences. Work has now begun on the 2017 student meeting, which will be held on 21 September at the Oxford Union, so add the date to your diary! The 2017 meeting will include an interactive training workshop on science communication, and the students will present their research in a series of five-minute “soap box style” oral presentations.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped make the meeting possible–our speakers, sponsors Dow AgroSciences, wca, EAG, Enviresearch, NC3Rs, Ramboll ENVIRON, Smithers Viscient, Oxford Union staff and the SETAC UK Council. Thank you!

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the 2017 student meeting should contact us at

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