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

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Message from the SETAC Science Manager: Environmental Sciences for a Sustainable Future

Tamar Schlekat, SETAC Scientific Affairs Manager

Sunset in Gulf Breeze

By the time this issue of the Globe is published, I will have spent a month as the incoming SETAC Scientific Affairs Manager in preparation for the retirement of Bruce Vigon at the end of the year. I spent my time alternating between Pensacola, Florida, and my home in the Research Triangle Park (RTP) area of North Carolina, delving into the many aspects of SETAC in which I was not fully versed as a member. 

I spent my first week in Pensacola, getting acquainted with the SETAC North America (SNA) staff. I had the opportunity to tour the USEPA Laboratory in Gulf Breeze, although my trip was cut short due to the approach of Hurricane Matthew. To me, meeting with USEPA personnel and seeing the impacts of Matthew highlighted the evolution of the environmental sciences represented by SETAC. While SETAC started as a society for environmental toxicologists and chemists, it has quickly grown, and now, due to changes in our environment, SETAC encompasses far-reaching innovative scientific fields such as ecosystem services and environmental resiliency. Addressing these issues represents both a vital responsibility as well as a great opportunity for our membership.

Back on my home turf in RTP, I had the opportunity to meet with Tom Augspurger, the incoming SETAC North America President. I also interacted with the SNA Board of Directors, the SETAC World Council and the SNA Science Committee. This allowed me to develop an understanding of the SETAC leadership’s perspective on the future of our society. I have also had the chance to familiarize myself with the Global Horizon Scanning project, which examines SETAC’s future through a wider view. These experiences highlight that we as a society are at the cusp of a pivotal moment in our history, where we should place a special emphasis on integrated, cross-disciplinary initiatives that will enable us to find sustainable solutions to the environmental challenges we face. 

My goal over the next few months is to develop an operational and strategic plan for the direction of the science office, based on input from the entire SETAC community. Operationally, I am committed to working closely with our membership at large, interest groups (advisory groups), regional chapters as well as SETAC Global Partners and SETAC Sustaining and Affiliate Members on advancing science issues within SETAC. Strategically, I intend to focus on the science related goals outlined in the long-range plan, which includes nurturing interests groups and fostering successful technical workshops and Pellston Workshops® and focused topic meetings. I will also be involved in the technical training initiatives and any professional certification program we may choose to implement. 

On a personal note, I have been affiliated with SETAC since 1997. For the majority of my career, I have practiced ecological and human health risk assessment; as such, SETAC has always been my scientific home. If SETAC is your scientific home as well, I urge you to increase your involvement to maximize what SETAC can do for you and your career. Please consider joining an interest group (by checking it in your SETAC profile) or donating some of your time to one of the many SETAC committees. As with any organization, the more you get involved, the more you will get out of your membership, and SETAC will be better placed for future success.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any ideas or suggestions regarding science-related topics at SETAC. See you in Orlando!

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