SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
10 August 2017
Volume 18 Issue 8

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Regional Spotlight: Prairie Northern Chapter’s 8th Annual Meeting

Zachary Currie and Derek Green, University of Saskatchewan

The 8th Annual General Meeting and Conference of the SETAC North America Prairie Northern Chapter (PNC) was coordinated by the University of Saskatchewan’s Toxicology Centre and hosted from 15–16 June in the University’s Quance Theatre in Saskatoon, Canada. The conference was themed “Toxicology in the 21st Century: Applications of Prairie Research.” Proceedings began on 15 June with a short course, “Qualitative Wildlife Risk Assessments of Contaminated Sites and Development Proposals,” presented by Jean-Michel DeVink. The short course gave more than 50 attendees a walk-through of the process of ecological risk assessment (ERA) with a focus on contaminants as stressors and wildlife as receptors. The course provided real-world examples of how ERAs have been applied to proposed large-scale developments, the evaluation of risk from a regulatory approvals perspective and examples of ERA application in small-scale contaminated site assessments to determine the need for remediation.

Mark Hanson, Kristin Bianchini and Jose Rodriguez Gill
The awards ceremony for the meeting was held at Prairie Sun Brewery. The 1st place platform presentation was awarded to Kristin Bianchini, University of Saskatchewan (middle) by Mark Hanson (left) and Jose Rodriguez Gill (right). Photo credit: Stephanie Graves, University of Saskatchewan.

Following a brief evening break, the conference continued with the fourth annual Tox on Tap (ToT) at PNC hosted at The Woods Ale House. This year, ToT was pleased to present Greg Poelzer, a political scientist who spoke to a full house about “Donald Trump, the Paris Agreement, Climate Change, and the Future of the Global Energy Transition.” Poelzer’s talk was followed by a lively question and answer (Q&A) session that drew on his expertise as well as the expertise of attendees. The Q&A period transitioned into a casual opportunity for people to network, socialize and discuss our field of science.

The conference officially kicked off 16 June with more than 100 attendees filling the venue early in the morning. The plenary speakers, Vincent Palace of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Ken Coates of the University of Saskatchewan and Patrick Guiney, former president of SETAC, spoke throughout the day. They provided engaging and insightful presentations, respectively, on:

  • Planning and Conducting Environmental Science to Influence Policy: Lessons from the Experimental Lakes Area

  • Rethinking Resource Development: Indigenous Peoples, Technology, Environments and the Coming Transformation of the Extractive Industries
  • Science Integrity, Publication Bias and Normative Science in Ecotoxicology

In addition to the plenary speakers, platform presentations were delivered by members of the universities of Saskatchewan, Calgary and Manitoba, as well as EcoMetrix and Environment and Climate Change Canada. Platform topics covered a wide range of environmental toxicology issues concerning amphibians, fish, caribou, cyanobacteria, birds, invertebrates and locusts. Following the platform presentations, a wine-and-cheese poster social was held to highlight the current research of an additional 24 students and professional scientists from across the region.

The conference closed with a banquet hosted by Prairie Sun Brewery. The evening featured an exceptional buffet and craft beers, giant sized board games and karaoke. The buffet was followed by the announcement of prizes for the top student platform and poster presentations, which were awarded as follows:


  • First: Kristin Bianchini, University of Saskatchewan – Effects of dietary polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure on pre-migratory fueling in captively-dosed Sanderling
  • Second: Zachary Currie, University of Saskatchewan – The photo-induced toxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and a hydraulic oil in the amphibian species Xenopus laevis and Lithobates sylvaticus
  • Third: Melanie Gallant, University of Saskatchewan – Developmental sensitivity to benzo[a]pyrene-induced changes in immune and biotransformation-related gene expression in the amphibian Xenopus laevis


  • First: Dayna Schultz, University of Saskatchewan – Determination of acute and sub-chronic toxicity of emerging contaminants in early life stages of three Canadian fish species
  • Second: Blue Markwart, University of Saskatchewan – The influence of community composition on selenium bioconcentration in freshwater periphyton
  • Third: Zachary Currie, University of Saskatchewan – Toxicity of the water accommodated fraction of a petroleum-based hydraulic oil to aquatic organisms

The conference was made possible through the support of numerous sponsors, including the University of Saskatchewan, the Global Institute for Water Security, Syngenta, Agilent Technologies, Fisher Scientific, the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability, Areva, Stantec, CanNorth, Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, SETAC, Environment and Climate Change Canada, VWR, and the University of Saskatchewan’s Toxicology Centre and the College of Graduate Studies and Research.

We would like to sincerely thank everyone who attended and made this conference a success, as well as all of our presentation judges and volunteers, without whom this meeting would not have been possible. The organizing committee was led by graduate students Derek Green and Erin Maloney, and it included additional members of the Toxicology Graduate Student Association (TGSA), with administrative assistance from the University of Saskatchewan’s Toxicology Centre.

Planning is already underway for our 9th annual meeting, which will be held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We hope to see you there in June 2018!

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