SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
13 July 2017
Volume 18 Issue 7

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Geographic Unit Annual Meetings: Helping to Make Our World a Little Smaller

Ikechukwu Onwura, SETAC Africa President

I have attended SETAC meetings since 2004, when I joined as a graduate student and the SETAC Europe 26th Annual Meeting in Nantes in 2016 still remains the most memorable. SETAC Nantes was my first appearance as SETAC Africa President. The meeting, which started with pre-conference marathon deliberations of the SETAC World Council on how to move SETAC globally to greater heights, gave me the first insight of the amount of energy being sacrificed by dedicated staff in Pensacola and Brussels offices in North America and Europe, respectively.

The opening ceremony was very captivating. The keynote speaker addressed the global menace of microplastics in the environment, especially the marine environment, and the attendant consequences on ecosystem integrity and human health.

The plenary sessions I attended were captivating and replete of impressive science. I particularly laud presenters of posters and platforms from the SETAC Africa geographic unit, though most of them reside in the United States, Europe or other developed countries where they are involved in research as graduate students or research fellows. One particular poster stood out to me as it addressed an issue confronting one of my graduate students in Nigeria. The poster gave me an insight into developing an idea and approach needed to complete the work. This is one of the very great impacts or benefits of attending SETAC meetings, where cross-fertilization of great scientific ideas occurs. I wish to use this opportunity to encourage graduate students and other scientists and scholars from Africa to submit their quality research papers for SETAC meetings around the globe. I would be greatly delighted to see a young environmental scientist from Africa receive the award for the best poster or platform presentation at the SETAC North America  38th Annual Meeting, which will be held from 12–16 November in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Another notable event at the Nantes meeting was the poster social, which provided great opportunities to encourage collaboration. It was at this meeting where all my past attempts yielded positive results. Also, the exhibitors were very friendly and readily answered questions concerning their products. One pit fall was that these exhibitors have almost no gateways in Africa. A few of the exhibitors have interests in South Africa, but to me, it is not good enough. I sincerely wish they would extend their interest to West, Central and East African countries.  Hopefully, with greater involvement with SETAC, these companies will realize the growing opportunities throughout Africa.

In conclusion, I wish to invite members of SETAC outside Africa to submit their abstracts for the SETAC Africa 8th Biennial Conference, which will be held from October 17–19 in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. I encourage you to come and enjoy the hospitable and pristine environment of Calabar in the southeast of Nigeria. Take advantage of the extended deadline, which ends on 21 July.

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