SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
16 March 2017
Volume 18 Issue 3

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YES 2017 – “Environmental Science in a Warming World”

Lida Deermann, RWTH Aachen University, Germany and Kerstin Winkens, Stockholm University, Sweden

YES 2017 Meeting participants
Participants at the recent YES meeting gathered on the campus of Stockholm University.

The 6th Young Environmental Scientists (YES) Meeting was recently held from the 16–20 February 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. This was another productive meeting with 80 student and recent graduate attendees from 20 countries, representing all five geographic units of SETAC. Students and recent graduates gathered to present their research and participate in six short courses around this year’s theme of “Environmental Science in a Warming World.”

Stockholm University was a wonderful venue with green surroundings, comfortable lecture rooms and amazing volunteers, who made this event a real pleasure. During lunch breaks, participants enjoyed walks over frozen lakes while the sun was shining – a perfect addition to the scientific program.

As part of the Thursday opening ceremony, chairs of the SETAC Europe Student Advisory Council (Tomica Mišljenović, Petnica Science Center and University of Belgrade, and Katharina Heye, Frankfurt University) and the Local Organizing Committee (Damien Bolinius, Stockholm University, and Alexander Feckler, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) introduced the participants to the upcoming program and warmly welcomed the student delegates. The first social was in a relaxed atmosphere with laughter and Smörgåstårta, a traditional Swedish sandwich cake.

The initial conference day was dedicated to the theme of this year’s YES meeting. Workshops were held on subjects such as biogeochemical cycles, climate change effects on epidemiology of infectious diseases, climate change and the Baltic Sea, organic carbon and its influences on contaminants’ fate in the environment, climate change impacts on environmental quality standards and resilience of ecosystems, and they offered the participants new insights into this wide and diverse field of study.

YES 2017 Meeting poster presentation
A warm and nurturing atmosphere at the poster socials, the YES meeting was for several scientists their first exposure to a scientific conference.

Two session days followed, which gave scientists the chance to test their presentation skills. Poster and platform presentations covered nine different session topics, namely aquatic ecotoxicology, effect and exposure modeling, environmental analytical chemistry, environmental science and climate change, risk assessment and regulation, life cycle assessment, microplastics, molecular and genetic ecotoxicology, nanomaterials, -omics as the future for ecotoxicology, and terrestrial ecotoxicology. We are especially proud of the first-time climate change session and hope to establish this session at future YES meetings. To improve the students’ skills, every poster and platform presenter received evaluation forms, filled out by listeners, and they had the chance to discuss their results during the following socials.

To broaden the scientific content, six short courses were offered on the last day of the conference. Participants could choose between “The ecotoxicology of plastic marine debris,” “Chemicals legislation: Understanding and navigating the scene,” “How to make nice figures: The theory and practice of visual displays of quantitative information,” “Analysis of mercury in hair samples using dry-combustion atomic absorption spectrometry,” “What’s in your dust? An introduction to environmental mass spectrometry” and “Teaching in higher education: An overview.” Practical sessions were combined with fruitful discussions on shared experiences or newly learned tools. The mercury course received considerable attention during the closing ceremony because all conference attendees had the chance to donate a hair sample during poster socials. The students attending the course presented their analyses and showed that vegans had the biggest reason to celebrate since their mercury content in their hair samples was lowest. Fish lovers might rethink their eating habits – their mercury content was highest.

Ilona Riipinen
Ilona Riipinen, Stockholm University, was one of the inspiring and engaging speakers talking about careers.

Next to an interesting scientific program, everybody had the chance to enjoy candid and inspiring career talks held by speakers representing SETAC’s tripartite balance among academia, business and government. Erik Ribeli, Orbicon AB, represented a consulting company and didn’t lose his funny character. Ilona Riipinen, the youngest professor of Stockholm University, inspired young scientists to fight for their career wishes. Dragan Jevtić, former chair of the SETAC Europe Student Advisory Council, described his maze to a job at the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). These talks were very engaging and encouraged students to try out their interests in order to find a job suitable for them. All three stayed after their talks to take questions and join conversations, which was greatly appreciated by the YES meeting participants. Furthermore, Mirco Bundschuh gave a talk as a representative of the SETAC Europe Council and engaged the students to get actively involved in the society, which goes far beyond just annual meetings.

SETAC meetings are of course not only known for their high-quality content but also for their high-quality fun. A science slam was organized in a cozy, small villa by the Science Faculty Club of Stockholm University. The following evening, the same place turned into a dancefloor for our Saturday night dinner and party. After delicious Indian food, it was time to dance. One of the participants volunteered as DJ, played song requests from all over the world and transformed the Indian dinner into a cheerful international party. Even though dancing lasted until late hours, the students showed up during the next morning’s presentations and actively participated in the sessions throughout the day. That is the SETAC spirit!

After a fantastic and successful event, the closing ceremony started with momories from the past days captured in a magnificent photo slide show by Josef Koch. The chairs of the different councils thanked all sponsors, organizers, presenters and participants, who made the conference possible. The students of SETAC were invited to next year’s YES meeting, which will be held from 26–29 March 2018 in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin, USA, featuring the topic, “Stand up for science,“ and they were motivated to join the science slam at the upcoming SETAC Europe 27th Annual Meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

Even though five eventful and exhausting days had passed, nearly half of the participants gathered again for one final evening in a pub in town to blow off some steam and networked until late. Another YES meeting, organized by students for students, ended joyfully.

Once more we thank the SETAC Europe Student Advisory Council, scientific committee, session chairs, local organizing committee and volunteers, as well as all the sponsors and gracious career-talkers, workshop and course leaders. Last but not least, thanks to all participants! Altogether, we made this event a huge success.

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