SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
7 September 2017
Volume 18 Issue 9

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Global Student Membership Survey Raw Data and Summary Results for SETAC North America

Samuel Haddad, Baylor University; Stephanie Graves, University of Saskatchewan; Alexis Wormington, University of Florida; Faith Lambert, University of Florida; Amanda Buerger, University of Florida; and David Dreier, University of Florida

SETAC stands as a flagship of environmental service, research and stewardship because of the implementation of the three-sector approach (academia, government and business).  Since its conception in 1979, SETAC has grown to a global initiative representing the power of willing collaboration among environmental professionals. There is no other organization quite like SETAC with regard to training future environmental professionals. As such, SETAC represents the most powerful vehicle by which students, the future of environmental service, research and stewardship, can become empowered to succeed. Students are also the future of SETAC, and as such it is important for SETAC to gain insight from our members.   

NASAC students in Orlando, 2016

The 2016 Global Student Membership Survey consisted of 38 questions and was compiled by a number of SETAC members globally. The survey was designed by student for students in an effort to gather relevant data for stakeholders (members, interest groups, committees) to address a gap in knowledge. Contributing members included Laura Swanson, Austin Gray, Blair Paulik, David Dreier, Gustavo Souza Santos, Rhys Cartlidge, Nicole McRae, Francesca Gissi, Katharina Heye, Tomica Mišljenovic, Greg Schiefer, Ted Valenti, Michelle Hornberger, Diana Eignor and Doris Vidal-Dorsch.

Globally, 701 of 1,400 students (50 % return) responded to the survey.  The raw results presented within this article are intended to be used to continue to improve SETAC services (networking, training, meetings, employment, etc.) for students. Results from this survey have already been used to influence decisions that benefit students from all major geographic units. To date, survey results have influenced types of vendors, social events, networking events and professional training courses that were present at the 7th SETAC World Congress/SETAC North America 37th Annual Meeting in Orlando in 2016 and will be present at the SETAC North America 38th Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At the end of this article, links are provided to download all raw data and geographically filtered data from the survey, except for three questions containing individual emails of participants.    

Furthermore, 299 students responded to the 2016 North American Student Membership Survey. This summary highlights findings from the survey pertaining to North American students. In response to the results presented within this article, the North American Student Advisory Council (NASAC) is currently constructing a one-page standalone document called “SETAC 101” that outlines student opportunities within SETAC and at the annual meetings. Ultimately, the vision for this document is to be printed and distributed with the program book at annual meetings. 


Currently, 68.8% of SETAC North America students are in Ph.D. programs, 28.8% are in Masters programs and about 2% are undergraduates. Membership in North America is composed of 42.3% of students who are first-year members and 67.7% are continuing members. 71% of students plan on maintaining their memberships into early career. The three largest major science areas identified are environmental chemistry (44.5%), classic toxicology (34.6%) and biology (33.2%). 41.9% of all students are not involved with their regional chapter. 65.3% of all students are attending the annual meeting, and 43.5% of all students attend their regional chapter meetings.  

Membership Services and Benefits

The most important benefit of membership with SETAC according to students are networking (83.5%) and career development (60.5%). Students ranked membership benefits on a scale of 1–5, and all categories were ranked above 3. SETAC meetings scored the highest at 4.4, collaborations, scientific communications, student activities and journal access all scored above 4. Mentor activity, developing country activities, interest groups involvement and career development all scored below 4, indicating students would like to see improvement from these categories. 62.5% of students would like to be more involved with SETAC but indicated they weren’t aware of how to further their involvement. 37.5% of students are not interested in being more involved with SETAC. Those students who are interested in further involvement would like to work in career development opportunities (29.8%), student support for meetings (29.0%), scientific publishing (23.0%), workshops or focus topic meetings (21.0%) and social events (19.4%).

SETAC Communication

65.3% of students are using the website to gain information. 44.0% of students would like more frequent emails, while 35.9% would like to see the use of Facebook more often, and 23.7% would like to see the use of LinkedIn more often.

Career and Networking

82.6% of students have identified being able to effectively network at SETAC. To optimize networking opportunities, students would like more career path opportunities (54.4%), greater emphasis on regional meetings (40.9%) and more social activities at SETAC meetings (40.9%).  95% of students want SETAC to continue to provide professional training such as the leadership short course. Students would like to see more awards and scholarships offered for student travel (59.7%), young researcher recognition (59.3%), research support (33.6%), best paper award (30.5%), and education and teaching (29.6%).  

Interest Groups

Nearly 4 of 5 students identified a lack of understanding about SETAC Interest Groups or felt that these organizations were intimidating (82%). 22.2% of students are affiliated with an Interest Group in some form. Students would like to see Interest Groups offer topic-specific awards (69.4%) for travel (46.3%) and young researcher (42.4%). 57.4% of students identified that they would like to be more involved with Interest Groups, while 64.4% of student did not know how to join Interest Groups.

North American Committees

67.3% of students had a lack of understanding about North American committees. 82.7% of students are not involved with North American committees. Students involved with committees are in the Career Development Committee (3.0%), Membership Committee (3.0%), Regional Chapters Committee (5.0%), Science Committee (1.0%), Student Activities (2.0%) and NASAC (8.9%). 38.1% of North American students said that they would be interested in being part of North American committees, while 68% of students identified that they did not know how to join North American committees. 

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