SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
14 June 2018
Volume 19 Issue 6

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Reflections from the SETAC Europe Immediate Past President

Anne Alix, SETAC Europe Immediate Past President

Anne AlixDear SETAC members, dear readers,

A year ago (already!), I took up the presidency of SETAC Europe, and it has been the most rich and enlightening role I have ever had the privilege of serving within our society. Enlightening because of the challenges that the SETAC Europe Council tackled all through the year, but also because in the role as a president, you get to dive deep into each and every topic of a meeting agenda and all other aspects of the society. This takes you to the heart of a working scientific society and gives you a better understanding of what it needs to better function and to meet its objectives. And, rich and enlightening because on top of everything, you get to meet a lot of great people (Yes, I mean YOU, the members).

A scientific society gathers its members around shared values. This year, we wanted to take a close look at our membership, our values as scientists, how we define these values and share them with our members, but also how, in turn, we value our members and their work. Initiating such an exercise implies taking the time to listen, understand, dialogue, consult and accept to challenge ourselves and our practices. This challenge is necessary for us to be able to better address your expectations from SETAC, not only when we meet at annual meetings but all throughout the year—in your daily life as scientists in a laboratory, university, regulatory and governmental organization, as a student, doctor, professor, practitioner, science photographer, science fan...  The outcome of our rich and honest exchanges and consultations is embedded in the new SETAC Europe strategic goals, and this will be further enriched by the feedback of a survey, initiated during the SETAC Europe 28th Annual Meeting in Rome, Italy, and to be completed through a questionnaire that you will be able to take online. The council and I will be looking forward to your thoughts. Your opinion will help us shape the society and incorporate the changes that are needed to better serve you.

Alongside this important piece of work, we have also been looking at providing SETAC with more sustained support and a source of advice for the society’s development. Dedicated “development committees” have been created in Europe and in North America, which are working together to advise the respective SETAC councils and boards on how to improve our sustainability, taking into account how membership fees, partnerships and sponsors balance into our budget and to optimize the way we function and value members, partners and sponsors. This work is de facto generating ideas for new services to our members, partners and sponsors and feeds back into the strategic goals defined this year. The list of ideas is getting longer after each meeting, and a few projects were initiated this year to begin accomplishing our goals. But looking back to this list, I can only witness the commitment and creativity of the volunteers in these committees that will ultimately contribute to SETAC’s development.   

A number of other tasks and objectives kept us busy this year, and focusing on recognition, I will mention awards and scientific partnerships. Reviewing our awards program gives us the chance to improve the way we value scientists for their work and life as a scientist, in alignment with the values of our society. This year features, for example, revisions of the Young Scientists Award, Environmental Education Award, Best Publication Award and Return to Science Grant, and we are discussing adding new awards for science-based risk communication and government service. Finally, this year saw the reinforcement of SETAC scientific partnerships with other scientific societies and organizations.  A new scientific partnership is emblematic because it shows openness, shared values between two organizations, and the shared willingness to deliver better science through collaboration on common projects. Collaboration at annual meetings, with expert groups and through educational programs and trainings are being discussed, which are important steps in SETAC’s development and recognition for its role in the scientific community.

An enlightening year then, to say the least. For all the exchanges and dialogues I have had the chance to be involved in within the SETAC Europe Council, the SETAC World Council, all of the committees, the scientists involved in the diverse interest groups and workshops, all the magicians of the SETAC Brussels and Pensacola offices, all the students, buddies and all of you whom I met by a poster, in a line for a coffee or a stronger drink, or on the steps to a meeting room, I thank you!  Thank you for sharing your thoughts or just your “thank you” words.  All of them count in a scientist’s, and human’s life, and give you the energy to embrace the role of a SETAC president. I look forward to our next encounters and collaboration within SETAC, or when our tracks cross again!

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