2024 Annual Meeting Report: DEI Is Imperative for Greatness

By Margaret Whittaker posted 19 days ago


A few years ago, I was asked what makes a great toxicologist. The question caught me off-guard as I struggled to convey a complex recipe that can’t be found in any toxicology textbook. Of course, maintaining a solid grip on the principles of toxicology as well as life sciences and physical sciences is a must for any great toxicologist, but that will only get you part of the way to greatness. You’ll need to read this entire blog to learn the secret and appreciate why diversity and inclusivity are part of it.

A 2024 Roundtable Session on diversity, equity, and inclusion demonstrated that SOT is nudging all SOT members in a direction toward “greatness” by emphasizing the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Society’s four Guiding Principles include “diversity of representation in all activities of the Society.”

The five presenters of the session brought different viewpoints on diversity and inclusivity to the table:

  • In her presentation titled “Accessibility and Equity of Women in a Changing World,” Judith Zelikoff identified four basic principles for humans everywhere: appreciation, connectedness, respect, and serving a fulfilling role in society.
  • Troy Roepke, current President of the SOT Out Toxicologists and Allies Special Interest Group offered his words of wisdom on promoting inclusivity for 2S/LGBTQIA+ toxicologists, including normalizing use of requested pronouns (she/her/he/his/they, among others), collecting data on members of the 2S/LGBTQIA+ community in epidemiological studies on environmental exposures, and stressing the importance of inclusivity training.
  • Teresa Palacio-Hernandez, Past President of the SOT Hispanic Organization of Toxicologists Special Interest Group educated attendees on differences between Hispanic/Latino/LatinX definitions, with great advice for new toxicologists (“never give up!”).

As exemplified by the session speakers, the secret to being a great toxicologist (in my humble opinion) is to immerse yourself in the teachings of toxicology throughout your career, actively invite others into the “knowledge pool” where your contributions will ripple across time and geography, and seek out diversity. Life doesn’t leave room for many do-overs, so there is no better time than the present to start working on your greatness!

This blog reports on the Roundtable Session titled “Current Status of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Toxicology: SOT Special Interest Groups as Models” that was held during the 2024 SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo. An on-demand recording of this session is available for meeting registrants on the SOT Online Planner and SOT Event App.

This blog was prepared by an SOT Reporter and represents the views of the author. SOT Reporters are SOT members who volunteer to write about sessions and events in which they participate during the SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo. SOT does not propose or endorse any position by posting this article. If you are interested in participating in the SOT Reporter program in the future, please email SOT Headquarters.