SETAC North American 42nd Annual Meeting: It’s a New Era for Scientific Meetings

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By Michael Aschner posted 06-17-2021 15:51

  

I am pleased to share this announcement of the upcoming Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry North American 42nd Annual Meeting. This message was authored by Tamar Schlekat, Scientific Affairs Manager, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

The year 2020 marked a new era in scientific meetings at all scientific societies, including SOT. At the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), the global pandemic propelled us to make some long-overdue changes to our meeting design, which had been locked into a comfortable template despite huge advancements in science communication methods. At SETAC, we are determined to build on the momentum and will continue to innovate while we recognize that this year will be unique since we’re still dealing with the effects of the pandemic.

Over the last 10 years, the world made huge strides in technology, social media exploded, and there has been wide and growing interest in improving science communication and advocacy for inclusion. At the same time, there were many advancements made to presentation styles and poster designs, yet SETAC was still comfortably towing a traditional approach. However, restrictions on travel and social interactions because of the global pandemic forced the society to embrace modernization, which improved accessibility through the use of better science communication approaches, and this in turn led to more equity and inclusion and furthered sustainability and open science.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, SETAC has held three successful fully virtual meetings. We plan to build on those successes and apply the lessons learned to hold the SETAC North American 42nd Annual Meeting as the first SETAC hybrid meeting, held in Portland, Oregon, and online. While we cannot predict conditions in the United States or elsewhere, we have decided to stay optimistic and forge boldly into the future. We will continue to advance our mission by creating a safe and welcoming forum for all attendees to discuss solutions with respect to our community and environment—whether they want to attend in person, cannot travel, or choose not to travel. Moreover, taking this unique approach will work toward advancing science in an inclusive way, improve our commitment to sustainability, and reduce our carbon footprint. To achieve a successful meeting, we are taking measures to ensure an engaging experience for all attendees.

In designing the hybrid meeting format, we reflected on what meeting participants appreciated most, namely not having to miss presentations during the virtual meetings because of overlap. So we will once again provide on-demand presentations this year. In the meeting survey, participants asked for more time in advance of the meeting to prepare for the many complementary activities, including live sessions. Therefore, we plan to open on-demand presentations a week ahead of the meeting. During the week of the meeting, we are focusing on engagement opportunities that require live participation, developing many networking activities for in-person and virtual attendees. For the in-person event in Portland, we have revamped the daily schedule and added several activities to make the most of our time together.

We will have numerous live parallel sessions bookending lunchtime in Portland, as usual, though they may be a bit different in format. We are planning several special sessions on select topics of interest. These special sessions will be composed of keynotes talks, panel discussions, and even cooking demos (if rumors are true)!

We heard loud and clear that meeting participants enjoyed the live—and often lively—session discussions we held during the virtual meetings, so we are incorporating them into this hybrid meeting. Live session discussions will kick off with a round of five-minute lightning talks, where presenters will share salient points, referring to their on-demand presentation for details, after which moderators are expected to lead high-level discussions. The proposed topics complement the on-demand sessions and are quite diverse, promising something for everyone, including chemists, ecotoxicologists, toxicologists, managers, system thinkers, and regulators, among other scientists. Of particular interest to SOT members, we are planning sessions on the following topics: adverse outcome pathways, new approach methodologies, gastrointestinal toxicology, immunotoxicology, bioinformatics, endocrinology, and toxicogenomics, as well as human health risk assessment and environmental justice–related issues.

We are very excited to expand the in-person poster socials to a daily Meet the Presenters and Exhibitors event, followed by more intimate, topical mixers, which we hosted recently and for which we had overwhelmingly positive feedback. They provide a networking opportunity with others in their specialty fields, so we incorporated them into the in-person meeting in Portland. We expect a return of the science communicators, STEM educators, and plastics people, to name a few. We are also aware that some of the side events are best in person, so those events will be available only to those in attendance.

Plan to join us! Whether we see you in a Zoom room or in real life, we certainly hope to connect with you at the SETAC North American 42nd Annual Meeting.


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