The Value of Professional Association Membership

By Laurie Haws posted 05-23-2019 11:55 AM


Communique 2019 Issue 2 Masthead

Participants during the 2019 SOT Mentoring BreakfastThere are more than 60,000 trade and professional associations in the United States alone (The Power of A 2019), representing a multitude of employment sectors, industries, and careers. While individual reasons for joining an association may vary from person to person, research has found that the decision to join and retain or renew membership is determined largely by two key and equal factors: benefit to the individual and benefit to the profession at large (ASAE Foundation 2015; Community Brands 2017).

What does all this mean for you and your professional association of choice? SOT is continually evaluating its programs, activities, and priorities to make sure the Society provides meaningful and influential benefits and value to its members. Of the top benefits identified in a 2017 survey of 1,000 association members regarding why they maintained an association membership (Community Brands 2017), many such benefits are proudly provided by SOT to its members. But are you aware of all the benefits SOT offers? Here are the ways SOT aligns with top association benefits.

List of resources on the About SOT web pageCode of Ethics (identified as a top benefit by 55% of those surveyed)

Accessible under “Guiding Principles, Documents, and Policies” on the “About SOT” web page, the SOT Code of Ethics was adopted in 1985, and it has been revised three times, most recently in 2012. All SOT members are expected to adhere to the Code of Ethics, which includes providing “equal opportunity and equal consideration to all members without regard to sex, gender identity or expression, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious belief, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, or veteran status.” Thus, SOT supports efforts to address and eliminate harassment in the sciences, such as the actions being undertaken by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and is committed to diversity and inclusiveness in all its activities. 

Industry Information (52% of respondents)

Beyond this quarterly newsletter, SOT features the latest tox news and research through myriad resources.

Toxicological Sciences (ToxSci)

The Society’s official journal features cutting-edge toxicological research each month. As part of their membership, Full, Associate, Emeritus, Retired, and Honorary members receive electronic access to ToxSci and discounted print subscriptions, while Postdoctoral and Student members receive discounted electronic and print subscriptions. You can read ToxSci online anytime by logging in to the ToxSci website using your SOT credentials.

SOT on Social Media

SOT shares news and information daily on social media. Follow SOT on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for Society and toxicology updates—and don’t forget to follow ToxSci on Twitter.

Each year, more than 300 exhibitors display their products, services, and innovations during the SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo. These same exhibitors are available year-round to provide support and assistance to those engaged in toxicological pursuits. Contact information for all exhibitors is available on

Representing Members’ Interests (47% of respondents)

Individuals smiling during the Neurotoxicology Specialty Section receptionBy participating in the 18 Regional Chapters, 6 Special Interest Groups, and 29 Specialty Sections, SOT members can connect with like-minded colleagues to advance and explore topics of interest to them. Throughout the year, these groups host webinars and exchange information. From September to November of each year, many Regional Chapters hold in-person meetings to foster discussions and present new research, while the Special Interest Groups and Specialty Sections gather during the SOT Annual Meeting. For the latest webinar and meeting information, check the SOT “Meetings & Events” web page or the individual websites for the SOT Regional Chapters, Special Interest Groups, and Specialty Sections.

SOT members also can help promote their unique interests through the SOT Endowment Fund, which is a series of funds that support SOT programs and members. Each fund focuses on a specific priority designed to further toxicology and aid toxicologists—from supporting SOT strategic priorities to travel and education funding for students and early career scientists.

Fueling Growth of the Profession (44% of respondents)

From fostering interest in toxicology at the undergraduate level to providing opportunities for graduate students and postdocs, SOT has developed programs to support current and future toxicologists.

Undergraduates and Undergraduate Educators

Students reading a case study during the 2019 Undergraduate Education ProgramUndergraduates interested in learning more about toxicology or SOT are encouraged to become an SOT Undergraduate Student Affiliate—for free. As an affiliate, students receive access to education and award opportunities, SOT publications, and more.

SOT also works with educators to increase awareness of toxicology among science-focused undergraduates. By joining the SOT Undergraduate Educator Network, individuals can exchange ideas, tools, and resources related to toxicology education. For educators interested in bringing a toxicologist directly to their students, the SOT ToxScholar program provides funding for SOT members to make presentations about toxicology and toxicology careers to undergraduate audiences, especially at campuses that do not offer toxicology in their curricula; individuals can apply for ToxScholar support anytime while funds remain.

Graduate Students

SOT Student members are supported by the Graduate Student Leadership Committee (GSLC), which coordinates activities for graduate students and develops career development opportunities through webinars, Annual Meeting Scientific Sessions, the Chat with an Expert program, and more. Students who become involved in the GSLC also can serve on SOT committees and become part of Component Group leadership. Beyond the GSLC activities, all Student members are eligible for free membership in one Special Interest Group and one Specialty Section.

Postdoctoral Scholars

Individuals smiling during the 2019 Student/Postdoctoral Scholar MixerSOT Postdoctoral members are automatically members of the Postdoctoral Assembly (PDA). The PDA organizes activities and provides resources designed to promote scientific growth, networking, and career advancement for postdocs, including webinars, Annual Meeting Scientific Sessions, Poster Tours for Trainees, and more. Postdocs also are eligible for leadership positions within SOT committees and Components Groups and can join one Special Interest Group and one Specialty Section for free as part of their membership.

Beyond the career-specific activities, SOT and its Component Groups provide numerous award opportunities for each education level. Many of these awards, such as the Pfizer SOT Undergraduate Student Travel Awards and Graduate Student Travel Support, help fund travel to and the presentation of research during the SOT Annual Meeting.

Raising Awareness (42% of respondents)

SOT promotes the understanding and appropriate use of science in decision-making and policy development. To this end, SOT has developed statements on various topics illustrating the importance and role of toxicology in public, environmental, and animal health. The “SOT Statements” web page, which contains all SOT statements free for sharing, is available from the “Publications and News” web page.

In addition, SOT works with collaborative partners, such as the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), to raise awareness of the importance of science. SOT members looking for opportunities to take individual action to communicate with policy-makers and others should explore the FASEB toolkit and the AAAS Force for Science toolkit.

Certifications, Training, and Online Continuing Education (CE) (41%, 40%, and 35% of respondents, respectively)

List of Recordings and Webinars available on the SOT websiteDuring the SOT Annual Meeting, SOT presents CE courses and Education-Career Development Sessions to provide education and career growth opportunities to its members. For those unable to attend the meeting, many CE courses are recorded each year and are available as part of SOT CEd-Tox: Continuing Education Online. The CEd-Tox catalog contains 70 courses at affordable, convenient rates—plus, Student and Postdoc members receive free access, as do scientists from developing countries. The Education-Career Development Sessions also are recorded each year and are available on the “Presentations and Webinars” web page.

Also recorded and available on the SOT website are the SOT FDA Colloquia. Since 2014, SOT has partnered with the US Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition to host colloquia designed to present high-quality, cutting-edge, future-oriented toxicological science on issues related to food and ingredient safety. These colloquia are open at no cost to all who are interested—both through the in-person colloquia and webcasts of the proceedings, which are recorded and made available alongside other materials from each event.

For early career scientists, SOT has developed awards and programs to support training, research, and development opportunities, such as the Supplemental Training for Education Program (STEP) and the Graduate Intern Fellowship in Toxicology, among others.

Networking (39% of respondents)

With more than 8,100 members from 60+ countries working in academia, government, and industry, SOT represents the breadth of individuals, disciplines, and organizations working in toxicology. Through the online Membership Directory and ToXchange community, members can connect with other members anytime, anywhere.

For in-person connections, the SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo brings together more than 6,000 attendees and 300+ exhibitors each year, while smaller meetings, such as the Regional Chapter meetings, offer additional opportunities for connecting and exchanging ideas and research.

Fueling Innovation (39% of respondents)

For those interested in organizing scientific meetings in contemporary and rapidly progressing areas of toxicological sciences, SOT provides funding support through Contemporary Concepts in Toxicology (CCT). The intent of CCT meetings is to provide a forum for disseminating and discussing those developments that are likely to have the greatest importance for advancing the science of toxicology. In addition, the Collaborative Conferences Committee (formerly the CCT Organizing Committee) is focused on partnering with other scientific organizations to present toxicology-focused sessions during conferences focused on the biomedical and related sciences.

Recipients of the 2019 Colgate-Palmolive Grant for Alternative ResearchSOT also regularly updates members on grants and other opportunities that may be of interest to them through the members-only SOT Research Funding blog, and SOT provides some funding support for innovative toxicology-related research through SOT Supported Awards, such as the Colgate-Palmolive Grant for Alternative Research and Syngenta Fellowship Award in Human Health Applications of New Technologies.

Job Opportunities (36% of respondents)

The SOT Job Bank is a free resource for SOT members to explore open jobs in the toxicology field and presents employers with a cost-effective means of reaching potential employees for toxicology-related positions.

As evidenced by the opportunities and activities outlined above, SOT leadership—from Council to committee members to Component Group officers—works extremely hard year-round to ensure that SOT remains a society that is relevant in the scientific community and an asset to its members. We hope you find value in your membership, but never hesitate to provide feedback to improve the Society by contacting SOT Headquarters. Also, please consider volunteering to assist with the various programs and opportunities SOT provides.


ASAE Foundation. 2015. 7 Drivers of Membership. Washington, DC: ASAE.

Gaertner, D., A. Myers, and P. Smith. 2017. Member Loyalty Study: A Deep Dive into Member Retention and Preferences. St. Petersburg, FL: Community Brands, Inc.

Power of A, The. n.d. “Power of A Research.” Accessed May 10, 2019.