Spring has finally sprung throughout most of the United States—although many in the United States are ready to find that groundhog (Punxsutawney Phil) who annually forecasts what kind of spring we’ll have and have a chat with him! I finally received my first picture of flowers popping up from the ground at our home in northern Michigan at the end of April as did many of my friends in climates further south. With this seasonal change also comes the change in leadership of our Society. As I take the reins, I am humbled by the opportunity you have given me to serve you. I remember my first SOT Annual Meeting in Miami and my first poster—I still have a picture somewhere of me in my charcoal grey wool suit standing by it. I remember meeting scientists there who became mentors scientifically and professionally and with whom I still connect today. Over the years, that network of scientific friends and colleagues has grown enormously and still has an impact on my career. I’ve watched new students come into our Society and seen them grow into vibrant, independent scientists actively engaged with SOT. Like so many of you, I enjoy our Annual Meeting not only for the outstanding science, but as a place to renew friendships, make new ones, and hopefully find ways to encourage and mentor our future leaders.
A big THANK YOU to the Scientific Program Committee (SPC), Continuing Education (CE) Committee, and other organizing groups; our 40 meeting supporters; our 300+ exhibitors; and the more than 6,100 scientists who participated in our 57th Annual Meeting and ToxExpo. We had more than 170 Scientific Sessions, which included 14 CE courses, 2,500+ poster presentations, and 70 independent Exhibitor-Hosted Sessions. As I write this, it’s hard to believe that we are already actively in the throes of Scientific Session proposal submissions and review for 2019. SOT Vice President Ron Hines and Vice President-Elect George Daston, Chair and Co-Chair respectively of the SPC this year, are already hard at work planning some of the activities and events for our meeting next year in Baltimore. (I asked them to work on the weather forecast, and I’m convinced the odds are in our favor next year!)
Last year, the SOT Council focused on several activities throughout the year, including a strategic review of Toxicological Sciences and the Annual Meeting, discussions around how to maximize the value of our Endowment Fund, and expanding our outreach and impact globally by officially joining FASEB and actively appointing SOT members to its key committees and by enhancing our involvement with AAAS. In San Antonio, you saw some of the tweaks we made to the Annual Meeting, including reverting back to a single Monday Plenary Lecture and the move to all-day poster viewing. We also had a special session in honor of the 20th anniversary of Toxicological Sciences and a Hot Topic Session on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Our goal continues to be to enhance the experience of all attendees while making sure we have plenty of high-quality scientific exchange and opportunities for networking. Attendees commenting to me directly and those completing the survey favored many of the changes this year, so we will retain them at the meeting in Baltimore and will look for ways to continue to improve upon them. Additionally, you will be hearing more in the upcoming months about a new format we will be exploring next year as well: 90-minute Symposium and Workshop Sessions.
So what’s on the agenda for 2018–2019? Council has two key objectives for this coming year. The first is to develop a new Strategic Plan that will guide our activities for the next four to five years. Norb Kaminski led us through the last plan, and the work of Council under the steadfast leadership of Peter Goering, John Morris, and Patti Ganey has ensured that we have met the strategic priorities set forth in that last plan. This summer, we will be conducting an environmental scan to help us understand where we are and where we believe we may need to go in the future—and this scan is not just a Council activity. We will be engaging many members of the Society for input, and I strongly encourage you to actively participate if you are called upon. I can say with honesty that when I’m asked to participate in a variety of surveys, my knee-jerk response is often “I don’t have time for this right now,” and I’m sure many of you feel the same. We are all so busy and we have survey fatigue—I sometimes don’t even want to complete a Doodle poll! But I urge you to take the time and participate whether it is a survey or a teleconference focus group. This is your Society. We want it to continue to provide the kind of value—for you and our next generation of leaders—in the future that it has in the past. And we can’t do that without your input. I’ll be updating you as we move forward about our activities on the Strategic Plan.
The second key objective for Council will be accomplished in conjunction with the Board of Publications (BOP). After five years in his current role, Toxicological Sciences Editor-in-Chief (EIC) Gary Miller has decided that when his term expires in June 2019, it’s time for a different challenge, and he will be turning the reins over to a new EIC. In this issue of the Communiqué, Wei Zheng, Chair of the BOP, pays tribute to Gary’s accomplishments and discusses the EIC search. You may have seen the banner advertisement on the SOT website homepage regarding the EIC search. The BOP is now soliciting applications for the position. As Wei notes in his article, the EIC is expected to exhibit leadership and strategic vision for the journal, a commitment to its mission of publishing the most influential research in toxicology, and the highest level of integrity and professionalism. The desired individual will have strong credentials in toxicology and will value excellence in research and scholarship. If you are interested, please see Wei’s article for how to apply. Importantly, if you know someone who would be an excellent EIC candidate, please encourage them to apply. The review process begins soon (June 1)!
Before I sign off, I’d like to thank Patti Ganey for all the support she has provided me the past two years. I see why students think so highly of her. She’s been an excellent mentor and never fails to be inclusive, so I’ve been able to learn quite a bit for my new role. And thank you as well to our outgoing Past President, John Morris, for his support as well. He never fails to make me think. Patti noted in her first President’s Message the importance of the commitment of all our volunteers without whom the Society would not be what it is. I couldn’t agree more. And I’m grateful for all the councilpersons with whom I have served in the past and for those on Council this year. We’ve got quite a bit to do, and I’m looking forward to working with you and for this great Society we call our “professional home.”