The SOT Component Groups—Regional Chapters, Specialty Sections, and Special Interest Groups—continue to contribute to the Society’s mission by serving micro-communities of members with specialized areas of interest within the larger SOT membership. Among these Component Groups are the 18 Regional Chapters, which allow for forums of exchange specific to different regions of the United States, each with their own concerns. Nearly four decades after the first SOT Regional Chapters were formed, these groups continue to play an integral role in the scientific exchange that occurs within the Society.
A Brief History
In 1979, Council surveyed the membership to ascertain the general opinion regarding the creation of Regional Chapters and Specialty Sections and found that the majority of the membership was in support.1 The first SOT Regional Chapters were formed in 1981, under the direction of an ad hoc Committee and Task Force recommending their establishment.1 The four inaugural SOT Regional Chapters—the Michigan Regional Chapter, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter, the Midwest Regional Chapter, and the North Carolina Regional Chapter—are still in existence today.
Since the founding of the first four Regional Chapters in 1981, 14 additional groups have been formed, the most recent being the Northland Regional Chapter, which was established in 1998. The 18 Regional Chapters span the nation, representing toxicologists located as far north as Ontario, Canada, to as far south as Florida, as well as coast to coast.
With more than 3,400 members, SOT Regional Chapters have developed into thriving communities within the Society. Much of the work accomplished through Regional Chapters throughout the year culminates in Regional Chapter meetings, during which members and nonmembers gather to network, make connections, and share their research. Regional Chapter meetings, usually held between September and November each year, also are the venue for recognizing the accomplishments of Regional Chapter participants: many Regional Chapters bestow awards on their members to recognize toxicologists for their contributions.
Christie M. Sayes, PhD, President of the Lone Star Regional Chapter (LSSOT), notes that through more than a decade of participation in LSSOT, she has benefited from collaboration that occurs during the LSSOT meetings. “Because our chapter has members from academia, industry, and consulting groups, the information exchanged at our annual Fall meetings has been a valuable asset to professionals and trainees alike,” Dr. Sayes notes, adding that, like other Regional Chapters, “Lone Star members are supportive of each other in each other’s careers and research endeavors.”
In addition to personal networking, the connections and conversation among Regional Chapter members allows participants to network on behalf of others. Chad M. Vezina, PhD, President of the Midwest Regional Chapter, notes that participating in the group allows him to serve the students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Graduate Program, of which he is the Director. “Over half of our graduates seek positions in industry and government,” Dr. Vezina says. “My regional chapter connects me to potential employers and my conversations with them make me a more effective advisor and educator.”
Finally, Regional Chapters provide an outlet for serving the Society. Dinah Misner, PhD, President of the Northern California Regional Chapter, notes that “when an opportunity arose to put my name in to run for the board, I eagerly accepted, seeing how much I have benefited over the years, and hope to encourage others to carry on the tradition and keep giving back!” she says. Dr. Vezina also views his Regional Chapter service in much the same way, noting, “I serve as President of the Midwest Regional Chapter as a way to give back for the many years of support provided by SOT.”
Regional Chapter Communication and Collaboration Group
Although the Regional Chapters function separately to serve the communities for which they are named, the groups as a whole are overseen by the Regional Chapter Communication and Collaboration Group. This is an internal advisory council developed to “escalate Regional Chapter global issues, to strengthen national support for, ensure the sustainability of, and encourage collaboration among Regional Chapters, with the ultimate goal of improving the promotion of science of toxicology at the regional level.”2 The group is composed of 18 members, each representing a different Regional Chapter, and meets several times annually to create a space for open dialogue and idea dissemination among the Regional Chapters.
Joining a Regional Chapter
Regional Chapters offer an accessible platform for exchanging ideas and research. Both SOT members and nonmembers may join one or many Regional Chapters, and dues vary by group. SOT members may join by visiting the “Join an SOT Component Group” web page on the SOT website while logged in. Nonmembers should visit the appropriate Regional Chapter website to learn more about the membership application process.
In addition, the Regional Chapter meetings each year are open to members and nonmembers alike. An up-to-date list of upcoming meetings is available on the “Meetings and Events” web page.
1Hays, Harry W., and Florence M. Carleton. 1986. Society of Toxicology History: 1961–1986. Society of Toxicology. http://www.toxicology.org/about/history/docs/SOTHistory_revised.pdf.
2Society of Toxicology. n.d. “Regional Chapters.” Accessed August 19, 2019. https://www.toxicology.org/groups/rc/rc.asp.