This article reports on the second Young Environmental Scientists Meeting that was hosted from 28 February to 2 March 2011 by the Institute for Environmental Research at RWTH Aachen University, Germany. This extraordinary meeting was again initiated and organized by the Student Advisory Council under the umbrella of Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Europe. A movie about the meeting and the abstracts of poster and platform presentations are freely available as supplemental material of this article.
The second Young Environmental Scientists Meeting (YES Meeting) was hosted from 28 February to 2 March 2011 by the Institute for Environmental Research at RWTH Aachen University, Germany http://www.bio5.rwth-aachen.de webcite. This extraordinary meeting was again initiated and organized by the Student Advisory Council (SAC) in liaison with the local organization committee and the scientific committee under the umbrella of Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Europe. The chair persons of these committees, namely Markus Brinkmann, Sabrina Peddinghaus (both RWTH Aachen University, Germany), and Dominic Kaiser (Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany) ensured a scientifically ambitious and fruitful meeting in a pleasant ambience under the motto "Environmental challenges in a changing world".
Just like 2009 in Landau, Germany, this student-only meeting was again exclusively organized by students and with the well-known special benefits for students: no conference fees were charged and every participant received a travel grant. Due to the remarkable financial support by the "Fonds der Chemischen Industrie" (FCI) of the German Chemical Association (VCI), the Rector of RWTH Aachen University, The Interdisciplinary Forums of RWTH Aachen University, ProRWTH, SETAC Europe, the SETAC Europe German Language Branch, Wimek/SENSE, Environmental Sciences Europe, and a number of companies (BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dr. Knoell Consult, Harlan Laboratories Ltd., Hydrotox, Syngenta), it was possible to announce full reimbursements of travel expenses for all participants invited to present their work during the YES meeting.
The scientific committee peer reviewed more than 130 abstracts in the field of nanoparticles, omics and biomarkers, aquatic and terrestrial ecotoxicology, modeling, environmental chemistry, management, and remediation techniques and finally invited 90 presenters from all over the world. Due to the selection process, not the financial situation but the quality of the submitted abstracts was the main aspect for invitation. Thus, the overall quality of presentations was very good, meeting the SETAC motto: "quality through science". Environmental issues at the cutting edge of science were presented in 44 platform and 46 poster presentations. An extended time for discussion of 15 min after each platform presentation gave room for in-depth discussions on one of the seven sessions covering the broad spectrum of science represented by SETAC. Besides the idea of the financial support, the student-only atmosphere is one of the key aspects of the meeting, which leads to unstressed and fruitful discussions.
During his amazing workshop "Written and spoken science - Guidance to excellent publications and presentations", Dr. Peter Chapman (Golder Associates, Vancouver, Canada) highlighted vital aspects of writing papers and preparing posters or platform presentations (Figure 1). In interactive group working slots, the students discussed and practiced presentation techniques and their critical view on scientific publications. The extraordinarily positive feedback from students demonstrates not only the demand for such lessons but also the enormous engagement Peter showed during his workshop (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Peter Chapman during his workshop "Written and spoken science - Guidance to excellent publications and presentations". (Photograph: Sebastian Hudjetz).
Career talks - a regular SAC activity - given by Prof. Dr. Juliane Hollender (EAWAG, Switzerland) and Dr. Steve Maund (Syngenta, Switzerland) provided important and very personal insights into career planning and what it is like to work at a federal research institute or in industry, respectively. Both senior scientists assured that a well-developed scientific network is crucial for career progress, and therefore highlighted the importance of such meetings, where students from all over the world come together.
The Job Corner allowed representatives from some of the meeting sponsors, namely BASF, Dr. Knoell Consult, and Harlan Laboratories Ltd. to introduce their companies to the participants, who had the chance to get in contact with potential future employers. The participating companies attracted a lot of students asking for jobs as well as internships
"Environmental challenges in a changing world" were identified through the presentations of the participants and then were discussed. So the main theme of the meeting was carried out.
A feedback questionnaire about the meeting reflected the expectations of the organizers well: Most of the participants considered this meeting very valuable and a good chance for first timers to get familiar with scientific meetings. According to the participants, what was preferable in particular was the scientific spirit during the congress which was not clouded by strategic considerations but driven by the curiosity for the research of their fellow students.
Apparently, the 2nd YES meeting turned out to be again a great success and thus will be kept as a fixed event within the SAC.
In order to promote the activities of the SAC and to present the results of YES to a broader audience, a video clip of the meeting has been prepared by Matthias Leonhard Berens. The video (Link), as well as abstracts of poster and platform presentations (Link) are freely accessible as supplemental material (see additional files 1 and 2) of this article. The presenters and titles of platform presentations given during the meeting are given in Table 1.
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Table 1. Platform presentations given in one of the seven sessions during the second YES Meeting (Aachen, Germany)
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
All authors were involved in the organization and/or conduction of the meeting and have read and approved the final manuscript.
The Student Advisory Council wants to thank all sponsors, supporters, the local organizers, all participants, Juliane and Steve, and especially Peter for their considerable support and for the great time we all had during the meeting. We also want to acknowledge Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com) for providing royalty-free music for the meeting movie which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
This meeting report is an extended version of the SETAC Globe article published in the 2011 April issue by the Student Advisory Council of SETAC Europe.