6th Annual SETAC YES Meeting II – Presentations, Panels and Pub Crawls

Last post, Kym reported on the first day of the SETAC YES Meeting (Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry’s Young Environmental Scientists Meeting); the second and third days of the meeting consisted inter alia of the student platform and poster presentations.

Simon's presentation (Photo by K. Newton)

Simon’s presentation (Photo by K. Newton)

This year I was the very first student presentation on the very first day. Some people, would think I was unlucky, but for me that was great! Besides the fact that I would have liked a little more time to practice, it was over by 9:30 am and I could relax and enjoy the rest of the conference. I had a few nice comments about my presentation, including the comment that I didn’t say ‘uuummmmmm’ at all (which if you have ever given a speech or presentation, you know how hard that is), however, I seemed to have replaced my ‘uuummmmm’s with the word ‘basically,’ according to my friends. In general all of the presenters did a pretty good job and presented some pretty interesting research. One of the talks that stuck out to me was one student from the North East USA investigating gender manipulation in fish by the presence of artificial hormones in surface waters. What was interesting was in his study he was finding these hormones to cause a hyper-masculinization of males and masculinization of females in some species.

The second evening there was a pub crawl scheduled for five or six different pubs. This was a great environment to meet some of the participants at the conference, unfortunately as we were still a little jet lagged we only lasted for three of them before we called it a night.

The third day also consisted of student talks and poster presentations, but the academic schedule was finished off that day with a career panel. I must say, in my opinion, this was one of the most useful parts of the conference. Three professionals came to talk to us about their jobs, one from government, one from academia, and the last from industry/consulting. Hearing about their life paths and experiences was incredibly useful information. After each one spoke about their individual career, the floor was opened up to questions. It seems to me so rare to get the opportunity to really pick a professional’s brain and ask advice. This is so important in this day and age because of the global economic climate. We are all graduating into a world with limited jobs, being able to get advice from people in the work force on how to proceed can potentially be the difference between getting an interview or not.

That evening, we all met up again for another social at a local brewery. This place was awesome. It was not just a brewery, it was a games centre. There we were introduced to a game called “corn-hole” which I am guessing originated somewhere in the mid-west. Basically you through a bean-bag across a distance and try to toss it either on a slanted board or through a hole on this slanted board. It was one of those games that becomes slightly addictive, because you suck so bad and just really want to throw the bag through the hole. The other exciting game of the evening was Giant Jenga. While I am sure most of you have heard of it from The Big Bang Theory, has anyone actually played? It is so much more fun than normal Jenga. I think it is because of the threat of bodily harm. I know it sounds weird to call that more fun but it just adds to the suspense and heightens the excitement!

The last day consisted of two short courses, the genotyping course I took in the morning could have been a little better if there had been less people. I think it was meant to be a little more hands-on than it was, due to a little larger class size than expected. However, my afternoon class “how to get a job in academia” was really great. While it was geared a little more towards people trying to get a post doc or professorship, I felt like it was a lot of good information that I could apply to trying to get a funded PhD position. Honestly, and you may have picked up on this already, I really love the opportunity just to talk and ask questions to someone who is further along in their career at the moment. This can be a wealth of knowledge that you often can’t tap into without doing that sort of thing. After the courses the conference ended with a closing ceremony and a group photo, then we quickly rushed off in order to drop off our rental car at the Orlando Airport on time.

For anyone interested in more information about or attending the next YES meeting, the 2017 page isn’t up yet but you can check out facebook.com/studentsofsetac, or on twitter, or you can get in touch with the organization through email studentsofsetac@gmail.com.