Reflections on the SETAC AU 2023 Conference

Category: Our People

  12 Dec 2023

Sarah McDonald and Shelley Templeman

SETAC AU 2023 co-chairs

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, SETAC Australasia hosted its biennial conference in person in Townsville, the unofficial capital of Far North Queensland. The much-anticipated event is a highlight of the SETAC AU social calendar, providing the opportunity for long term SETACers and newcomers to come together and share their recent research, as well as bust out some moves on the dancefloor.

The theme of the 2023 conference “Source to sink: Engaging with stakeholders to protect our environment” recognised the need for interaction and open communication to prioritise the improvement and protection of the environment. The breadth of topics contained in the 2023 program facilitated the sharing of knowledge in the multiple disciplines of SETAC and encouraged the dissemination of ideas and solutions amongst research, industry and government.

The conference welcomed 278 delegates from across the Australasia region, as well as Brazil, Germany, South Korea and the United Kingdom. The abstract submissions for SETAC AU 2023 received great traction from delegates, with the most popular category being “Mico (Nano)Plastics: Identification, abundance and fate” with 32 submissions. The program featured 160 oral presentations across 32 concurrent sessions, as well as 23 poster presentations, setting a record for a SETAC AU conference. The five post-conference workshops were also well attended, as was the AIMS SeaSim tour.

Sponsorship and exhibition exceeded expectations, reaching 179% of the target set. The major sponsors were MERA (gold), TropWATER (silver), Agilent and AIMS (both bronze). In total, the conference profit was just over $28,000 AUD. This profit will be used for the 2025 SETAC AU conference, SETAC sponsored activities and events as well as SETAC AU prizes and awards.

The 2023 conference offered a record number of grants and awards to delegates including the inaugural Indigenous Travel Grant, 11 student travel awards sponsored by AINSE, 6 conference presentation awards and three MERA sponsored awards. Congratulations to all the conference award winners!

Indigenous Travel Grant – Francis Joyce

Student Travel Awards – Hannah Faraone, Anthony Evans, Md Rushna Alam, Milad Esmaeilbeigi, Subharthe Samandra, Sarah Green, Jack Manera, Gwilym Price, Kate Fergusson, Raidha Rafeeq and Simran Kaur

Presentation Awards – Sarah Green, James Bridson, Cath Neelamraju, Coral Jeffries, Jasmine Rasmussen and Marilla Ragagnin

MERA Awards – Farzana Kastury, Lisa Golding and Marie Thomas

CSIRO Ripples Award

Conference dinner dancefloor

All that is left is to thank our hard-working local organising committee (L-R Mikaela Nordborg, Heidi Luter, Madeline McKenzie (not pictured), Sarah McDonald, Shelley Templeman, Kathryn Hassell, Andrew Harford, and Brad Clarke) and the wider SETAC AU community.