SETAC North America Session Chair Job Description and Guidance

The role of Session Chairs and Co-chairs at SETAC North America annual meetings is important to the success of the sessions. The purpose of these guidelines is to assist you in chairing a session. If you have any questions, please contact or +1 850 469 1500 ext. 101.

Session Selection Process

All session proposals will be submitted using the SETAC online Meeting Management System (MMS) before the deadline.

After the submission deadline, all proposed sessions will first be reviewed by the SNA Science Committee

  • This review is only to make sure all areas of science SNA wants presented at this meeting are included in the session proposals.
  • This is a quick review (25 February – 9 March 2016)
  • This review will also include review and input from the Global Science Committee for a SETAC World Congress.
  • If an area is not represented, the science committee will use MMS via a private link to add additional sessions before their review deadline.
    • The sessions must have at least one chair assigned. If a chair is not known at the time of the submission, the submitter must assign themselves as a chair and can later find a replacement.

The second session review will be performed by the abstract review committee (10 – 28 March 2016)

  • The abstract review committee is created by the meeting chairs with assistance from the SNA office. The committee comprises 10 members representing (best effort) all 3 sectors and all areas of science presented at a SETAC meeting.
  • The committee will review all session submissions and determine if they are applicable for this SETAC meeting.
  • If needed, the committee will reject, combine or ask for clarification from the session submitter before including the session in the call for abstracts.
  • During this review, with help from the Special Symposia sub-committee, sessions labeled as “Spotlight Sessions” will be identified.
    • During session submission, the submitter has the option to check the box labeled “Please consider including this as a spotlight (special symposium) session.”
    • Any session with this box checked will be reviewed for inclusion in the labeling of a “spotlight session”.
    • The sessions will retain the “track” they are categorized in for listing in the meeting programs and will be labeled as “spotlight session” for marketing, highlighting and room assignment.
    • Two session rooms will be labeled “spotlight session” rooms at the meeting and all “spotlight sessions” will be scheduled in these two rooms.
      • This will allow for a maximum of 16 slots available for “spotlight sessions” during the meeting.
    • Sessions chosen by the committee to be labeled as “Spotlight Sessions” will be asked to provide more information to the committee to be used for marketing and justification.

Once the committee is finished reviewing the sessions, an email will be sent to the submitter of the session informing them that the session is or is not tentatively accepted as a session for this meeting and will or will not be included in the call for abstracts.

All tentatively accepted sessions included in the call for abstracts, even if labeled as “spotlight session”, are not guaranteed a session slot in the final program and must still get the abstract submissions and final approval by the abstract review committee during the abstract review meeting in June.

Before the Meeting

Once the Program Committee has accepted a session proposal, the responsibilities of the Session Chair or Co-chair include:

  • Each platform session consists of 8 presentations. Please select a maximum of 5–6  designated presenters for your core group that you specifically recruit to be included in your session. The remaining slots will be filled with other abstracts that were submitted to your session. All quality abstract submissions in your session that cannot fit into your platform session will be accepted into the corresponding poster session. Please keep in mind that we seek to have sessions that:
  1. Provide a balance among professionals on a multisectors, interdisciplinary and multinational basis
  2. Have good science
  3. Present a well-rounded perspective on the session topic
  • Critically review all submitted abstracts in their assigned session and provide recommendations for the acceptance or rejection of each abstract. Give written comments through the website to the Abstract Review Committee regarding recommendations for the best final slate of 8 platform presentations, remaining poster presentations and any other recommendations that would be helpful to the Committee. Guidance on how to access and review the abstracts on the SETAC database is provided by the SETAC office via email.
  • Organize the flow of the platform and corresponding poster sessions so that presentations collectively “tell a story” or present a completed body of research, when appropriate to the session topic. Posters of similar content, related research or by the same author should be grouped together as well.
  • Ensure that as a group the platform presentations provide a well-rounded perspective on the session topic
  • Ensure a balance among the presenters from government, business and academia, and include student presentations
  • Each Session Chair is required to pay for registration and attend the meeting

Timeline and Specific Duties

November–24 February

  • Chair or Co-chairs submit session proposals


  • SETAC North America office sends session acceptance decisions to Chairs and Co-Chairs


  • General call for abstracts opens.


  • SETAC North America office emails Chairs and Co-chairs information on how to access and review abstracts online. Chairs and Co-chairs recruit designated abstracts and can start viewing and reviewing abstracts submitted to their session.


  • General call for abstracts closes (check with abstract announcements for specific deadline)
  • Between mid-May and mid-June, Chairs or Co-chairs prioritize the list of abstracts for inclusion in their platform and poster sessions. The Chairs should log in and select the abstracts they recommend to be accepted as poster or platform and any comments they wish to provide to the committee during the review process.
  • After the abstract review committee meets in June to review all comments and recommendations from chairs and create the final program, Chairs or Co-chairs are asked to sort the accepted abstracts into time slots within their session and create session continuity.


  • SETAC North America office posts the final program online and prepares printed meeting program


  • Chairs and Co-chairs contact platform and poster presenters to ensure they are aware of the presentation requirements and the consequences of canceling and “no-shows,” and the need to find alternate presenter of the material if necessary; and to discuss other logistical information.

At the Meeting

Prior to and during the session:

  • Arrive at the session room 30 minutes prior to the start of the session
  • Ensure all presentations are loaded and speakers are present. Introduce yourself to the speakers and check name pronunciation and affiliations
  • Meet your AV technician to review equipment. Familiarize yourself with location of light switches, switches at podium and check operation of laser pointers
  • Advise audience that NO photography, audio or video recording of presentations is allowed. Inform SETAC about any abuse of those rules or other unprofessional conduct.
  • Start and keep the session on time. Signal speakers at 12 minutes. Stop speaker at 15 minutes. You MUST STAY ON SCHEDULE. It is VERY important that you keep your speakers on schedule and NEVER start or end a speaker early or late. It is VERY important that all sessions are in sync with each other to allow the audience to move between sessions without missing any part of a presentation.
  • Field questions for the speaker, and limit questions or comments that are very long or monopolize the speaker’s time. Intervene if questions become unprofessional.
  • Ask and encourage questions after each platform talk if there are none from the audience. Try to start a discussion if there is a canceled or “no-show” presentation.
  • There will be 5 minutes between each presentation. DO NOT start the next presentation early or allow the previous presentation more time, and keep each session on schedule so audience members have time to switch rooms. Announce to the audience when each presentation time slot is over, and make them feel comfortable to change to another session if desired. During this 5-minute transition period, the chair should encourage discussions or field questions to presenters or audience in order to keep the session lively between talks but not allow any presentation to continue after the allotted 15-minute time slot.

Code of Conduct

Appropriate, professional behavior is expected of every presenter, each of whom agreed to the following when they submitted their abstract:

SETAC is committed to ethical professional conduct. To ensure Environmental Quality through Science®, SETAC meetings serve as open forums for environmental professionals to present the findings of their scientific research. The opinions and ideas expressed are those of the individual, not of the Society.

By encouraging open discussion and exchange of ideas, SETAC meetings help bring the scientific weight-of-evidence to bear in answering environmental toxicology and chemistry questions. Only through support by data and peer-reviewed publications do scientific findings stand the test of time. Ultimately, these findings are accepted or rejected by an individual’s peers, not by an organization like SETAC.

Presenters at all SETAC meetings worldwide are expected to be civil and to be professional in their words and actions. When you submit an abstract to SETAC, you agree to meet these expectations. SETAC reserves the right to suspend the privileges of presenting at SETAC meetings if such presenters are deemed to be in violation of the code of conduct rules.

The SETAC North America Board of Directors and the Program Committee will support your professional judgment in addressing any speaker who does not treat you, the audience members or other presenters in a civil manner. You have the authority to remind a speaker that he or she agreed to a “Code of Conduct” and to warn the speaker if their words or actions are out of line and unacceptable.

If a speaker persists in rude or unprofessional behavior, the Session Chair has the authority to turn off the projector and inform the audience that the presentation has ended because the speaker violated the code of conduct that she/he agreed to when they submitted their abstract.

Use your dignity and professionalism as Session Chair to maintain control of the session and to make sure that other speakers have the opportunity to make their presentations.

Intervention in the form of blocking the speaker from the audience or any physical restraint is strongly discouraged. However, do not hesitate to ask a Program Committee member or an audience member to contact the SETAC staff if a speaker will not be quiet and leave the stage.