SEGH Events

How to organise an SEGH conference, meeting or event

31 December 2020
Interested in organising an SEGH conference, meeting or event? Please read our helpful how-to guide with information on what type of event you can run, event requirements and budget planning.


1 Introduction & Overview

The major activity of SEGH is to promote, internationally, conferences and symposia addressing the main aims of the Society (Appendix and www.segh.net), to encourage active debate and discussion on pressing research issues for experienced and early career researchers (ECR) in academia, governmental and non-governmental organisations, business and industry.

Annual international meetings are held, moving between Europe, Asia/Pacific, Africa and the Americas; we also encourage locally organised one-day meetings to be held under the Society’s banner. The Society has global membership and the Board seeks to include all regions in events. Currently, SEGH promotes three types of event:

A. The International Symposium on Environmental Geochemistry (ISEG)

This is the key International meeting on Environmental Geochemistry, held every 3 years since 1991, jointly promoted by SEGH, International Association of Geochemistry, and the International Medical Geology Association (IMGA). The meeting is typically 4-5 days (+ field trips) attracting ~200-300 + delegates, with parallel sessions and has support from a number of relevant organisations.

B. The annual international SEGH conference

This annual meeting typically attracts ~80-120 delegates, with the more recent meetings being three days plus field trip plus workshops. These meetings are friendly but academic, with stimulating keynote addresses exploring interesting themes and ideas. Through the oral and poster sessions, these meetings provide an opportunity for experienced and more junior researchers, and students, to promote their own work and receive thoughtful critiques from peers and knowledgeable colleagues.

C. Specific, focused workshops, symposia or task force activities

These are less regular events, in a variety of formats (e.g. one-day meetings, jointly hosted or longer working group activities). A specific focus or a timely issue normally stimulates the organisation and SEGH has been able to support a number of such events which have had significant impact on the scientific community.

Since the 1980s many successful regional SEGH conferences have been held in Europe; the International board are keen to promote regional activities more widely.

 

2 Publications arising from meetings

The meetings have often resulted in special issues of the Society’s journal Environmental Geochemistry & Health (http://www.segh.net/Journal/). Examples include:

Environmental Chromium contamination and remediation. 2001; 23(3);

Changes in Soil Quality & Its Remediation. 2004: 26(2-3);

Arsenic in the Environment – Risks & Management Strategies, 2009; 31(S1);

Environment & Human Health. 2009; 31(2);

Practical Applications of Medical Geology. 2010; 32 (6);

Environmental Quality and Human Health. 2011; 33(4);

The Geochemical Environment and Human Health. 2012; 34(6).

Environmental Geochemistry and Health. 2015; 37(6).

Please speak with the SEGH chair well in advance of the conference if you would like to coordinate a special issue linked to the meeting.

 

3 Support from SEGH and the structure of events

There are few if any rules, but SEGH, over the last 30 years of activity, has developed a loose format and process which has been successful:

  • The typical format for the annual international SEGH meeting is for three days of presentations, with an optional field visit. The meeting includes a few keynote speakers, which follow the normal, as well as a few unusual, topics of SEGH interest. We hope for a broad set of topics, so our members can see a place to offer presentations, but also learn something new. The link between environment and health remains a core theme. More recently, workshops have been run outside the main meeting (both before and/or after the main meeting days, but before the field trip). Workshops can be organised by the conference committee or a call for proposals made at an appropriate point early in the advertising of the meeting.
  • A typical format for the annual international SEGH conference would be:
    • Day 1 registration, workshops, and informal reception/ice breaker; SEGH Board Meeting (typically on Day 1 before the evening ice-breaker)
    • Day 2 oral/poster sessions
    • Day 3 oral/poster sessions
    • Day 4 oral/poster sessions
    • Day 5 fieldtrip, workshops
    • Time for Annual General Meeting during the main meeting at a suitable point (one-hour maximum): reports, nominations, board membership and hosting of future meetings
    • Time for a presentation about the next meeting presentation (not at the end when people have left), typically five minutes; maximum 10.
    • An ECR lunch. The aim of the lunch is to welcome the new annual intake of ECRs onto the SEGH mentorship scheme. Here a buffet style lunch is preferred to allow the mixing of the new intake with each other, but also with SEGH mentors. As such, this free lunch for up to 30 (approx. 20 ECR and 10 mentors) needs to be planned into the budget. For this meeting, we use a fairly loose definition of ECR, but ideally within 3-4 years of completing PhD; PhD students can be included although the main focus should be on those who are research assistants/associates or in the later stages of their projects. SEGH operate the mentorship scheme on a first come first served basis; the first 20 ECRs to register for the conference and tick yes for the scheme will gain entry to the free networking lunch.
  • While we expect the international meetings to be cost neutral at worst, and ideally to make a surplus, smaller 1-2 day events will need underpinning by the host organisation, while regional groups can apply to SEGH for some backing to keep their activities going.
  • We do not encourage parallel sessions: it is very difficult in practice to ensure such sessions are working to the same timetable, giving rise to frustrations when delegates move between sessions and miss something important. In the typical SEGH meeting with <130 delegates, parallel sessions are not needed.
  • The registration fee should offer a discounted fee for members of SEGH (we have member and student/retired member grades) and a non-member fee which includes annual SEGH membership (this membership fee is paid to SEGH at least 2 weeks before the meeting by the conference organisers). Day rates are also encouraged.
  • SEGH will support (and typically co-ordinate and help judge) prizes for best student oral and poster presentations. Marking guidelines and proformas are available from the SEGH secretary.
  • Any surplus from the conference is normally split between SEGH and the organisers. The split is negotiable but the organisers should anticipate not less than 30% of any surplus is payable to the society.  
  • SEGH board and members will support the host with advice on organisational aspects, getting contacts and in disseminating/advertising the event to their own networks, as well as providing many of the delegates.
  • Poster sessions should have dedicated time and place, and not just be held in a coffee/lunch break. Clearly assigned sessions, with accompanying flash presentations or break-out groups for discussions around posters – perhaps two evenings for posters around drinks, for example - enable more people to have an opportunity to present.
  • Guidelines should be provided on what constitutes a good talk, and what makes a good poster. We are fortunate that SEGH meetings typically have a mixed professional audience and presenters need to consider the extent of usage of professional jargon. As such, presentations should target a broad, but informed audience. Furthermore, it is essential that all presenters (oral and poster) are reminded to include the implications for human, animal and/or environmental health of their work.

 

4 Questions for organisers

Have you considered the following issues, and whether you:

I. Have support from your institution – are you able to get reduced costs of room hire, facilities, IT support, delegate Wi-Fi access, etc?

II. Can obtain support, grants or sponsorship from networks/organisations?

III. Can access website space and support for a conference web site?

IV. Can access efficient on-line registration (and payment) facilities? SEGH is developing such a system in-house, which will be available to all conference organisers should this be required.

V. Have organisational support from colleagues (and student helpers) to set up and run the event?

VI. Can provide a good social element for the meeting – conference dinner and mixer events?

VII. Can set a fee level which will attract delegates and ensure breakeven/minor profit from the meeting?

VIII. Can provide access to suitable accommodation and ensure the logistics of arrival at the conference venue is straight forward? Providing a number of options for delegates is ideal, some will bring accompanying persons, others will have a very restricted budget.

 

5 Budget for SEGH Meeting

An outline budget is attached with this document (Excel spreadsheet), giving a list of typical items to cost into any budget proposal, so that proposers and organisers have not missed any costs.

Also include the following into the budget to ensure they are covered by the standard registration fee:

- Free ECR and mentors lunch (min. 30 places)

- Workshop(s) (liaise with the President over workshop topic(s)).

- Delegates rate to include membership fees for non-members (payable to SEGH)

- The ice-breaker event

- Honorary one-year SEGH membership for invited keynote speakers (payable to SEGH) where non-members are invited

- Also consider including the following in the standard registration fee:

- The conference dinner

Support from experienced SEGH committee members around what, in reality, these budget items can entail can be of great value to the new host team.

Sponsorship should be sought, as it is in the organisers own interest to make the conference budget balance. Sponsorship helps keep student (and retired) fees down, without elevating non-member/member fees excessively. Members pay reduced rates over non-members, although in practice the differential equates to the membership fee (subsequently paid to SEGH before the meeting).

As many of the social events as possible should be included in the conference fee, enabling a good number of delegates to attend.

 

6 Hosting SEGH meetings

The SEGH Board welcomes offers to host SEGH supported meetings and events. The Board meets regularly, and local members are encouraged to identify hosts and stimulate the organisation of meetings. The Board coordinates the programme of meetings, reviewing proposals and accepting/nominating hosts for events. This includes synchronising meetings and forward planning to try to ensure SEGH supported meetings do not clash with other related events.

Anyone wishing to host a meeting should send a proposal to the SEGH Board through the chair. The proposal should cover the following points:

I. Place and time of the meeting, including the host institution.

II. An outline programme, including the main themes for the meeting.

III. An outline social programme.

IV. Any proposed field trip and outline workshops.

V. An outline budget.

VI. Support available from the host institution and staff/students.

 

Appendix

SEGH Aims

SEGH was established in 1971 to provide a forum for scientists from various disciplines to work together in understanding the interaction between the geochemical environment and the health of plants, animals, and humans. We recognise the importance of interdisciplinary research. SEGH members represent expertise in a diverse range of scientific fields, such as biology, engineering, geology, hydrology, epidemiology, chemistry, medicine, nutrition, and toxicology. Source: www.segh.net

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Science in the News

Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Agro-ecological suitability assessment of Chinese Medicinal Yam under future climate change 2019-10-15

    Abstract

    Chinese Medicinal Yam (CMY) has been prescribed as medicinal food for thousand years in China by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners. Its medical benefits include nourishing the stomach and spleen to improve digestion, replenishing lung and kidney, etc., according to the TCM literature. As living standard rises and public health awareness improves in recent years, the potential medicinal benefits of CMY have attracted increasing attention in China. It has been found that the observed climate change in last several decades, together with the change in economic structure, has driven significant shift in the pattern of the traditional CMY planting areas. To identify suitable planting area for CMY in the near future is critical for ensuring the quality and supply quantity of CMY, guiding the layout of CMY industry, and safeguarding the sustainable development of CMY resources for public health. In this study, we first collect 30-year records of CMY varieties and their corresponding phenology and agro-meteorological observations. We then consolidate these data and use them to enrich and update the eco-physiological parameters of CMY in the agro-ecological zone (AEZ) model. The updated CMY varieties and AEZ model are validated using the historical planting area and production under observed climate conditions. After the successful validation, we use the updated AEZ model to simulate the potential yield of CMY and identify the suitable planting regions under future climate projections in China. This study shows that regions with high ecological similarity to the genuine and core producing areas of CMY mainly distribute in eastern Henan, southeastern Hebei, and western Shandong. The climate suitability of these areas will be improved due to global warming in the next 50 years, and therefore, they will continue to be the most suitable CMY planting regions.

  • Application of stable isotopes and dissolved ions for monitoring landfill leachate contamination 2019-10-15

    Abstract

    We evaluated groundwater contamination by landfill leachate at a municipal landfill and characterized isotopic and hydrogeochemical evidence of the degradation and natural attenuation of buried organic matter at the study site. Dissolved ion content was generally much higher in the leachate than in the surrounding groundwater. The leachate was characterized by highly elevated bicarbonate and ammonium levels and a lack of nitrate and sulfate, indicating generation under anoxic conditions. Leachate δD and δ13CDIC values were much higher than those of the surrounding groundwater; some groundwater samples near the landfill showed a significant contamination by the leachate plume. Hydrochemical characteristics of the groundwater suggest that aquifer geology in the study area plays a key role in controlling the natural attenuation of leachate plumes in this oxygen-limited environment.

  • Lead transfer into the vegetation layer growing naturally in a Pb-contaminated site 2019-10-10

    Abstract

    The lead was one of the main elements in the glazes used to colour ceramic tiles. Due to its presence, ceramic sludge has been a source of environmental pollution since this dangerous waste has been often spread into the soil without any measures of pollution control. These contaminated sites are often located close to industrial sites in the peri-urban areas, thus representing a considerable hazard to the human and ecosystem health. In this study, we investigated the lead transfer into the vegetation layer (Phragmites australis, Salix alba and Sambucus nigra) growing naturally along a Pb-contaminated ditch bank. The analysis showed a different lead accumulation among the species and their plant tissues. Salix trees were not affected by the Pb contamination, possibly because their roots mainly develop below the contaminated deposit. Differently, Sambucus accumulated high concentrations of lead in all plant tissues and fruits, representing a potential source of biomagnification. Phragmites accumulated large amounts of lead in the rhizomes and, considering its homogeneous distribution on the site, was used to map the contamination. Analysing the Pb concentration within plant tissues, we got at the same time information about the spread, the history of the contamination and the relative risks. Finally, we discussed the role of natural recolonizing plants for the soil pollution mitigation and their capacity on decreasing soil erosion and water run-off.