Recently, I attended my first in-person conference, the Nontarget Analysis for Environmental Risk Assessment SETAC Focused Topic Meeting. It was held in Durham, NC, USA from May 22 -26 2022, and it was a very intense week filled with interesting talks, posters, and meetings with other scientists. It was very nice to put a face to some people that I’ve only heard the names of before, as well as meeting new people. The conference had in total around 250 participants, of who around 150 was there in person and the rest attended online. The first day, Sunday, was mainly welcome and registration day, while on Monday to Wednesday, it was a fully packed schedule. I was very happy to get to present my work and preliminary results on the NORMAN collaborative trial on comparison of semi-quantification methods on Monday. It was appreciated to get some valuable feedback and ideas, both from collaborators in this trial but also from others attending the conference.
The week offered interesting discussions on whether for example databases should be limited to contain just relevant compounds for matching purposes, or if they instead should be larger to limit the non-targeted analysis as little as possible. It was also a general consensus that non-targeted analysis is moving more towards quantitative possibilities, and that one major bottleneck is related to data processing and how well automated tools actually work. What I really enjoyed with this conference was that there were basically no overlapping sessions, which means that it was possible to watch all talks. I especially enjoyed a talk by Tobias Bader from Landeswasserversorgung in Germany, who presented work where they were able to track pharmaceutical emissions from industry into river water used for producing drinking water. Another interesting talk was about how on-site screening of water in real time was made possible by placing an online solid phase extraction-LC system coupled to an Orbitrap mass spectrometer on a trailer. Their platform was called MS2field and the work was presented by Heinz Singer from Eawag.
Other than meeting all the interesting persons at the conference, I also really enjoyed the town where the conference was held. It was not a place I would have visited otherwise but I ended up having a really nice time there and meeting some nice people.