Posted 27 March 2015
Harper Adams Senior Lecturer Philip Robinson was one of 17 UK early career researchers who travelled to Brazil earlier this month to take part in a research workshop with Brazilian equivalents on the “One Health - One Welfare” approach to animal and human well-being.
The workshop, jointly funded by the UK Government’s Newton Fund and FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation) and organised by the University of Surrey and the University of São Paulo, laid the ground for UK and Brazilian veterinarians, animal and human health economists, ecologists, social scientists and others to take an interdisciplinary approach to safeguarding the health and welfare of people and animals through research collaboration.
“It was a great honour for me to be selected to attend this workshop, and I found it a very interesting and rewarding experience. Around 70 per cent of newly emerging infectious diseases in humans have originated in animals, and it’s important to look at how the attitudes and behaviours of people affect the success of disease control measures in both humans and animals.
“The workshop allowed us the opportunity to think of ways to take a more holistic approach to health, considering the spread of infectious diseases, but also considering animal welfare, and the influences of ecology, socio-economics and the environment.
“We plan to develop projects with teams of academics from both countries, and this workshop was about generating the ideas” explained Dr Robinson, who has taken a social science approach to veterinary research for the last five years and who is the UK’s only Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Recognised Specialist in State Veterinary Medicine.
Having qualified in veterinary medicine from Glasgow University in 1996, he worked as a private veterinary practitioner in mixed general practice in Northern Ireland and Scotland, before spending 12 years as a government veterinary field officer and epidemiologist with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in Northern Ireland.
In 2010 Dr Robinson was awarded a NI Civil Service US-UK Fulbright Scholarship at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, where he conducted a research project on diagnostic sample submission to veterinary laboratories. This was where he first applied a social science methodology to veterinary research, conducting focus group interviews in Mississippi and then repeating them back in Northern Ireland – and finding a lot of similarities.
His research interest sparked, he moved over to England in 2011 to undertake a PhD in the Geography Department of Durham University, qualitatively researching factors affecting bovine tuberculosis eradication efforts in Northern Ireland.
Dr Robinson recently achieved the status of RCVS Recognised Specialist in State Veterinary Medicine thanks to 12 years’ experience as a government vet, a Diploma in State Veterinary Medicine from the RCVS, an MSc degree in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, and his PhD at Durham University.
To be included on the list of RCVS Recognised Specialists, an individual must have achieved a postgraduate qualification at least at Diploma level, and must satisfy the RCVS that they make an active contribution to their specialty, have national and international acclaim, and publish widely in their field.
Dr Robinson was delighted to be recognised as the first RCVS Specialist in State Veterinary Medicine: “This is the culmination of many years of postgraduate study combined with experience and research in the field, and it has been incredibly stimulating. My veterinary career has allowed me to travel to different parts of the world to see animals in very different contexts, and to share experiences with other people involved in agriculture and veterinary science – we have much to learn from each other. I hope to continue to apply the knowledge and skills I have gained to my teaching and research roles here at Harper Adams University.”
Dr Robinson joined the staff of the Animal Production, Welfare and Veterinary Sciences Department at Harper Adams University as a Senior Lecturer in Farm Animal Health and Welfare in October 2014 - his first teaching role. When he is not sharing his expertise and real-world experience with students, his research interests lie in farm animal disease epidemiology, veterinary surveillance, enzootic disease control, and the use of qualitative research methodologies at the interface of the natural and social sciences.