I am a biological scientist with an education in economics. Over the last three decades I have specialized in the economics of animal health, livestock production and livestock food systems. This interest was born at an early stage from working on the family dairy farm, milking cows, helping keep records and getting involved in the general health of the cows and the bigger issues of ridding the farm of brucellosis and warble fly.
My first degree was in Natural Sciences at Cambridge University specialising in animal production and nutrition. My Masters in agricultural economics at the University of Reading was a two year course and involved a year's research at the Institute for Veterinary Biologicals and Animal Health in Bangalore, India. My research focussed on the smallholder dairy sector and the impact of endemic and contagious diseases. I first saw foot and mouth disease, rinderpest and anthrax during this time. My time in India was initiated by Peter and Mary Ellis, who supervised and inspired me during my year overseas and continue to do so.
On completion of my Masters I joined the Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics Research Unit (VEERU), University of Reading as a research fellow under the supervision of Andrew James. I developed and taught a livestock economics course on VEERU’s MSc programme and carried out animal health economics consultancies in Europe and Africa. I also completed my doctorate on the role of livestock in mixed farming systems of India and Kenya developing household and herd simulation models from the field data collected that was examined by Alt Dijkhuizen.
In 1997 I joined a DFID funded epidemiology and disease surveillance project in Bolivia as the livestock economist. The project made assessments of the livestock and marketing systems, the impact of the major livestock diseases and developed a strong surveillance network through the use of both formal and participatory methods. At the end of project in 2001, I established a consultancy company in La Paz, Bolivia implementing projects on livestock development and animal health both in Bolivia, in the Latin American region, Africa, UK and Nepal. I worked with a range of organisations such as FAO, EU, DFID, IICA, ILRI, DANIDA, GTZ and USAID.
From Bolivia I moved to FAO in Rome, Italy in 2006. I was part of a global team dealing with the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 threats. In my first year I worked mainly in Egypt, and in the second year I took responsibility for the global FAO programme on socio-economics work for HPAI. This involved inputs on the impact of HPAI, cost-effectiveness of surveillance and vaccination and the use of value chain analysis to refine and improve risk assessments.
I moved to the Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health Group at the Royal Veterinary College, London in 2009 initially as a Senior Lecturer. In January 2013 I was awarded a personal chair in Animal Health Economics, and from January 2014 I held the Norbrook endowed chair in Veterinary Business Management. At RVC I managed a range of animal health, food systems and One Health projects that involved fieldwork in Europe, Africa and Asia. Most recently I led scoping studies on the use of antimicrobials and AMR in the livestock sector which were funded by OECD, Fleming Fund/Wellcome Trust and OIE with the World Bank.
In 2016 I joined the Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool as the N8 chair in Animal Health and Food Systems Economics (http://www.n8research.org.uk/research-focus/agri-food/). I look forward to continuing to work in the area of the economics of animal health. I will also be extending this work into understanding how food systems influence health:
- directly in the form of pathogen emergence and
- indirectly through flows of food into the human population leading to problems of malnutrition (under and over) and through wider impacts on the environment.