By Dan Roberts
The devastating effects of the 2015 avian influenza outbreak in the United States, resulting in a loss of over 50 million poultry birds, was the catalyst that drove me to apply for a Nuffield Scholarship.
I was concerned about what such an outbreak could mean to both the UK poultry sector and the public, particularly as a long-term employee of Faccenda Foods. I believed the global Scholarship would supply vital ideas and strategies to mitigate the risk of the disease on our shores.
While I had the privilege of talking to many diverse and inspirational people during my Scholarship, it also opened doors to meeting university academics in the US. They changed my approach to research and encouraged me to be open minded in my investigation.
Having started with a strong industry focus, I gained insight into relevant human health initiatives in a way I never anticipated. On more than one occasion I’ve observed an attitude of resignation towards Avian Influenza. I believe if left unchallenged this approach could lead to an animal and/or human health outbreak on a global scale.
With my travels concluded, my attention now turns to writing and presenting my findings. Avian influenza remains a threat to the worldwide poultry industry and undeniably, human health, but I hope my research can play a part in minimising this risk.
Aside from my individual study, Nuffield’s Global Focus Programme provided an opportunity to travel with other scholars to six countries over six weeks. We analysed food systems on every level from large-scale operations in the Ukraine to subsistence farming in Kenya, the latter a humbling experience putting life and our place in the eco-system into perspective.
Above all, my Nuffield scholarship has taught me to remain open minded. I know now how looking above and beyond the obvious has benefitted me personally, the outcome of my studies, and therefore the industry.