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Fulbright Scholar studies animal disease detection
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- On the surface, Mississippi and Northern Ireland are worlds apart, but Dr. Philip Robinson found that if he digs a little deeper, there are many similarities.
Robinson came to Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine as a Fulbright Scholar from Jan. 5 through April 9. He is a government veterinarian specializing in epidemiology in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
“We have many of the same animal diseases, similar economic difficulties in agriculture and a lot of producers who are part-time farmers, just like here,” he said.
Robinson’s Fulbright project is to study the relationship between private practice veterinarians and diagnostic laboratories. He wants to see the decision-making process veterinarians use to determine if they will submit samples to laboratories and to see if this has an impact on animal disease surveillance.
“I have found veterinarians to be very similar here compared to Northern Ireland,” he said. “The veterinary world is a small world. We can identify with each other very easily. There is a great bond between veterinarians, no matter where they come from.”
Robinson will continue gathering information in both countries before compiling it for publication.
Fulbright Scholars often serve informal roles as ambassadors for their home countries. While in the United States, Robinson led seminars at MSU, Kansas State University, the University of Missouri, Tuskegee University and Auburn University. He was the keynote speaker at the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association meeting this spring.
“I have had the opportunity to visit a lot of farms in Mississippi including dairy, beef, swine, poultry and catfish,” he said. “That was the first time I’ve been able to visit a fish farm of any kind, and it was fascinating.”
Robinson had a personal interest in the southern United States before coming to Mississippi, and he used the time to learn about the area and its history. He and his wife and three children -- ages 5, 4 and 2 -- traveled extensively around the state during their stay. Some of their stops included Vicksburg and the Gulf Coast.
Dr. Bill Epperson, head of pathobiology and population medicine with MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said Robinson’s visit helped faculty see the potential benefits of international work and travel.
“He has generated interest in going to other countries to learn and to teach,” Epperson said. “I’m hopeful we will be able to work together on future projects after he returns to Northern Ireland.”
Epperson said faculty members appreciated the opportunity to learn about food quality and animal health issues from Robinson.
“He definitely has done more than just his Fulbright project. He also has seen more of Mississippi in three months than most Mississippians see in three years,” Epperson said. “I think he’s given us all a greater appreciation for our state, our careers and our world.”
Contact: Dr. Bill Epperson, (662) 325-3432