New take on an old theme... zooark is getting a facelift from Jonas Persson (the owner/manager/CEO of Personable Solutions)... and I am going to use it to blog on vet school- and my new venture into the Urban Planning PhD program. I wish I had gotten this started the first few years of vet school- but then you probably would have heard a lot of whining about vet school. Luckily- I have entirely changed my mind about vet school- now that I know what kind of beast it is... more on that later. For now, let me update on this new adventure that I am embarking upon.
As a veterinary student with a background in master-planning for zoological parks and a Masters Degree in Virology, I am beginning a PhD in urban planning in order to apply my knowledge of animal behavior, disease transmission, and conservation medicine to the placement, organization, design, and management of animal facilities. In addition to zoos, there are many other examples of areas where urban planning has unique overlap with veterinary expertise, and where there is a deep need for knowledge in both fields. Some examples of these subjects include animal welfare, disease prevention, and sustainable use of resources.
Welfare: As seen with recently passed welfare legislation, best practice analysis is greatly needed for food animal systems, allowing them to adopt animal welfare programs without decreasing profit margin, animal health, or food production. A background in animal health and behavior makes veterinarians perfectly suited to judge animal welfare issues, but layout and integrated planning are skills unique to a degree in design.
Health: Preventing animal disease outbreaks is a key issue in planning animal facilities. Zoonotic disease, resulting from pathogens spread from animals to humans, (ex: avian influenza, rabies, etc.) comprises 75% of the emerging diseases (Taylor and Woolhouse, 2001). Methods of pathogen spread include food-borne illnesses from animal products, transport of animals, and workers in close contact with animals. Food animal systems need careful planning and smart regulations such that intensive agriculture is close enough to cities in order to decrease transport costs and fuel while far enough from dense human populations to minimize the risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks.
Sustainability: For the health of the planet, it is necessary to plan animal production facilities near farmlands to both supply crop byproduct to the farms, and make use of valuable organic fertilizer while minimizing transport. Farms are sources of fertilizer, pesticide, manure, and waste run-off; all of which contaminate valuable water resources. Smart technologies to harvest waste and convert it into valuable fuel, fertilizer or soil exist, but must be adapted to each industry depending on its location, soil chemistry, resources, and production capabilities. Moreover, layout and geographical location of crops, animal farms, and markets can greatly reduce transportation and fuel usage between areas as well protect watershed areas from run-off.
I am receiving support for my degree from the Vernon and Shirley Hill Inspiration Award, the largest monetary award in the veterinary field. (insert link).