Department: Pathobiology and Population Sciences

Campus: Hawkshead

Research Centres: Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health

Sonny is a PhD student investigating the potential for disease transmission between wild boar and livestock in Great Britain. The project will run until summer 2021.

Sonny graduated from the University of Nottingham as a veterinary surgeon in 2015, after intercalating his degree with an MSc in veterinary science at the University of Liverpool. He worked at a mixed farm animal and equine practice in Hertfordshire for two years before joining the Royal Veterinary College as a PhD student.

He is part of the London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Program (LIDO), and his PhD is a collaboration between the RVC, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Pirbright Institute. 

2017-Date PhD Student, Royal Veterinary College
2015-2017 Veterinary surgeon working in farm animal/equine practice

2015 Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, University of Nottingham
2013 Master of Science in Veterinary Sciences (Conservation Pathway), University of Liverpool
2012 Bachelor of Veterinary Medical Science, University of Nottingham

My PhD is titled "Assessing risk, consequences and mitigation strategies for pathogen transmission between wild boar and livestock in Great Britain". I am focusing on one of the largest free-living wild boar populations in Great Britain: The Forest of Dean in southwest England.

I am looking to address the following questions:

  • What is the frequency and nature of wild boar contact with farmland, livestock and people/public spaces?
  • What is the current disease status of wild boar in the Forest of Dean, and how is it changing over time?
  • What is the potential role of wild boar in future disease outbreaks?
  • How would different mitigation strategies affect disease transmission?

I will use the data collected as part of this project alongside existing knowledge, to inform the development of mathematical models to help us better understand and manage potential disease transmission between wild boar and livestock. The effects of a range of potential mitigation strategies will be incorporated into the model to establish their impact on the likelihood of disease transmission.

My PhD is part of an interdisciplinary collaboration under the principal supervision of Dr Julian Drewe at the RVC. It is co-supervised by Dr Adam Kucharski at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Dr Linda Dixon and Dr Simon Gubbins of the Pirbright Institute. The PhD is funded by The Bloomsbury Colleges.

  • Interactions between species: Implications for disease transmission

    A study of the contact patterns between a wide range of species to better understand the risks of disease transmission between livestock, wildlife and people. Many diseases spread between species. Humans are no exception: we share most of our infectious diseases with other hosts. This means we may become infected from other species (for example, catching rabies through being bitten by an infected dog) or we may be the source of infection to other species (for example, spreading antibiotic-resistant bacteria to livestock or pets).

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