My undergraduate studies took me to India where I spent five years learning the art of survival through determination and willpower. Having come from a humble peasant family and the serenity of life back in Bhutan, it was quite a challenge having to pursue a professional degree course in a metropolitan environment in a country so diverse – politically, socially, culturally and linguistically. After completing a degree in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry from India, I worked for the Royal Government of Bhutan in a disease diagnostic laboratory for a couple of years before deciding to take the plunge into post- graduate studies.
I had a wonderful opportunity to undertake a Masters in Tropical Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland which I completed in the year 2000. The one-year stay in the UK was a unique learning experience from what I was exposed to so far. The approaches and concepts of teaching and learning here was at a different ‘wave-length’ to what we had in our region. Since the completion of my post-graduate studies, I have been working in a disease diagnostic laboratory in Southern Bhutan for the last nine years.
Throughout these years I had the wonderful opportunity to undertake a wide array of activities such as: treating domestic and wild animals; planning and implementing disease prevention and control programs; conducting field-based laboratory diagnostic works; and conducting disease surveys and applied researches. Throughout my career, my knowledge in veterinary science has been constantly challenged, and often intrigued, on numerous occasions, by the diversity and the ‘intelligence’ of the livestock pathogens prevalent in the region.
The expectations of our farmers have been a constant source of inspiration for me in my endeavour to look at ways and means to solve their problems. Therefore, my PhD is basically targeted to benefit those farmers whose lives are being constantly affected by diseases such as foot- and-mouth disease. The crux of my PhD research is to understand foot-and-mouth disease in more detail in its natural setting in Bhutan so as to make possible interventions to reduce its incidence, and hopefully eradicate it from the face of the country.
One of the positive spin-offs of my PhD would be the generation of knowledge and skills which could be applied in understanding the epidemiology of other infectious livestock diseases prevalent in Bhutan. Some of the specific objectives of my research would be to understand the epidemiology of the disease; the risk factors associated with the occurrence of the disease, and evaluate the current control program for foot-and-mouth disease in terms of surveillance and vaccination program.
Australia, with its peaceful people and excellent educational facilities, provides an ideal academic environment for me to realise my dream of excelling in applied research. I look forward to interacting closely with my fellow PhD colleagues and others in the course of undertaking my research at Murdoch University.