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About the speakers

Alastair Macrae BVM&S, PhD, CertSHP, DCHP, DipECBHM, DipECSRHM (Non-Practicing), SFHEA, FRCVS

Alastair Macrae is Professor of Farm Animal Health and Production, and Head of the Dairy Herd Health and Productivity Service (DHHPS) at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh.  The DHHPS provides independant consultancy advice to dairy, beef and sheep farms on all aspects of health and productivity, with the aim of preventing disease and maximising farm profitability. He is involved in teaching undergraduate veterinary students in all years of the course at Edinburgh.

Barbara Watson BVMS MSc MRCVS

Barbara qualified from Glasgow University in 1999 and worked in mixed practice in Cumbria before completing a masters in wild animal health at the RVC. Following worked in small/exotic and wildlife practice and developed an interest in avian and wildlife work. Currently work at SRUC St Boswells Disease Surveillance centre.

Karen Stewart BSc (Hons)

Karen is a Ruminant Nutritionist with SAC Consulting and provides nutritional advice and ration formulation to beef & sheep farmers, SAC Consultants and other industry bodies. Karen has a keen interest in suckler cow nutrition and was recently involved in a Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) funded project with a group of suckler producers looking at the mineral products they were using.

Jill Thomson BVSc, PhD, MRCVS

Jill graduated from University of Pretoria, South Africa and after time in mixed practice completed a PhD at University of Edinburgh. She joined the SRUC Veterinary Services in 1982 to major on investigation of farm animal diseases, majoring on pig medicine and large animal pathology. A holder of the Certificate in Pig Medicine, a Diplomate of the European College of Porcine Health Management she has worked as a pig specialist for more than 25 years with a primary interest in veterinary disease surveillance and strategies to improve pig health. Jill has taught Pig Medicine to veterinary students as part of her role, and currently serves on a number of Pig Industry advisory groups. She has particular research interest in enteric diseases of pigs and the development of improved diagnostic tests and services to benefit all pig keepers.

Prof. Liam A. Sinclair B.Sc (Hons), PhD, FHEA, R. Anim. Sci., ARAgS

Liam undertook a degree in Agriculture with Animal Science at Aberdeen University, before moving to Nottingham University where he completed a PhD on rumen biochemistry. He then moved to Harper Adams University as a lecturer, progressing to Professor of Animal Science in 2010. His research interests focus on dairy cows and include improving mineral nutrition of dairy cattle, increasing forage utilization, improving the health attributes of milk, and reducing the environmental impact of dairy cows. He was awarded the Sir John Hammond Prize in 2011 for his applied research in ruminant nutrition and ability to transfer research findings to industry. In 2016 Liam was elected as the President of the British Society of Animal Science, and in 2017 was awarded an Associateship of the Royal Agricultural Societies.

Heather Stevenson BVMS DSHP MRCVS

Heather graduated from Glasgow in 1993 and worked for 12 years in mixed practice in Ayrshire, Cumbria and New Zealand before joining SRUC VS as a Veterinary Investigation Officer in Dumfries in 2005. In addition to the routine postmortem and diagnostic work, Heather is involved with the Sheep and Cattle Health Schemes, and with planning and delivery of CPD courses for vets and talks for farmers. She is the SRUC VS representative on the SCOPS Steering Group and secretary of the Sheep Veterinary Society.

Molly McKay BVetMed BSc (Hons) MRCVS

Molly graduated from the RVC in 2000 after having completed a degree previous in Business Economics from the University of Surrey. After working in a farm an equine practice in North Norfolk Molly went on to open Norfolk Farm Vets in 2006 a dedicated farm animal practice. In 2014 the practice was sold to Westpoint Farm Vets Ltd where Molly continued to work as Practice Principal and consultant nationally in the Beef sector. In 2019 Molly started a small consultancy business with 6 like minded colleagues concentrating on Herd Health Planning across the Lincolnshire, Norfolk & Suffolk. Outside work Molly can be found running with her trusty hound or enjoying delicious food and a good glass of wine.


Joe graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2008 before entering mixed practice in north Wales.  Whilst in practice he carried out research into drunken lamb syndrome and after 3 years he returned to Liverpool to do a PhD in the epidemiology of contagious ovine digital dermatitis (CODD) whilst concurrently doing an MSc in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and continuing to locum in practice.  After completing his PhD and MSc in 2015 he spent a further period in full time academia at Liverpool before returning to practice.  He now carries out day to day clinical duties, holds an Honorary Fellowship at the University of Liverpool and continues to carry out research on a variety of themes as well as some consultancy.  

Valentina Busin DVM, DipECSRHM, PhD, MRCVS

Valentina graduated from the University of Turin, Italy, in 2007 and worked in mixed and farm animal practices for 3 years. She has completed a 3-year farm animal residency, obtaining the Diploma for the European College of Small Ruminant Health Management in 2014. She has recently completed a PhD program at the Moredun Research Institute and Heriot-Watt University on sheep scab diagnostics. Since September 2016 she has been a University Clinician in Disease Investigation at the University of Glasgow, School of Veterinary Medicine. One of Valentina main interest is in sheep scab control and management, with a specific view on application of on-farm diagnostics.


Rhona graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2013 and worked in mixed animal practice at Northvet Veterinary Group in Orkney. The work has been 60% farm, 40% small, with beef being the majority of the farm work. She has completed the cattle certificate through Liverpool University, as she was keen to pursue her interest in farm work. Rhona also undertook a master’s degree through the University of Glasgow, looking at perinatal losses in beef herds in Orkney. Since finishing her master’s, she is back working for Northvet and aim to continue the work started on perinatal losses in Orkney beef herds. 

Sara Pedersen BSc(Hons) BVetMed CertCHP DBR MRCVS

Sara graduated from the RVC in 2005 and has worked exclusively with farm animals ever since. She holds the RCVS Certificate in Cattle Health and Production, Diploma in Bovine Reproduction and is an RCVS-Recognised Specialist in Cattle Health and Production. In 2014 she left practice to focus solely on lameness, providing educational programmes and consultancy services to agri-businesses including farmers, national organisations, milk processors and commercial companies. At the start of 2017 she also embarked on a part-time PhD on cattle foot trimming with the University of Nottingham.

Simon Turner BSc MSc PhD

Simon is a senior researcher in SRUC with a research interest in understanding the causes and consequences of individual differences in animal breeding social behaviour and the response to human handling. Simon works closely with the animal breeding sector to understand the genetic basis to individual differences in behavioural responses and sees a role for both management and genetic approaches as a way to improve behaviour.  He works alongside SAC consultants to provide advice to beef producers on ways to modify or redesign handling systems that make better use of behavioural principles to improve safe cattle flow. 

Eileen Wall BAgrSc, MAgrSc (Res), PhD, MYAS, RAnimSci

Eileen’s professional activity has focussed on livestock genetics and the development of breeding tools for use by the agricultural community. Eileen has made fundamental contributions in the delivery of broader breeding goals in UK dairy cattle, with international impacts through the dissemination of genetic improvement. Her current research interests and projects include climate change and livestock systems, genetics of fitness traits, development of sustainable and environmental breeding goals and improvements to national livestock genetic evaluations. Eileen also play a key role in the development of interdisciplinary programmes of work, within and out with SRUC.


Tim is centre manager of the SRUC Aberdeen Disease Surveillance Centre. Tim qualified from Glasgow in 2005 and after completing a Masters by research spent two years in farm animal practice in Lanarkshire. He completed a residency training programme of the ECBHM at UCD Dublin 2008-2011, specialising in preventative medicine in seasonal dairy systems. He then returned to Glasgow as a clinical lecturer, developing an interest in more intensive dairy systems. Moving to Aberdeenshire in 2015, his current role is focussed on early warning surveillance and he maintains an active interest in applied research in cattle production systems.