A number of weeks in the past my Block III tutor group was abuzz with the information that our tutor, Dr. Robin Radcliffe, and his colleagues had been honored with the 2021 Ig Nobel Prize in recognition of their work evaluating the efficacy of transporting rhinoceroses by hanging them the wrong way up from helicopters. The prize, awarded yearly since 1991, goals to “honor achievements that first make individuals snigger, after which make them assume.” To these of us within the tutor group inquisitive about conservation and wildlife drugs, it was a welcome reminder that we’re surrounded by school at Cornell who’ve achieved what can typically really feel just like the unimaginable: cast a profession on the planet of zoo and wildlife drugs. Charged with renewed inspiration, I reached out to Dr. Radcliffe within the hopes of studying extra about his profession trajectory and his present work.
Dr. Radcliffe obtained his veterinary diploma from the College of Minnesota alongside his twin brother & fellow Cornell school member, Dr. Rolfe Radcliffe. Says Dr. Radcliffe, “We went from kindergarten via vet college collectively.” Whereas a vet pupil Dr. Radcliffe pursued wildlife-centric externships and experiences, although he’s fast to notice, “I used to be somewhat bit disheartened by vet college as a result of there weren’t as many alternatives as there at the moment are in wildlife.” After acquiring his DVM, Dr. Radcliffe labored in a blended animal observe after which spent a 12 months working solely with camelids earlier than returning to Fossil Rim Wildlife Middle, the place he had been an extern, to work as an affiliate veterinarian. He later took over as Director of Animal Well being. Whereas at Fossil Rim, Dr. Radcliffe accomplished the necessities for board certification within the American School of Zoological Medication via the experiential observe. Of his considerably unconventional path to board certification he says, “I most popular the experiential pathway as a result of I wasn’t inquisitive about a zoological place. I knew I needed to work with discipline conservation and free-ranging wildlife populations, and even now there’s just one accepted wildlife well being residency. There’s in all probability going to be extra coming, however after I went to highschool there have been no accepted wildlife residencies so it was more durable then.” He spent a few decade at Fossil Rim Wildlife Middle working largely with rhinoceroses earlier than transferring to the Worldwide Rhino Basis and ultimately, to Cornell. At Cornell, Dr. Radcliffe teaches, conducts ongoing analysis into all kinds of endangered species, and has developed coaching applications, most importantly, the Engaged Cornell Program.
The variety of his work is a part of what appeals to him, in accordance with Dr. Radcliffe, although in recent times he has been taking up extra tasks near dwelling. “I’ve spent a superb a part of my profession touring all around the world which was nice—I beloved it—however I’m additionally very inquisitive about ensuring that we preserve and shield the wildlife proper right here at dwelling. I believe that’s essential. When you’re going to do worldwide work, I believe it’s important that you just handle or not less than have some expertise with conservation in your personal a part of the world as a result of a lot of it’s communities and other people.” Whereas he has tremendously loved the alternatives that his job has afforded, he notes, “Most individuals assume that it’s so glamorous to be a wildlife veterinarian, and it may be, however there’s a lot work that goes right into a profitable partnership and a discipline challenge that folks don’t essentially acknowledge up entrance. I do spend a number of time on that, on communication with companions, grant writing, and serving to to maintain the tasks that I’m invested in.” One other basic a part of profitable tasks overseas, in accordance with Dr. Radcliffe, is a dedication to sustaining relationships with analysis companions. “I believe for me, a very powerful factor is curiosity, and never simply scientific curiosity, however curiosity concerning the place you’re going and the setting, the individuals, the language, the tradition. It is best to go into a spot ready to study the language and recognize the tradition. For me, a long run partnership is one through which I come away with it feeling like I’ve friendships and long run relationships there. I can talk with my colleagues any time, day or evening. They’ll assist me in a pinch and I’ll do something for them. It’s additionally little issues, like after we publish something, we all the time embrace the native authors and, as a rule, the native authors are lead authors on the publication.”
For college students seeking to enter the more and more aggressive discipline, Dr. Radcliffe’s first suggestion is to capitalize on the alternatives we’ve got right here at Cornell Vet. “I believe there’s a number of experience right here at Cornell and there’s a number of alternatives.” These embrace Engaged Cornell, Increasing Horizons, and a myriad of programs aimed toward college students inquisitive about pursuing careers in zoo, wildlife, and exotics drugs. Dr. Radcliffe teaches a 3-part course referred to as Conservation with Communities for One Well being, which displays the multi-disciplinary mindset essential to efficient conservation work. Each undergraduate and veterinary college students are in a position to take this course, and a subset of them journey in groups to discipline websites within the Congo, Uganda, and Indonesia to take part in tasks with establishments that Dr. Radcliffe has constructed relationships with through the years, together with the Jane Goodall Institute and WWF-Indonesia. Coursework apart, Dr. Radcliffe encourages college students to reap the benefits of networking alternatives and to pursue externships that excite them.
Between coaching the subsequent technology of wildlife veterinarians and dealing to avoid wasting endangered species, Dr. Radcliffe has a full plate to say the least. Amid the challenges his work presents he stays optimistic, citing a current expertise in Alaska working with gyrfalcon. “Their angle in Alaska is let’s save the gyrfalcon and the Arctic ecosystem at the start’s gone. My message for future wildlife college students is that this: let’s be proactive and use our sources one of the best we will as a result of it’s very costly to recuperate endangered species, it’s very costly to take action in a zoo in a captive setting. The Alaskan angle, which I really like, is let’s deal with our species earlier than they grow to be endangered!” Within the case of already endangered species like Javan and Sumatran rhinos, there are large obstacles to beat. Nonetheless, Dr. Radcliffe feels his most impactful work could also be achieved in mentoring colleagues and coaching college students. “That’s the form of affect that I really feel is a very powerful that I could make in the long run.”
Colleen Sorge, Class of 2024, is initially from Lengthy Island, NY. She graduated with a B.S. in Animal Science and a minor in English from Cornell College. She usually finds herself lacking her humanities programs in vet college and is thrilled she will mix her passions for writing and for veterinary drugs because the WildLIFE Weblog Editor.