When I was a biologist, I thought everything was easy to do in the lab. As I moved to the social science team, I had an opportunity to meet new people – and the new environment shaped me a lot.

Personally, I have in the past had the poor habit of listening to others’ speeches, and usually I would counter or end the conversation before listening to their full ideas. As a social science researcher, I have developed the habit of listening to others’ opinions and viewpoints. I have developed a positive attitude toward my research career while interviewing poultry traders to learn about their past, present and future goals in the poultry industry. I couldn’t even learn these things in a paid personality development course! I have really benefitted from the opportunities the Hub has created for me.

Previously as a biological researcher, I would find papers related to my research topic and discuss with my lead researchers, Dr Azhahianambi and Dr Aravindh Babu.  Then I would do the experiment in the lab and read my results.

But now, as a social science (ethnographic) researcher, I explain what I observe in, for example, poultry traders’ offices and chicken retail shops, and discuss with my team, led by Ivo [Syndicus] and Eve [Houghton]. I have learned what is an in-depth research and observation – and a particular focus on a particular thing has been hatched beautifully through this social science research.

For example, I would like to note that while discussing chicken retail shop observations with Ivo and Eve, they would allow me to finish my conversations. Even though I had finished my discussion, they would just smile and sit quietly for a moment. Then I would open my mouth and share a few more points.

I learnt from this. I have tested this technique with traders while interviewing them. Surprisingly, when I do this poultry traders will open their mouth and share some more about the poultry trading without my asking any further questions. (Now, I am following this technique with some of my relatives too …)

The warm-up work that Ivo gave me when I entered ethnographic studies, I wondered if it was necessary? What kind of job is this? It seemed like there were so many questions flying around in my head. But as a result of regular meetings with my team, I have been taught how to take notes in a field and how to establish rapport with retailers. If that had been in a classroom session, I would not have learned anything. My boat has been beautifully directed by Eve and Ivo.

Here I would also like to mention Dr Kumaravel. He always has a notebook in his pocket. If he is talking with me, he will take a note and discuss, and then he will tick all the points he wrote in his note. This is what I now follow before interviewing a poultry trader (though I am using my mobile phone not a pocket notebook). When I do any small task, this practice makes me feel satisfied.

Everyone in my recent workshop opened their mouth and freely discussed all the research areas (like poultry trading, poultry manure, hygiene, One Health, zoonoses), and shared views and plans for future work. That really gave me energy and encouraged me personally to do more research. I really thank Ivo (rather than an anthropologist/social scientist, he is a living practical book) and Eve for the live ethnographic demonstration.

Occasionally I have felt that I had a gap developing between biology and myself, and I have talked to my lead researchers about my interest in biology. They have provided me with the opportunity to discuss poultry-related laboratory work during their free time and work with them on publications to strengthen my biological knowledge.

But I am now an interdisciplinary researcher, working on an interdisciplinary project. Over the upcoming years, I intend to focus my research on One Health. There would be no way to accomplish this without the UKRI GCRF One Health Poultry Hub.

Once again, many thanks!


Ganesh Janarthanan

A proud interdisciplinary researcher