Scott Birch and Scott Echols
Scott completed a BA in radio, TV and film at Northwestern University in Illinois, USA, in 1991, and originally worked in television and film production before focusing on digital videography and e-learning applications. In 2008, he started focusing on the veterinary profession, joining Cornell University’s Partners in Animal Health, a programme focused on veterinary education for students and professionals worldwide. In 2011, the programme moved to Texas A&M University, where Scott began to develop novel techniques to view 3D veterinary anatomy. Collaborating with the cardiology faculty, Scott honed the technique of translating computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data sets into interactive experiences viewed on screen, in print, or with augmented virtual reality technology, such as zSpace.
Scott’s favourite aspect of his work is pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge with 3D models and images that until recently could never have been created or even imagined. The most recent scans he’s had the privilege of viewing contain information that no one has ever seen before in the history of human and veterinary medicine – something he finds incredibly motivating.
Scott was born and raised in Iowa, and currently lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he is founding a consulting practice. He is an avid outdoorsman and plays competitive disc golf tournaments around the USA. He is married and has a bunch of feline furballs.
He says: “I got a late start to my current fascination with science and medical imaging. I wanted to make films and television programmes as a younger man, and focused on the arts rather than science. Although that has broadened my perspective on aesthetics, design and composition, I rue the fact I didn’t pay as much attention to science and maths as a student. I may have chosen another career path altogether if my future self could have mentored my past self. Knowledge is power, and I would recommend every young student focus on the fundamentals of science and create a solid foundation of fact-based knowledge. Our world will need these types of thinkers and doers to solve the myriad challenges we will face as a species on this precious planet we call home. There is still a vast amount of things we don’t understand on this and other worlds, and science mixed with creativity will unlock the potential for the next great breakthroughs in humanity. Believe in yourself, work as hard as you can, and even the sky won’t be the limit.”
Scott has always been fascinated by animals and understanding how their various body systems work together in health and disease. This curiosity naturally led him to become a veterinarian. Scott grew up in Dallas, Texas, and completed his undergraduate and veterinary school studies at Texas A&M University. From there he moved to California to complete a residency in bird medicine and surgery, and currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Today, Scott helps run the Grey Parrot Anatomy Project, a collaborative effort to develop the technology needed to define the anatomy of this popular pet and endangered bird. This work is responsible for the creation of detailed anatomic descriptions, new disease diagnostic techniques, new imaging technologies, and even new treatments for a wide array of animals, including humans. Scott’s favourite aspect of the project is working with brilliant people to solve problems related to human and animal health and disease. In essence, he gets to help researchers find answers that will change the world.
In his spare time, Scott enjoys just about any outdoor activity, including hiking, snowboarding and ice climbing. He has also created educational videos that have been viewed and used as teaching tools around the world, and is a talented artist – two of his paintings have been on the cover of the ‘Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery’. Scott also uses his art skills in some of his publications.
He says: “My best advice is what has been given to me and countless others – pursue what you love with relentless passion. If possible, find mentors who are truly excited about their career and are willing to share with interested students.”