What is the Quadram Student Forum?

3rd November 2023

We speak to students to learn more about the Quadram Student Forum and meet the current committee members.

The Quadram Student Forum, also known as the QSF, is a committee that represents the postgraduate students at the Quadram Institute.

We organise a variety of socials and scientific discussion-focused events. We collaborate with the other student bodies on the Norwich Research Park, and with the Quadram Science Voice (QSV) to enhance the research community on the Norwich Research Park, giving students opportunities to build their networks and make friends.

The Quadram Student Forum committee exists to help build a student community through social events, while encouraging positive research culture. We encourage collaboration and scientific discussion, as well as provide all our PGR students with opportunities for socialisation outside of their research.

We represent Quadram students on the Graduate School Executive (GSE) ensuring students have a say on the decisions of the graduate school that affect them, and ensuring their ideas are heard. We work with our Postgraduate Director Dr Paul Kroon to advocate for student welfare and help provide the best postgraduate experience possible for our students.

The Quadram Student Forum committee members in the Quadram atrium

From left to right: Lizzi Coy, Caroline Jarvis, Eleanor Hayles, Helena Pardo-Casale, Sam Mellor and Freya Hartshorn

Introducing the 2023 Quadram Student Forum committee

The committee changes every year, with the new committee being assigned roles in February and fully taking the reins in March after a short transition period.

As a committee, we meet at least once a fortnight, plus regular interactions through our group chat to keep up to date. Our socials and events usually happen once a month.

Our current committee are:

Sam Mellor – Chair

“The role of chair has allowed me to facilitate the talent of the rest of the committee to organise great socials and provide the best support we can. I represent the QSF committee at internal and external events, and to the GSE. Through my role as GSE representative I liaise frequently with Paul Kroon, ensuring the voices of the student community are always heard. As president of the QSF, I lead the Quadram Student Science Showcase planning committee. This is the annual student conference at QIB, celebrating their talent and science through a series of presentations and poster sessions.”

Eleanor Hayles – Admin and Finance

“As Admin & Finance Officer I’m responsible for managing QSF’s budget and undertaking administrative tasks such as taking minutes for our meetings. My role also includes providing support the wider committee, including aiding the organisation of the annual Student Science Showcase. I volunteered with QSF to contribute to the great student community we have at QIB, and to make sure students are well-represented within the Institute.”

Lizzi Coy – Events

“In my role as QSF events officer it is my job to organise socials for the students at the Quadram institute. These are great opportunities for the students across the institute to meet and have fun away from the stress of their PhD or other studies. The socials range from pottery painting, mini golf, and games nights.

It is also my responsibility to organise the annual student retreat! The retreat is an overnight stay away from Norwich. In the past we have gone to adventure parks where the students can try new activities such as stand-up paddle boarding and archery. I volunteered for the role so I could integrate more into the student community at Quadram and run events that the students want, as well as improve the personal development skills that come with the role.”

Freya Hartshorn – Engagement

“As Engagement Officer, it is my responsibility to liaise with the QIB Communications team and to run the QSF Twitter page. I volunteered for the role to help students broadcast the contributions they make to the scientific community at QIB and also to help advertise the institute as a great place to be a student. I do this mainly by sharing students’ publications, posters, and presentations on Twitter and by sharing all of the great events that students get involved with, many of which are organised by QSF!”

Caroline Jarvis – Welfare

“My main responsibility is to be an advocate for mental health awareness and disseminate information on the support services available to postgraduate students at the Quadram Institute. As the Welfare Officer I also represent the student body on the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. One of my objectives this year was to start a monthly Welfare Survey for all students at QIB, so we can target wellbeing events and training during periods of peak stress. This has involved a lot of liaising with the various ethics committees at UEA and hopefully these surveys will be up and running soon!”

Helena Pardo-Casales – Training

“I ensure that all students are informed about training opportunities and courses that are accessible to them. This might be sent by email or through the “Weekly mailout” with training opportunities and newsletters of the most relevant societies and websites. As Training Officer, it is also my job to organize student seminars so students can rehearse their public speaking skills with their peers as well as organize lunches for the students with external seminar speakers as network opportunities.”

Activities of the Quadram Student Forum

Recently, the QSF has helped organise a Norwich Biosciences Institutes vs UEA sports day which was great fun.

We organised a potluck lunch with the QSV to facilitate conversations between students and other researchers at the institute. We host a monthly debate club, where we informally discuss a range of both scientific and philosophical issues over lunch.

In May, after annual reviews were finished, we took the students pottery painting, which was a great event for de-stressing and relaxation.

Our most recent socials have been catered to welcome our new intake of students. The goal of these events was to introduce the new students to each other and to other cohorts.

With the NBI student societies at JIC, EI, and TSL, we organised a scavenger hunt around the city followed by pizza. This is a great way for those new to Norwich to learn their way around with others in a relaxed environment.

For QIB students, we organised an evening at the local table-top games café, Slice + Dice, where students were able to meet some of the new cohort over some board games and an incredible vegan buffet!

The Quadram Student Forum’s plans for the future

We plan to organise more socials across the Norwich Biosciences Institutes. Upcoming socials include visiting a cat café and our annual QSF Christmas party.

As well as socials, we proactively support the students at QIB through advertising training events and signposting to various resources. We are hoping to organise coffee mornings when probation reviews are approaching so older students can give advice to the new students. We hope this will make the process of probation less stressful, and help build strong connections between new students and the older cohorts.

We are constantly looking for new ideas for fun things to do as a group in and around Norwich. Follow the QSF on Twitter to stay up to date with our activity and see updates from QIB students.