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Doctoral College

Icebreakers with Zi Parker (Head of Doctoral College)

Zi isn’t exactly someone you want to compare your creative skills against. She has a degree in History, masters in 18th Century Studies, extensive research on Irish Enlightenment, and has been with the Doctoral College for more than eight years now. She is very funny, also very good at origami. We met with her and talked about her goals, organisational skills and pursuing wildly different hobbies. 

Zi Parker image

You have been with the Doctoral College for a long time now. How have you witnessed its evolving nature?

I have been doing this job for 8.5 years now, I’ve seen the role grow from me sitting in a converted cupboard on my own with responsibility for delivering a couple of events, to the development of the Doctoral College as it now stands as a much larger team with responsibly all things PGR across the university.  We now have a proper office as well, not just a converted cupboard! 

What do you think should be the utmost priority to make lives of PGRs easier?

I believe our PGRs are at the coal face of our research activity and central to the research we (QMUL) deliver, PGRs need to know they are not on their own, and that people like the Doctoral College and other services are here to support their journeys.  The doctoral programme can be really lonely, so knowing you’re not alone is really central to getting through.     

What is one piece of advice you’d give to PGRs?

Try and experience everything academia has to offer – PGR projects sometimes feel like they are really short, and other times feel like they will go on forever, but best way to make the most of this is to get involved.  Go to training courses, attend conferences, have a go at teaching, make friends with people not in your school/institute.  Really engage with the university to make the most of your time here – there is so much on offer!   

What are your hobbies?

I like cooking and gardening (I’m basically 300 years old).  But this year is the first year I’ll be able to pick asparagus in my garden, which is VERY exciting.  I also love live and loud music and can regularly be found in music venues and record shops across London.

Are you very organized? What would your suggestions be to declutter life and reduce stress

No, I am an absolute goblin of chaos.  I organise myself with a bullet journal and having everything in a place, which just about (along with my wonderful colleagues) keeps me on the straight and narrow.  My chaos allows me to be creative in my role, I think, but does occasionally mean I forget things!

Favourite movie? Favourite sport?

My favourite movie of all time is Kind Hearts and Coronets, it’s a 1940s Ealing comedy about a man who bumps off half his family to become a Baronet.  Alec Guinness is in it and is amazing.  My favourite sport is cricket, we even had a cricket match at our wedding. 



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