Dr Elizabeth DeMarrais has been a Fellow at Churchill College since January 2000, and an undergraduate Tutor and DoS in Archaeology for about 15 years. She took on the role of Senior Postgraduate Tutor for three years from October 2019 – August 2022, working throughout the Covid pandemic to support our postgraduate community whilst also making remarkable strides in the College’s bid to achieve postgraduate gender balance. Since stepping down from the role, we are delighted that Liz is continuing to teach in Archaeology, as before, and continuing as a postgraduate Tutor in the College, as well as being the Archaeology DoS. We caught up with her to find out more about her experiences in the post, as well as her plans for the future:

What was your background when coming into the role of Senior Postgraduate Tutor at Churchill?
Richard Partington and I shared a vision of how a modern and inclusive college should run, and when the opportunity to work with Richard in the Senior Postgraduate Tutor role arose, I was very excited to take on the role. Having led the Archaeology Department Athena SWAN Bronze Award team, I hoped to increase diversity and inclusion in the College’s postgraduate community.

What has been the highlight of your time in the role?
Getting to know Churchill’s postgraduate students has most certainly been the highlight. Their enthusiasm, energy, and positive attitude to their studies and to their future careers is inspiring and heartening.

What do you like most about the College?
Where do I start? I feel very much at home in the College. I appreciate the shared commitment to excellence, friendliness and inclusion. The team of Tutors (and other welfare staff) is really caring, with a sense of shared responsibility for our students’ success and wellbeing. The same goes for the staff, many of whom have given many years of dedicated service. I have also really enjoyed playing music and singing in the College choirs over the years.

What are you most proud of that you achieved in your time as Senior Postgraduate Tutor at Churchill?
We got through the pandemic. I don’t know that ‘pride’ enters into it for me, as 2020 and 2021 presented real challenges. We don’t yet have the hindsight to pronounce upon that experience. I saw a great deal of hardship, and I’m relieved that so many of our students achieved their goals in spite of pandemic isolation and restrictions. I’m heartened that, as I step down, the postgraduate gender balance is much closer to 50/50 than it was when I took on the role.

What are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to spending more time making music.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I don’t really have spare time, but if I did, I would do the Wordle and the Spelling Bee every day, read more fiction, and take up the cello.