MCR Committee 2019-2020

Our MCR has a highly active committee that is responsible for most aspects of student life. The committee is elected from Balliol MCR members in accordance with the MCR Constitution, and holds regular, minuted meetings that all MCR members are invited to attend. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions about graduate student life at Balliol.

Information on past committees is available from 2009.

All email addresses are


Thomas hancock, President

E-mail: mcr.president
Field of study: DPhil in Particle Physics
Home country: UK

Hello all! I'm Thomas, your MCR President. My role is primarily overseeing the running of the MCR, as well as representing you all to College. If you have a question, suggestion, or really anything at all, please don't hesitate to get in touch!

In addition to being your president, I'm a DPhil student in Particle Physics, working on the LHCb experiment at CERN. Outside of presidency and research, I enjoy writing, skiing, and playing games. I'm currently working on my 5th novel, run a weekly Dungeons & Dragons session for some of my fellow MCR members, and am generally always up for a games night!


Mirko Vintar, Vice President

E-mail: mcr.vicepresident
Field of study: MPhil in Economics
Home country: Germany, Slovenia

Hello everyone! I will have the pleasure of being your MCR Vice-President for the next year. As such, I will be overseeing multiple domestic functions, most importantly your accommodation. New graduate accommodation blocks are due to be constructed as part of the Master’s Field project next year and it will be my duty to oversee construction and negotiate appropriate pricing.

Having been born in Kenia, raised in Slovenia and a student for undergrad in Germany, I appreciate international communities that are united in diversity. If you are a fresher, let me say that you are joining a very special community here at the Manor. I hope you will make full use of it and am looking forward to chatting with you at fresher’s week or some other MCR event!


Søren Gammelgaard, Secretary

E-mail: mcr.secretary
Field of study: DPhil in Mathematics
Home country: Norway/Denmark

Hi everyone, I'm Søren (though Soren is fine if that's easier).
As Secretary, I am responsible for scheduling and convening MCR and Committee meetings, and for writing agendas, protocols, and for taking minutes. I am also responsible for keeping the MCR informed of what's going on, in the MCR, in College, or University-wide. This is done through the Monday Notices, which I send out every Monday (in term) and some Mondays during vacations. Send me an email if there's anything you'd like included!

Other than being your Secretary, I'm studying for a DPhil in algebraic geometry. Mostly this involves staring at diagrams of dots and arrows.


Gaurav Agarwal, Treasurer

E-mail: mcr.treasurer
Field of study: Medical Student (5th Year)
Home country: UK

Hello! I’m Gaurav (Gav), your MCR Treasurer. I hold the MCR bank account (mwuhaha), work closely with the committee to set the budget and oversee the MCR finances throughout the year. I also manage the Charity Levy and seek your views on which charities we wish to support this year.

Last year, I served as Co-President of the Holywell Manor Garden Party – a black-tie ball in our MCR. I had the best time organising this and am happy to chat to anyone interested in putting this together in 2020.

I’ve just started my fifth year of Medicine at Oxford. Outside the hospital, I enjoy running, ballroom dancing and messing up basic cooking recipes.


Eleanor Kerfoot, Social Secretary

E-mail: eleanor.kerfoot
Field of study: DPhil in History (British and European History, 1700-1850)
Home country: UK

Hi all, I'm Eleanor and I'm one of the social secretaries for 2019-20.

Before doing my Master's and DPhil in Enlightenment history at Balliol, I studied the long eighteenth century at Warwick (always keen to chat with other alumni). I'm originally from a really small town called Chorley in north west England. I return there occasionally to visit Tyrone, my phat cat (pictured). I miss him deeply. My DPhil research focuses on death practices and ideas of mortality during and after the British Enlightenment.

Please get in touch if you have any ideas, concerns or feedback regarding social events in the MCR!


Juba Nait, Social Secretary

E-mail: juba.naitsaada
Field of study: DPhil in Statistics
Home country: Algeria and France

Hi! My name is Juba, I'm a second year DPhil student and I'll be one of your Social Secs this year. My job consists in making sure you enjoy your time at Balliol (which you will, trust me!). Eugenia, Eleanor and I will do our best so that you all have fun and feel good in your new home. I have some new ideas for this incoming year and I am always open to new ideas. Feel free to talk to me about any issue you might have at Balliol, or if you want to socialise or even if you just need to practice your French!

I am crazy about TV series, mangas, video games, sport, maths and I love going out with friends. Before coming to Oxford, I studied Maths and Computer Science in Paris, where I am originally from, and I am now doing a DPhil in Statistics. My research involves Statistical Genetics and Artificial Intelligence.


Eugenia Yeo, Social Secretary

E-mail: eugenia.yeo
Field of study: MPhil in International Relations
Home country: Singapore and US

Hi everyone! My name is Eugenia, and I’m a second year in the MPhil IR programme. I’ll be one of your social secretaries for the 2019-2020 year. My job for next year mainly consists of forcing you to have fun! (Just kidding, but also maybe not really..?) Okay, but in all seriousness, Eleanor, Juba, and I have loads of ideas and are all really excited for this upcoming year. Hope to see you at some of our events! Please let us know if you have any ideas you’d like us to incorporate.

More about me…
I love getting to know people, and I really hate writing bios. So instead of finding out more about me here, come find me and we’ll talk in person! Looking forward to it!


Ingvild Hvinden, Bar manager

E-mail: ingvild.hvinden
Field of study: DPhil in Chemical Biology
Nationality: Norway and USA

Hi everyone, I’m a second year DPhil in Chemical Biology and spend my days studying the metabolism of cancer. This year I’ll also be taking care of the Megaron, the MCR bar, together with Isaac and Shamir. My main responsibilities are to make sure the bar is stocked and balancing the books. If you have any requests for snacks or drinks, send me an e-mail and I’ll try my best to make it happen. Also, I’m a big fan of whisk(e)y and happy to talk shop!

Isaac Dunn, bar manager

E-mail: isaac.dunn
Field of study: DPhil in Computer Science
Home country: UK

Hello! I'm the person responsible for making sure that our wonderful bar is well stocked with drinks and snacks of all description. If you're interested in joining the fairly large group of people who take it in turns to help out with the restocks, please do get in touch! It's sociable, very easy, takes only about an hour per term of your time, and is a great way to give a little back.


Shamir Montazid, bar manager

E-mail: shamir.montazid
Field of study: DPhil in Medical Sciences
Home country: Bangladesh

When Oxford life takes a toll on you, make sure to enter a Balliol BoP. You will forget everything else. I’ll serve you a nice selection of cocktails at the most reasonable price ever. That’s pretty much what I do.

Bar. BoP. Balliol.


Leah Veronese, welfare officer

E-mail: leah.veronese-clucas
Field of study: DPhil in Early Modern Literature
Home country: UK

Hi all! My name is Leah Veronese and I'm one of your welfare officers. Welfare officers are responsible for keeping the MCR sufficiently stuffed with snacks, as well as being a port of call for mental health issues and general concerns however seemingly big or small. Welfare Tea takes place every Wednesday at 7.30, and you are always welcome to mine for tea and a chat.

I'm in the second year of my DPhil in early modern literature, researching petition and metaphors of intercession after the Reformation in literature. I play with manuscripts. In my spare time I enjoy squeaking at high pitch in choirs, kickboxing, writing,
cooking and have developed a recent love of house plants.


Ayesha Purcell, welfare officer

E-mail: ayesha.purcell
Field of study: MPhil in Classical Archaeology
Home country: UK

Hi! My name is Ayesha and this year I’ll be one of your welfare officers, along with the wonderful Leah. Our main jobs are to provide the free food (!!!) for weekly welfare teas, organise extra wellbeing activities (film screenings, yoga, professional massages etc…), and to answer any questions about how to survive, and enjoy, Oxford. Whether you’re living in or out, we want the MCR to feel like a haven - so if you have any ideas about how we can do this, just email us and we’ll do our best to help.

I grew up in Liverpool and although the accent has faded, my strong feelings about the best Beatle (George), the superiority of the North (sorry Oxford,) and the seismic importance of Istanbul ’05, have not. Before coming to Oxford, I did my undergrad up at St Andrews, Scotland, in Mediaeval History and Archaeology. I am now starting the second year of an MPhil in Classical Archaeology, in which I focus on identity, gender & sexuality, and religion in the multicultural communities of the Roman Empire. In my spare time I can normally be found with my plants (see Figure 1) or dancing (ideally to ABBA, Lizzo, or Prince).


Harry Daniels, arts & research officer

E-mail: harry.daniels
Field of study: DPhil in English Literature
Home country: UK

Hello all, I'm Harry and I'll be your Arts & Research Officer this year. I'm currently studying for a DPhil in English literature. I have a lot of fun events planned for the academic year ahead, including a termly literary salon, the Holywell Manor Festival for 2020, as well as the usual Open Mic nights, opera trips, gallery goings, and film nights. Please do get in touch if you'd like to help out with organising any of these.


emile okada, environmental officer

E-mail: emile.okada
Field of study: DPhil in Mathematics
Home country: Norway/Japan

Hi everyone, I’m Emile and I will be one of your environmental officers this year. My role is to make college a greener place and there is a lot we’re hoping to do this upcoming year! Continuing on efforts from previous years we’re looking at ways to reduce food waste from hall, help college to divest from fossil fuels, increase the amount and variety of vegan food offered at social events and in hall, reduce the carbon footprint of the manor, and generally try to raise awareness of the various ways you can reduce waste in day to day life (we’ll be sending out emails about zero-waste events and suppliers, second hand stalls, and charity shops). We’re also always on the lookout for suggestions and volunteers to help run some of these initiatives so if any of this sounds like something you would like to help with or if you have an idea you would like to share with us please don’t hesitate to get in touch with either Christoph or me!


Christoph Höppke, environmental officer

Hi all, I’m Christoph and will be running your environmental officer team together with Emile Okada. We will make ensure that graduate living in Balliol college becomes more sustainable.

Over the past years many initiatives have been put into place by previous environmental officers that we strive to continue. From replacing paper towels, offering a college internal donations and summer storage to reducing food waste in the hall we strive to make our daily lives less wasteful. We also support the motion to push Oxford colleges to divest their endowment from fossil fuel and negotiate with fund managers about green investment alternatives. We will setup an Email newsletter with helpful tips about living a greener life and raise awareness for zero-waste or charity events. If you have a suggestion on how we can make our lives in college greener or if you would like to help run some of our initiatives that please reach out to Emile or me!


Lois Ogunlana, living out

E-mail: lois.ogunlana
Field of study: Interdisciplinary Biosciences
Nationality: Dual British-Nigerian

Hey All! My name is Lois and I am your living out rep! I am currently doing a DPhil in Zoology and I work with antibiotic resistant bacteria! I promise I won't bring any of those to the MCR. Although you may not live in Balliol graduate accommodation, the MCR is still your home so come hang! My job involves making sure people living out feel as welcome as possible which includes running some living out events and encouraging people living out to participate in MCR run events. I am also very welcome to suggestions on how to make those living out gain more from being a member of the MCR so please let me know any ideas you may have! My hobbies include playing the SIMS 4 and complaining about how the SIMS 3 is better than the SIMS 4.


María del Río-Chanona, sports officer

E-mail: maria.delriochanona
Field of study: DPhil in Mathematics
Home country: Mexico (latin ethnicity)

Hey! My name is Maria. I am a fourth year DPhil student in maths focusing on studying the economy as a complex system.

I am here to encourage and facilitate Balliol MCR members to participate in sport activities. During the academic year we hope to have weekly events such as yoga, football 5-a-side games, and interval training. We also run some less frequent tournaments and sports challenges. Furthermore, we oversee gym equipment too so if there is anything you would like to have please let me know.

If you have any suggestions or would like to run some event feel free to contact me! I can always help with budget ;)


Harriet Lester, women’s officer

E-mail: mcr.women
Field of study: Interdisciplinary Biosciences
Home country: UK

My name is Harriet and I am a fourth year PhD student studying Biochemistry. I am this years womens officer for the Balliol MCR. My role is to represent student who identify as women. This includes being a point of contact for those who experience sexual harassment or discrimination within their studies or socially. We also host events for women throughout the year; including the Lady Dervorguilla seminar (named after the co-founder of Balliol), dinners and drinks in order to establish a network for women throughout your college life. If you have any issues, questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact me via email.


Natasha Noman, ethnic minorities officer

E-mail: natasha.noman
Field of study: MPhil Modern South Asian Studies
Home country: USA/UK/Pakistan

Hi, everyone! I'm a second year MPhil student; my thesis is on mediatization of the LGBTQ community in Pakistan — in other words, how does this community harness social media, from identity formation to collectivization?

I am a queer woman, myself, and mixed race (Pakistani father, Brit-South African mother) and I grew up between the US, Pakistan, and the UK. I am deeply passionate about representation and elevating traditionally marginalized voices. I was a journalist for a number of years before coming to Oxford — working in both the US and Pakistan — and I worked tirelessly to integrate this mission into my work. To that end, I also work in theatre and television, the main motivation for which is the promotion of diversity. I value this role in the MCR because I truly believe the more diverse, integrated, and tolerant the Balliol community, the stronger we are.

If you have any concerns, musings, or incidents you'd like to discuss relating to race/ethnicity/identity (or anything else), please do not hesitate to contact me. I will do whatever I can to help or support you.

I'm also looking forward to liaising with the social secretaries to put on cultural events, such as Eid and Diwali celebrations. If you have any suggestions, please do let me know.


matthew herdman, lgbtq+ officer

E-mail: matthew.herdman
Field of study: Interdisciplinary Biosciences
Home country: UK

Hello and welcome to the Balliol MCR! I’m Matt, a DPhil student studying Microbiology and this year’s LGBTQ+ officer for the Balliol MCR. I originally come from the sunny Irish paradise of Belfast where I did my undergraduate degree before moving to the white bricked streets of Oxford.

For me, moving to Oxford was my first real exposure to LGBTQ+ culture and I’ve made some tremendous friends as a result. I hope to carry that feeling of community forward this year and look forward to maintaining the Balliol MCR’s homonormative environment where everyone can feel comfortable and welcomed. As the LGBTQ+ officer, it is my job to represent the interests of the MCR’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer/Questioning members to the college. I make up part of the broader welfare team and am always happy to chat with people regarding whatever issues they have, be they related to LGBTQ+ experiences or not. If you experience any harassment or judgement regarding your sexuality or gender identity, I am here to support you. In addition to welfare, I will be hosting social, fundraising, and education events focused on LGBTQ+ history and identity throughout the year. I’m always open to new ideas and events, so feel free to approach me if you’d like to get involved.


eddie jones, disabilities officer

E-mail: edward.jones
Field of Study: DPhil in Ancient History
Home Country: UK

Hello! I’m Eddie, your Disabilities Officer for this year. I’m here to provide practical and emotional support to students with disabilities of any kind. Please do get in touch if you have any questions concerning university services offered to students (e.g. the DAS – The Disability Advisory Service), accommodation (and its accessibility), or anything else you think I could help you with. On a more general note, it’s my responsibility to guarantee that all MCR events are accessible, though if you have any concerns about access please, once again, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

P.s. I’m planning on organising some events (along with other welfare team members) this year. All are welcome! :)


duncan martinson, it officer

E-mail: mcr.computing.officer
Field of study: DPhil in Mathematics
Home country: United States

Hello! I’m Duncan Martinson and I’ll be your IT officer for the year. I’m in charge of maintaining the MCR email listservs, as well as updating the current MCR website. My main project throughout this year will be to improve and redesign the website you’re currently visiting, and I will complete the room database so that you can choose a room next Spring with the most complete information as possible. If you need to be added to any Balliol MCR email list, please sent me an email to let me know.

I’m a second year DPhil student working in the Mathematical Biology group; I study mathematical models that describe how blood vessels grow to tumors. I’m pretty active in the Triathlon Club as well; feel free to ask me how to get involved with any athletic clubs here in Oxford!


Ashna Patel, affiliations officer

E-mail: ashna.patel
Field of study: DPhil in Interdisciplinary Biosciences
Home country: UK

Hello!! I’m Ashna, and am looking forward to helping out the amazing community that is Balliol MCR! I am currently studying for a DPhil in Computational Immunology, but away from the lab you can find me on the squash court, climbing wall, drinking chai or galavanting round London (where I previously studied at Imperial). Come chat to me about any of those things and more!


Kath Leong, general officer

E-mail: katherine.leong
Field of study: MPhil in Economics
Home country: Australia

Hi, I'm Katherine, one of your General Officers. I'm here to help the Committee as and where needed, as well as picking up tasks which don't fall under a particular role.

I'm originally from Sydney where I did my undergraduate degree in between wine tastings and chasing down new dumpling restaurants. I'm now doing an MPhil in Economics and love talking about absolutely anything related to monetary policy.


Eloïse Hamilton, general officer

E-mail: eloise.hamilton
Field of Study: DPhil in Mathematics
Nationality: Dual French-Australian

Hello everyone, I’m Eloise, one of your General Officers for this year. It’s my fourth year here at Balliol, and I have no doubt that you will enjoy being a part of the Balliol MCR as much as I have these past three years. As a General Officer, I’m here to help the Committee as best I can, especially with sports and environmental-related matters. You’ll soon find out that the MCR is a very active community and I encourage you all to get involved (and help out!); doing so has certainly shaped my time at Oxford so far.

Feel free to ask me any questions about Balliol and Oxford when you see me. When I’m not thinking about maths, I’m mostly playing tennis or singing in the Balliol choir (do consider joining, it’s really a lot of fun).