Student Volunteering

Our students are closely integrated into the cutting-edge research underway at the BIFoR FACE facility. Since we opened up opportunities for students to volunteer with us, they have clocked-up a staggering total of 1778 hours of volunteering.  Read some of our volunteers' stories on our blog.  

To sign up now to become part of a our network please email d.brettle@bham.ac.uk. In signing up you will: 

  • Receive the BIFoR bi-annual newsletter
  • Receive news from our stakeholders about internships available / summer projects available
  • Hear about opportunties to volunteer with BIFoR 
  • Hear from PhD students looking for regular additional support with lab / field work - training provided

A calendar of opportunties to volunteer can be found on our blog 

We try to keep track of volunteering hours so we can give service awards and write references accordingly. It also helps you identify on your CV to future employers the level of commitment given. 

  • BIFoR Bronze Volunteer – completes 15 hours of volunteering
  • BIFoR Silver Volunteer - completes 30 hours of volunteering
  • BIFoR Gold Volunteer – completes 50 hours of volunteering

Volunteering with BIFoR can also count towards your Personal Skills Award

What do students say about volunteering with BIFoR?

Mattie Park, a Geography student at Univeristy of Birmingham said, "During my time at BIFoR I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the team, who made me feel like a valuable member, while also taking the opportunity to practice fieldwork skills in a proper outdoor laboratory. The work was interesting, enjoyable and I would thoroughly recommend gaining some work experience at BIFoR to anyone with an interest in that type of science." Read more

Rejwana, who completed a summer voluntary internship with BIFoR in 2019 through the  Nuffield Summer Research Placement said,  "I have had so much fun on this placement and have learnt so much in a university environment. I would definitely recommend taking up one for BIFoR as bias as it is, I am grateful for this opportunity and all the people who have made this experience worthwhile." Read more 

Ekta, who also completed a summer voluntary internship with BIFoR in 2019, said, "I wholly enjoyed my experience as it was a real eye opener to exactly what kind of situations or conditions trigger a scientist to do research about a particular topic, or how research requires you to look at the specific details and look to improve the world around us – especially when the world is changing so drastically due to global warming." Read more.

Deemah, who came to us on a Nuffield Summer Research Placement said, " Overall, my experience at BIFoR was extremely entertaining and engaging; I’ve discovered much about trees and their significance to the environment and us, in particular, the different diseases that affect them which puts them at risk. This is something that I would recommend to aspiring scientists or researchers as I’ve been obliged for the opportunity.   Read more.

Elizabeth Ogilivie, a second year Biosciences student at UoB, said “Volunteering with BIFoR has been a wonderful experience, I’ve learnt lots of new data handling skills, and become especially good at sorting the dried leaves collected from the woodland! It feels great knowing that the work I am doing is going to be used for real research that will help us to better understand the effects of climate change.” 

Gold level volunteer Sarah Sheehan, who completed a summer placement in 2018 said, “Each day was unique and varied, enabling me to gain deep insights into the different components” 

Examples of volunteering activity at the BIFoR FACE facility site

Samples are being collected weekly from the BIFoR FACE Facility. Our research team have been onsite taking the following samples but all extra hands are always appreciated. Some examples of the samples we’ve taken include:

data-logger-280x210Sophisticated kit to record atmospheric measurements. Data needs to be downloaded.
photographing-canopy-280x210Images of the canopy have been taken to record Leaf Area Index information.
fallen-leaves-280x210Fallen leaves are collected in leaf litter traps. These have been collected weekly during Autumn and now need analysis.
data-logger-maintenance-280x210Hydrology kit such as soil moisture probes are linked up to these dataloggers. 
trap-sample-126x236Ecological samples from pitfall traps are collected for later analysis


Examples of volunteering activity for BIFoR on campus

We need people to help analyse samples already taken from the BIFoR FACE Facility. This could include some laboratory based work or field work Some examples of volunteering in 2018/2019:

  • help look through videos from our camera traps (image right)  
  • help sort through our leaf samples 
  • help with taking the measurements of the area of leaves 
  • help with public engagement events 
  • help with our quarterly soil campaign. Soil samples are separated by horizon, roots picked, sieved and weighed for ongoing analysis. Volunteers will also help with calculation of soil moisture and bulk density.
  • help prepare membranes for deployment in the field 
  • help take images of roots using a minirhizotron camera 
  • help move our soil respiration kit 
  • help take measurements of tree growth (dendrometers)

To register your interest in volunteering, please contact Dee Brettle on d.brettle@bham.ac.uk or phone 0121 4146146 or look on our blog for current opportunties.

trap-camera-280x210badger-280x210

Alumni Impact Funding 2017/2018

We are delighted to have received Alumni Impact Funding to strengthen BIFoR’s engagement with students. This year, with thanks to Student Engagement Projects Officer, Hazel Lodhi and our expanding team of PhD students, we have a much clearer idea of how we can engage with students and already since August 2017 we can estimate that some 550 hours of volunteering have taken place. Undergraduate students have either been assigned to a PhD student / academic member of staff to be a “volunteer research assistant” or have signed up to receive information about “one-off” opportunities as they come up.

The Alumni Impact Funding will allow us to source items that will help strengthen this positive engagement to date such as; branded BIFoR volunteer clothing; water-proof clothing for site visits; the purchase of items to provide as rewards for volunteering; additional scientific equipment to use on site such as portable CO2 sensors, callipers and leaf temperature monitors. Students will also be able to claim back their train travel costs and we’ll arrange for mini-buses to take students up to BIFoR FACE so they can see the research facility themselves.

See the video about volunteering and how we've spent this funding in this 4 minute video