Meet the team behind the Michael Smith Quad

by | Jun 18, 2024 | Environmental Sustainability (ES) | 0 comments

Nestled within the heart of the Michael Smith Building, a cutting-edge centre for innovation and pioneering research, the Quad Garden is a perfect example of how nature and urban life coexist on our vibrant campus.

Originally an unkempt and mundane outdoor space, since its relaunch in 2017, the quad is now a thriving and biodiverse habitat for an array of wildlife species, as well as a tranquil sanctuary for staff and students. Encircling the garden’s pond is a variety of wildflower borders, hay meadows, hedges, and large trees, as well as a series of raised beds, each looked after by a team of volunteers.

However, the Quad is more than just a biodiverse space; it’s a hub for community engagement and education. This year, several events were hosted in the Quad, such as gardening classes, plant sales and bioblitzes, fostering a sense of shared responsibility for the garden’s well-being and maintenance, as well as highlighting the University’s Sustainability Agenda.

The hard work and dedication of the sustainability team, including the landscaping team, quad managers, and volunteers has been essential in ensuring the quad remains a flourishing space. This blog will introduce some of individuals working on the quad, highlighting their contributions and passion for the space.

Brenden (Bred) Beckett (Quad Manager) – 1st year PhD Student in the Soil & Ecosystem Ecology Lab, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Taking over from former Quad Managers, Issy and Lily, Bred (Brenden) brings with him expertise in biodiversity, forestry and soil health. Currently doing his PhD on plant-herbivore interactions, Bred pursued his Master of Research on forests and biodiversity. This led him to Sweden and France, where he investigated the impact of forestry on spider populations, developing an interest in how we can enhance the species diversity of forests and woodland areas. He pursued this interest further at Forest Research where he worked on invasive pest management.

Brenden previously worked as head of communications at UK Youth 4 Nature, a youth-led organization mobilising and empowering young people across the UK to advocate for nature conservation and climate action. During his time, he led several impactful projects, including ‘Wild Walls’, a campaign that collaborated with local artists and communities to create striking murals in cities across the country, successfully capturing the attention of political leaders on important environmental issues.

Bred plans to devise a long-term plan for the quad that will enhance ecological health and secure a sustainable future for the space. He also aims to create a community feel as well as engage more students through educational sessions, such as techniques for invertebrate identification, which would not only teach students key biodiversity monitoring techniques but would also help monitor species present in the quad. He’s keen to unite many aspects of the Quad’s success into wider campus behaviour and grow engagement in our green spaces.

Lewis Brown (Landscape Foreman) – Environmental Services Unit, Directorate of Estates and Facilities

Having begun his career in 2002, Lewis has a wealth of experience in the horticulture industry. Prior to joining the University’s Landscaping Team in 2005, Lewis worked for a landscape construction company, where he was involved in several exciting projects, incorporating landscape design projects across Manchester and Cheshire, including the RHS Tatton flower shows.

As part of his role, Lewis has been heavily involved in the maintenance of the quad grounds. His responsibilities encompass general upkeep, including grass cutting, hedge trimming, and weeding the paving. Beyond routine tasks, Lewis engages in targeted efforts to benefit wildlife, including work on the trees encircling the pond to maximise light availability to aquatic plants and planting additional hedges to create new wildlife habitats.

Min Zi (Quad Gardening Volunteer) – Research Associate, Division of Cardiovascular Sciences

When she isn’t in the laboratory conducting research, Min channels her passion for gardening by volunteering at the Quad. She has dedicated much time and effort to maintaining a charming cottage garden, even throughout the pandemic! With her help, the garden boasts an array of delightful plants, including a Victorian plum tree, a variety of seasonal flowers and has even attracted the attention of a family of blackbirds and blue tits.

Min hopes the Quad can continue to be used as a space that provides benefit for staff, students and any wildlife.   

If you’d like to find out how you can get involved with the Quad, please contact

To find out more about Environmental Sustainability: visit the Faculty’s intranet page, website, read our ES Good Newsletter or contact . For more information on Environmental Sustainability at the University watch this short film or visit their website.