UCL News


Spotlight on... Leonie Tanczer

21 May 2019

Leonie is a Lecturer in International Security and Emerging Technologies at the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP).

Leonie Tanczer

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am Lecturer in International Security and Emerging Technologies at the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP), where I currently lead the “Gender and IoT” (G-IoT) research project – which I recommend everyone to have a look at! I am totally passionate about it. I am also member of the Advisory Council of the Open Rights Group (ORG) and affiliated with UCL's Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR).

My role - or rather my roles - involve a lot of different things. So it’s quite a list: research – which includes working on academic publications; teaching and supervision – I lead the Digital Technologies and Policy course as well as the Science Advice elective and overlook dissertation projects; policy/media/public engagement – which ranges from feeding into consultations, responding to questions from journalists, to speaking at public events; academic leadership – organising conferences and panels or editing special issues; income generation – we all know research funding has become incredibly important for universities and the ability to conduct studies; administration and line management – for instance, I am chair of our departmental Ethics Committee; executive education – in particular training for domestic abuse charities who I currently work with;  and last but not least consultancy – which is a way to combine research with practice. So yeah, I am keeping myself quite busy! 

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I’ve been at UCL since January 2017. Prior to my lectureship appointment, I was Postdoctoral Research Associate for the EPSRC-funded PETRAS Internet of Things (IoT) Research Hub, where I was part of its "Standards, Governance and Policy" research team.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Oh wow, I am not sure… but perhaps my commitment to bring better cybersecurity practices to diverse communities, including academia through so-called CryptoParties (i.e., digital security trainings) as well as through workshops with domestic abuse charities as part of the G-IoT project. 

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list

Definitely the earlier mentioned G-IoT research! It is an interdisciplinary project exploring the implications of smart, Internet-connected devices on gender-based domestic violence and abuse. It started as a small pilot project in 2018 and has since then become the prime focus of my research. Most recently, I have also become part of one of eight UKRI-funded mental health networks. As member of the "Violence, Abuse and Mental Health: Opportunities for Change" (VAMHN) network led by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), I am studying how new digital technologies are changing people's experiences of abuse and how this impacts mental health. Very exciting!

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Funnily enough, I was asked the same question for a spotlight feature as part of the PETRAS Internet of Things Research Hub. I stick to the answer I gave back then. While I don’t know how well these people would get on with each other, I’d probably invite members of L0pht, people involved in the Chaos Computer Club, the Cult of the Dead Cow, and Hackers on Planet Earth. I’d add a couple of activists such as Eva Galperin from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, feminist role models such as Donna Haraway, and I’d sneakily put J. K. Rowling on the guest list too.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I said this before, but it holds true: Don’t work too hard.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

Strangely, I do own an IoT device now! 

What is your favourite place?  

I can only think of the Wizard of Oz quote: “There’s no place like home”!