‘Messed Up!’ Series

“Messed Up!” is a live seminar series in a talk show format where our SECReT hosts will engage with budding and established academics to discuss mistakes, failures and the less glorious aspects of academia that do not necessarily make it into research papers.

That’s right, we’re interested in failure.

All of the Messed Up episodes are also available through podcasts on Spotify!

Latest sessions


Messed Up! 12: Adapting to new environments


06 April 2022| Alina is a lecturer at the Department of Security and Crime Science. She is broadly interested and uses spatial crime analysis, social media mining, predictive analytics, safety perception, neighborhood disorder, GISciencea and urban informatics. Alina joined us to talk about her experiences moving around the globe for her academic career.


Messed Up! 11: Common PhD pitfalls

19 January 2022| Vas is the Business Development Director at the Department of Security & Crime Sciences. He will be sharing his stories and experiences in helping our department over the past 16 years, focusing on what makes or breaks a research grant proposal and what can cause PhD student meltdowns.


Messed Up! 10: Finding jobs through rejections

20 October 2021 | Patricio is a lecturer in UCL’s Security and Crime Science Department. His research is mostly focused on organised crime in Mexico, particularly extorsion. He obtained his PhD in Security and Crime Science in 2020. In this episode, he shares his experiences of and advice for finding a job in academia.


Messed Up! 9: Tackling procrastination

21 July 2021 | Alex is a PhD student at the Department of Security and Crime Science. Next to his PhD on migrant smuggling and trafficking networks in West and Africa, Alex is a Senior Analyst at the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime specialising on armed groups, terrorism, migration, and sub-state political dynamics. Alex and our hosts will be discussing his experience and failures with procrastination, and how to increase productivity.


Messed Up! 8: Early Teaching Mistakes

30 June 2021 | Toby Davies is a lecturer at the Department of Security and Crime Science. His research interests include complex systems, networks, crime, and riots. Toby and our hosts will be discussing his experience and failures with teaching and how to learn from early mistakes to become a better educator.


Messed Up! 7: Paper rejections

19 May 2021 | Jyoti Belur, Associate Professor at the UCL Department of Security and Crime Science, will be discussing her experience and failures with publishing, and how to deal with paper rejections and unsavoury reviews.


Messed Up! 6: Ethics proofing your research

21 April 2021 | Kartikeya Tripathi, lecturer and chair of the Ethics Committee at the UCL Department of Security and Crime Science, discusses his experience and failures with ethics. Specifically on getting ethics approval and what it means to produce ethically sound research on the field.


Messed Up! 5: Media relations

17 March 2021 | Ella Cockbain, associate Professor at the UCL Department of Security and Crime Science, discusses her experience and failures with media relations. Specifically, about handling media as a researcher, the do’s and don’ts of social media and how to successfully disseminate research through this channel.


Messed Up! 4: Painful Presentations

24 February 2021 | Professor Kate Bowers, director of UCL’s Jill Dando Institute and Department of Security and Crime Science, discusses her experience and failures with presentations. Specifically, about the anxiety of talking about our research, the importance of striking a balance being complex yet succinct and how we can improve our presentations skills.


Messed Up! 3: Fund Fiction

13 January 2021 | Professor Paul Gill, senior lecturer at the Department of Security and Crime Science, discusses the hacks, successes and failures behind research funding applications


Messed Up! 2: Failing the Viva

9 December 2020 | Recent PhD graduates Dr Michael Frith and Dr Chris Lin discuss what to expect (and not to expect) during the final viva – and how to handle it


Messed Up! 1: Effective Writing

11 November 2020 | Professor Richard Wortley, the former director of the Jill Dando Institute and UCL Department of Security and Crime Science, discusses his experience and failures with effective writing.