Paul Curran (geographer)

Sir Paul James Curran FRGS (born 17 May 1955) is president of City, University of London. He took up his post in August 2010.[1][2] Following a period of significant progress, City joined the University of London federation in September 2016.[3] He previously served as vice-chancellor of Bournemouth University (2005–10) and deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Southampton, where he is currently a visiting professor.[4] As a member of the senior management team at Southampton, progressing from head of geography to dean of science, Curran was credited with high-profile leadership as head of the Winchester School of Art, part of the University of Southampton.


A former NASA research scientist and advisor to the European Space Agency,[5] Curran's research interests include investigations into global environmental change, in particular the movement of carbon between the atmosphere and forests. His award-winning work in Earth observation, involving the use of satellite sensors to monitor the environment at local to global scales, is widely published and he is the youngest recipient of the Remote Sensing Society's Gold Medal.

He is a member of the board of trustees for London Higher;[6]; a member of Universities UK and its Research Policy and Innovation & Growth Policy Committees and president of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society. He was chair of the national Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB),[7][8][9] where his 2015 report on hospital doctors' contracts sparked controversy in a stated attempt to the move to seven-day-a-week healthcare services;[10] founding chair of the board of trustees for The Conversation UK;[11]; chair of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) Board and led the employers' negotiating team in the national pay negotiations;,[12] a member of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and its remuneration committee and the chair of its Audit & Risk Assurance Committee;[13] the chair of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Higher Education Workforce Steering Group and a Member of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Board and its Remuneration and Audit Committees.

Curran received a BSc from the University of Sheffield in 1976, an MBA from the University of Southampton in 1998 and PhD and DSc degrees from the University of Bristol in 1979 and 1991 respectively. He is a Chartered Geographer and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society and Chartered Management Institute. His PhD was followed by academic appointments at the universities of Reading and Sheffield before moving to NASA Ames Research Center in 1988. He held established chairs in physical geography at the University of Wales, Swansea from 1990 and the University of Southampton from 1993.

Personal life

Curran is married, with one daughter. His leisure interests include boating and middle distance running.[14]


In 2007, Queen Elizabeth II approved the award of the Patron's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for his ‘international development of geographical science through remote sensing and Earth observation’.[15]

Curran holds honourary doctorates from Grand École ESCP, Paris (2017) and Peter the Great University St Petersburg, Russia (2019) and is a Freeman of the City of London (2017).

Curran was knighted in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to higher education.[16][17]

Select works

  • Phenology of Vegetation (2011)
  • Evaluation of Envisat (2011)
  • Validating the MERIS (2010)
  • Indian Ocean Tsunami (2007)
  • Landcover Classification (2007)
  • Evaluation of the MERIS (2007)
  • Relating SAR Image Texture (2005)
  • The MERIS Terrestrial Chlorophyll Index (2004)
  • A Comparison of Texture Measures (2004)
  • The Slope of the Playing Field (1994)


  1. "New Vice-Chancellor for City University". Perrett Laver.
  2. "Interview with our new Vice-Chancellor". City University London.
  3. "City University London to join University of London". Times Higher Education.
  4. University homepage
  5. The European Space Agency Earth Science Advisory Committee.
  6. "London Higher Board – London Higher". London Higher. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  7. "DDRB Review Body Member Biographies". Archived from the original on 30 June 2013.
  8. "Professor Paul Curran named Chair of the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration". Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  9. "Public Appointments to the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration". Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  10. "Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration – Forty-Third Report 2015" (PDF). Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration.
  11. "The Conversation UK Board of Trustees". The Conversation UK.
  12. "UCEA Board Membership". Universities and Colleges Employers Association.
  13. "NERC Council biographies". Natural Environment Research Council.
  14. "Who's Who". A & C Black. 2011.
  15. "Golden Achievers". Archived from the original on 7 January 2012.
  16. "No. 61450". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2015. p. N2.
  17. "New Year's Honours 2016 list" (pdf). GOV.UK. 30 December 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Gillian Slater
Vice-Chancellor of Bournemouth University
Succeeded by
John Vinney
Preceded by
Julius Weinberg
President of City, University London

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