Professor James Curran takes the lead

19 September 2017

Professor James Curran
Professor James Curran

Professor James Curran will be Head of the Department of Statistics from next February, for a four-year term.

James, who succeeds Associate Professor Ilze Ziedins, will be responsible for academic and professional leadership, budgets, teaching and staff in Australasia’s largest statistics department. He will also be the liaison between the department and the overarching Faculty of Science.

Dean of Science Professor John Hosking says that when the time came to consider a new leader, he asked Statistics staff and faculty leaders to write to him with their views. “The outcome of this consultation was a very clear mandate for James to be the new head, with very strong support from across the department,” he says. “I know James well, and I am sure he will provide excellent leadership.”

James says his game plan is “to make sure we stay strong as a department, and as leaders both in the Australasian region as well as globally. Turnover due to retirement will continue to be an issue, and we will need a constant flow of new staff.”

The department also has significant collaborative data science ventures in the works, he adds, “We anticipate that these programmes will be very successful, and that we will experience considerable growth over the next three to five years.” 

James, who did his BSc, MSc and PhD in the Department of Statistics before a stint in the United States and then at the University of Waikato, is an international leader in the field of statistical problems in forensic science. He has worked with forensic agencies in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, and produces and maintains expert systems software for the interpretation of evidence. He has appeared in courtrooms in the United States and Australia as an expert witness on evidence related to DNA and shattered glass.

James serves on several committees in the United States that set the standards for forensic science, as well as being the President of the New Zealand Forensic Science Society, the Vice-President of the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society and the Editor-in-Chief of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Statistics.