Some people might think academics and music are a strange mix, but not Ricky Curran. As a full professor of Air Transport & Operations (ATO) and singer and guitarist of the band Doc. Curran and the Revelators, he feels the two things share a very important factor.

“As a researcher, you continue to have to be creative,” he said. “Creativity is the link.” Lucky for Curran, he has the same sort of passion for both research and music.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Curran studied aerodynamics and later did his PhD in ocean wave energy. His studies and early career inspired an interest in working with renewable energy. Joining TU Delft in 2008 gave him the opportunity to work on multi-disciplinary applied research that aims to create more sustainable air transportation. Working closely with airlines, Curran and his team focus on ways to improve aircraft operations by optimizing things such as noise pollution, emissions, capacity, costs, safety and efficiency.

In talking to Curran it is clear that he enjoys his work. But his passion becomes even more evident when he talks about music. “I always knew about music,” he said, explaining that he grew up singing in church. At the age of 14 Curran got his first guitar. He never had a formal lesson, but instead learned by listening to music and playing with friends.

Jimi Hendrix was his biggest musical inspiration. But Curran also counts Eric Clapton and B.B. King as early influences, followed later by old blues masters such as Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. “I don’t know where it comes from, but when I hear blues it just clicks,” he said.

Doc. Curran and the Revelators perform in and around Delft about twice a month. Venues include pubs, music festivals and the occasional faculty party. They play a mix of blues and rock, including some original music and cover songs.

Curran, who enjoys writing music, said songwriting is similar to investigation. He believes that if you want to understand a song, you have to think conceptually. “Music is in the moment, dynamic,” he said. “You have to continue improvising.”

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