Global Challenges Academy

Staff Profile

Professor Andy Large

Professor in River Science


I am a field-based Physical Geographer with 30 years’ experience in interdisciplinary river science.  This has been underpinned by more than £18 million of UKRI funding (primarily NERC) since 2008.

My research strengths lie across a number of interlinked areas: 

(a) cutting-edge and novel approaches to quantifying river hydromorphology

(b) research on social and physical effects of flooding 

(c) developing the science base to better quantify how rivers benefit society though provisioning, regulating and cultural  ‘ecosystem services’.

(d) working with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards more climate change resilient mega-deltas in South and SE Asia.  This is in my role as Principal Investigator on the UKRI GCRF Living Deltas Hub (£15.3m: 2019-2024


My UKRI-funded science advances our understanding of the processes behind flooding from intense rainfall and catchment geomorphological response to this, so that we are better equipped to manage societal vulnerability, risk and resilience, response and recovery.

I mentor the next generation of scientists, supervising 21 postgraduate students: 18 PhD (8 current, 10 completed) and 4 MPhil.  All completed PhDs are in high profile careers in areas of national policy (e.g. UK flood risk management) to academia (lecturer to Deputy Vice-Chancellor level).  I have acted as PhD Examiner to 10 UK and overseas Universities.

I am Secretary to the International Society for River Science.

I have strong connections with local and national industrial, commercial and public sectors.  Examples include PhD studentships funded by the Tyne Rivers Trust, Scottish National Heritage and United Utilities with the EA via STREAM (the Industrial Doctoral Centre for the Water Industry).


Now more than ever the world is facing challenges that need a collective response. We are living in a globally inter-connected world where everything from climate change, pandemics and employment to conflict, water security and mass migration are linked and impact us all. The UK Government’s answer to some of the world’s most pressing challenges is 12 new Global Interdisciplinary Research Hubs which seek to develop creative and sustainable solutions to make the world, and the UK, safer, healthier and more prosperous. At Newcastle University I am Principal Investigator on, and Director of, the £15.3 million UKRI GCRF Living Deltas Research Hub (

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) forms part of the UK Government’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, and is a £1.5 billion fund to address the global issues faced by developing countries. GCRF harnesses expertise of the UK’s world-leading researchers working in tandem with their global research partner networks, focusing on: challenge-led, disciplinary and interdisciplinary research; strengthening capability for research, innovation and knowledge exchange; providing agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need.

Together, the Hubs are among the most ambitious investment the UK has to date made in international development research. They aim to position the UK as a leader in development research and promote the dignity and prosperity for some of the most disadvantaged and hardest to reach people on our planet. Their sheer scale and ambition is what makes them so exciting with researchers working in partnership with governments, NGOs, community groups and international agencies across 85 countries. Each Hub has the potential to transform the quality of life for many people throughout the world and help safeguard our planet for future generations. Their research activities will be vital for global development, helping us to understand where we are today, what we could achieve in the future and providing innovative tools, strategies and policies to achieve these goals.

Focusing on three major deltas in Asia, the Red River, Mekong and the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna, the UKRI GCRF Living Deltas Hub operates on a model of equitable partnership with delta-dwellers and the research community working together to develop new knowledge and policies to safeguard delta futures through more resilient communities and sustainable development.


The Anthropocene was formally proposed in 2000 as Earth's newest epoch - a period in which humanity's impact on the planet rivals that of the great geological forces. Humans are changing the Earth's biophysical system: atmospheric and ocean climatology, the extent of snow cover, permafrost, ice sheet and ocean volume and indeed the entire hydrological cycle.  But in the past few years, this concept has escaped its geological confines to emerge as a new paradigm that embodies and altered human-environment relationships, and natural and social scientists, humanists, artists, educators and journalists are beginning to examine this concept from a variety of perspectives. From 2015 onwards, I have convened the HASS Faculty-funded Anthropocene Research Group at Newcastle University .  This Group seeks to facilitate discussion and funding applications around fundamental questions pertaining to the rapidly emerging and evolving paradigm of the Anthropocene.  In 2015 I was appointed leader of an Anthropocene Rivers working group in the International Society for River Science.  


Undergraduate Teaching 2019-2020

GEO2037 Ireland Field course (Stage 2)