Skip to content

1st GeoBarrier Workshop Munich, Germany, 6 – 7 June 2018

The IGS Technical Committee on Barrier Systems (TC-B) hosted its 1st GeoBarrier Workshop in Munich, Germany on June 6 – 7, 2018 and had 69 participants from all around the world.
This open event for researchers, designers, consultants, manufacturers, industry insiders and any interested group addressed considerations of technical consensus versus continuing technical needs, educational efforts, and potential publications.

The two day workshop allowed a lot of discussions in the fol-lowing topics and the selected chairmen served as facilitators to foster discussion and interaction.
• Geomembrane Durability (chairman: George Koerner, USA)
• Geomembrane protection (chairman: Richard Brach-man, Canada)
• GCL hydration and controlling factors (chairman: Malek Bouazza, Australia)
• Standard protocols for Construction/Installation Quality Assurance and Quality Control (chairman: Kerry Rowe, Canada and Boyd Ramsey, USA)

Following is a short summary of the Sessions from the June 2018 IGS TC-Barrier Workshop

Geomembrane Durability chaired by George Koerner, Session Chair and Director of the Geosynthetic Institute (GSI), Folsom, USA
The IGS welcomed over 69 civil and geotechnical engineer-ing professionals from around the world to the TC-B work-shop. This unique gathering combines high-level presenta-tions from leading practitioners in the field with significant audience discussion time, enabling participants to share project experience, exchange technical concerns and solutions and network with colleagues who influence diverse applications (projects) containing geosynthetics.

GSI’s involvement over the two days was significant. GSI’s task at the event was to chair the opening morning session of the TC-B workshop on durability. The agenda was stacked with heavy hitting presenters from Germany, the USA and Canada.

Andreas Woehlecke started us off with an overview of the German regulation for geosynthetic used in waste disposal. The BAM mandates that only a relatively thick 2.5 mm HDPE be used in liner systems in Germany. The geomembrane is used in a single composite configuration and can only be made via the wide mouth die case process. It needs to be a monolithic layer of HDPE and cannot be a blended or layered material. The agency’s perspectives on geomembrane durability, service life and end of life is that all materials used in lining system need to exhibit 100 year performance.

Helmut Zanzinger of SKZ was the next speaker in the session. He discussed an autoclave exposure technique to accelerate incubation for Arrhenius modeling. This worked tied in nicely to the first presentation and answered the question of how the Germans verify 100 year performance of materials.

Sam Allen of TRI Environmental was next and thru the audience a major curve ball. He went against convention and discussed other materials than monolithic HDPE geomembranes. He delved into all kinds of issues (sampling, testing, seaming etc.) with multi-component (layered) geomembrane durability. He left the session with the question: There are many different geomembrane formulations that exhibit fantastic physical, mechanical, hydraulic and endurance properties, why don’t we consider broadening our options for containment.

Kerry Rowe of Queen’s University ended the presentation portion of the session with a discussion on antioxidant depletion. He challenged the validity of both the standard and high-pressure DSC tests by contrasting predicted performance with actual field verifications. Much of his findings showed that performance is application specific where extreme environmental conditions will challenge commodity materials but can be managed by high performance geomembranes.
With the conclusion of the presentation phase of the session the discussion began. In true workshop fashion we opened the floor to 90 minutes of exchange. The Questions & Answers were fast and furious. Some of the better examples are listed below;
• Should we restrict the comonomer used in the manufacturer of HDPE (oxtane, heptane, butane etc.)?
• What are the risks if a GM fails?
• Should we insist that the GM exhibit isotropic behavior?
• Should we be making application specific materials (i.e. covers/liners, landfills, brine ponds, high chlorine)
• Do all GM pass a TCLP (Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Potential) test?
• Can someone explain how the anti-oxidant (AO) package diffuses throughout the polymer cross section of a geomembrane with time?
• How do geomembrane seams age? Are they as durable as the parent material?
• What is the durability of textured versus smooth geomembrane?
• What is the effect on durability of CaCO3 or talc in the geomembrane formulation?

In all, the session was exciting and fun. The audience was great and energized the panel to stretch and give many suggestions for going forward and improving geomembranes.

Richard Brachman, Session Chair and Professor, Queen’s University, Canada reports from his session:
The session on Geomembrane Protection reviewed and reflected on where practice is today, and presented findings from recent research to stimulate discussion with the overall goal of advancing practice and guiding future research.

Geomembrane protection chaired by Richard Brachman (Queen’s University, Canada)
Richard Brachman began the session with an overview of the engineering mechanics of geomembrane deformations from coarse gravel. He emphasized that the geomembrane is part of a system, meaning that long-term deformations of one or more components of the system can lead to additional deformation of another. Proper consideration of engineering mechanics was encouraged to understand limitations of past empirical approximations; resolve why some tests show no long-term rupture, while others do; and select an appropriate protection layer to ensure long-term environmental protection.

Kerry Rowe (Queen’s University, Canada) spoke on “Why we need to limit long-term strains”. He presented recently published work (Abdelaal et al. 2014, Ewais et al. 2014) along with additional new findings from an on-going, two-decade-long effort to resolve the issue of whether a poly-ethylene geomembrane can rupture from sustained local gravel indentations. Kerry Rowe presented data that con-firms the end-of-life mechanism for landfill geomembranes involves: i) consumption of protective antioxidants, ii) polymer oxidation, iii) decrease in stress crack resistance, and iv) brittle rupture when combined with sufficiently large sustained tensions from local gravel deformations. His presentation highlighted the importance of considering the effects of modelling the system as it really exists (including the compacted clay or GCL that can deform with time be-low a geomembrane), chemical interaction, and temperature if one is to realistically represent the overall system interactions.

George Koerner (Geosynthetics Institute, USA) presented “Preventing puncture: A US approach”. A review of the original experiments (Narejo et al. 1996) used to derive an equation for the mass of nonwoven geotextile required to prevent geomembrane puncture (Koerner et al. 1996) was presented. These short-term experiments were not in-tended to limit geomembrane strains to a certain level, but rather to find the external pressure required to cause the geomembrane to puncture for a given protrusion height and mass of geotextile, predominately based on hydrostatic pressure testing with truncated cones (Koerner et al. 2010). Findings from four, 10-year-long hydrostatic pressure tests with truncated cones conducted at 22°C (Koerner et al. 2010) were then summarized. There was no puncture with 12-mm-high protrusions at pressures of 430 and 580 kPa, while one puncture occurred for a 38-mm-high protrusion at 52 kPa. The findings were used to update the long-term factor in the puncture equation.

Ulrich Sehrbrock (ICP, Germany) presented “Limiting strain: The German Approach”. He described that the geomem-brane is loaded under vertical pressure with project specific gravel above the geomembrane and a rubber layer beneath the geomembrane (provisions also exist to site specific materials beneath the geomembrane). There are specific requirements for test pressure, temperature and time. Indentations in the geomembrane are recorded by placing a thin, deformable metal sheet beneath the geomembrane. A measure of geomembrane strain is then calcu-lated from the measured indentations. The geotextile protection layer is deemed acceptable if that calculated strain is limited to 0.25%. From his own professional experience, he noted that specifying coarse (16/32 mm) gravel with rounded particles can lead to sharp-edged grains from particle breakage, that need to be considered in the protection layer testing. Last, he commented on the beneficial effects of using sand a protection layer to limit geomembrane indentations.

Richard Brachman gave the final presentation titled “Why allowable strain depends on how it’s measured and calcu-lated”. In terms of how strain is calculated, he showed how consideration of average vs. maximum membrane strain, neglecting bending strains, or neglecting large-displacement effects lead to underestimates of actual geomembrane strain (Eldesouky and Brachman 2018). He clarified that the German method of strain calculation results in an aver-age membrane strain along the indentation and explained that this value is limited to 0.25% with the intent that the maximum extreme fibre strain (considering bending) is below a long-term target of 3% strain, as detailed by Seeger and Müller (2003). In terms of test conditions, he showed how the type of subgrade (none, rubber, clay layer), clay compressibility, temperature and time impacted the strains resulting from the test and presented a new screening method (Brachman et al. 2018) to help select protection layers to limit long-term strains to target allowable limits.

The discussion session was productive and involved debate on why the Abdelaal et al. (2017) and Ewais et al. (2014) studies resulted in brittle rupture, while that of Koerner et al. (2010) did not, and discussion on: how test boundary conditions (boundary friction, flexible vs. rigid load) effect the measured results, construction issues related to place-ment of a sand protection layer, the extent to which whether wrinkles impact geomembrane protection, consideration of different/new materials for applications other than landfill bottom liners, the chemical resistance of polyester vs polypropylene nonwoven geotextiles, and allowable strain limits.

GCL Hydration and Controlling Factors chaired by Malek Bouazza (Monash University, Australia)
Malek Bouazza presented about myths and facts about GCL hydration and informed about conditions in field and how the bentonite hydrates but as hydrates less if the subsoil has a similar suction capacity as the bentonite.

Kerry Rowe then explained how well GCLs hydrate and self-heal as well as factors and effects. It was clear that a GCL under a geomembrane with no confining stress there might be concerns with a GCL. Particularly gran-ular bentonite GCLs seemed to show in the investigated test plot a higher shrinkage and downhill erosion effect than powder bentonite. However, it was mentioned that covered geomembrane/GCL solutions will very likely prevent any of the above mentioned issues.

Craig Benson (University of Wisconsin-Madison) went then in Detail into the topic “Hydration, Swelling, and Hydraulic Conductivity of Bentonite-Polymer Composite GCLs for Aggressive Leachates” and showed lab tests with polymer modified bentonites but also mentioned that there is still a lot to do on research, such as detect-ing the amount of polymer used as well as classifying the polymer type.

Gemmina Di Emidio (Ghent University, Belgium) then introduced research from her work at the University with a special produced polymer-bentonite composition. The topic was “Wet and dry ageing of modified bentonites for GCLs under aggressive conditions”

Standard protocols for Construction/Installation Quality Assurance and Quality Control chaired by Kerry Rowe (Canada) and Boyd Ramsey (USA)
The fourth session focused on installation and installation related issues; problems that were either caused by or could be mitigated and reduced by the use of experienced knowledgeable installation staff and management. Wrin-kles were a key topic: both wrinkle management and the effect and relationship between wrinkles and leakage rates. Regulation and more specifically regulation with enforcement were discussed and emphasized as an important factor in leak prevention and groundwater protection. Electric leak location surveys were another critical and highly effective leakage rate reduction tool with Abigail Gilson Beck’s documentation on the clear numerical relationship between electrical leak surveys and leakage rates being highlighted. Perhaps most important were multiple requests within the session and the surveys to host a focused seminar on geosynthetic installation, perhaps in conjunction with the International Association of Geosynthetic Installers.

Even though it was the end of the last day of the workshops (for some it was the second day but for others it was the fourth workshop day as they also joined the workshop on TC-Reinforcement) all participants had a heavily discussion over 90 minute. The Questions & Answers brought up the following topics, which are listed in no particular order:
• Global improvement in communications with envi-ronmental regulatory bodies. IGS to a national EPA for example.
• Germany/BAM has published a welding manual – utilize or promote globally?
• A description of how to best manage unconfined geosynthetic clay liner materials in the field (and avoid panel separation if at all possible).
• Promote the credentialing and regimented qualifi-cation of welders and installers (with or without IAGI?)
• Conduct a seminar focused on geosynthetic in-stallation.
• How to best support the expansion of the requirement for electric leak location surveys.
• How to best support the required planning and construction details to support electric leak location surveys.
• Create a duplicate of the video shown by Kerry Rowe illustrating wrinkle leakage and head effects.
• How to best support a requirement to require electronic data management of geosynthetic installations.
• How to promote the agglomeration and utilization of “big data” sets for welding, interface friction tests, or other purposes.
Again, we would like to thank all involved people, including the chairmen, the speakers, the participants, the Univer-sity helpers on site, and Dagmar Bräu as well as Terry Ann Paulo our IGS Secretariat Manager.

Reported by
Kent von Maubeuge, (Chairman TC-Barrier Systems and Corporate Committee)

Yoshihisa Miyata


Dr. Yoshihisa Miyata is a Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering, National Defense Academy of Japan. He received his doctoral degree from Kyushu University in 1999. Dr. Miyata specializes in soil reinforcement technology and physical and numerical modeling of geostructures. He has authored or co-authored more than 260 papers in referred journals and conference proceedings and more than 130 technical articles. 

Dr. Miyata is the vice chair of the Japan chapter of IGS. He is also vice-chair of the Technical Committee on Soil Reinforcement in IGS and a board member of Geosynthetics International. As an organizing or scientific committee member, he has contributed to the success of international and regional geotechnical engineering and geosynthetics conferences. Dr. Miyata has received many awards and accolades, including the IGS award twice (2010 and 2023) and the Best Paper awards of ICE Geotechnical Engineering. (2017), Geosynthetic International (2015), Soils and Foundations (2013), Canadian Geotechnical Journal (2008) etc. He gave the 1st Bathurst lecture during the 12th ICG held at Roma in 2023. Dr. Miyata has much experience in geosynthetics. He has strong potential to contribute to the development of IGS.

Please see his detailed information:

Huabei Liu


Dr. Huabei Liu is an engineering professor at Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) with 25 years of experience in geosynthetic applications. Prior to joining HUST, he was granted tenure as an associate professor at the City University of New York in Dec. 2013. His research focuses on the long-term and dynamic responses of GRS structures, which has been materialized as more than 80 refereed journal papers, and has promoted the applications of GRS structures in earthquake-active areas and advanced the use of locally-available fill materials for GRS applications.

Dr. Liu has been an active member of IGS since 2009. Currently he is an IGS Council Member, the Secretary for the Chinese Chapter, an executive board member of China Technological Association of Geosynthetics, and a member of ISSMGE TC 218 “Reinforced fill materials”. He also serves on the editorial boards of the Canadian Geotechnical Journal, Computers and Geotechnics, Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics, and Transportation Infrastructure Geotechnology.

Dr. Liu is looking forward to better serving the community. He is particularly interested in educating younger generations on geosynthetics, and promoting GRS applications in extreme environments.

G L Sivakumar Babu


G L Sivakumar Babu is an active researcher and academic in geosynthetics and contributed significantly. He is the President of Indian Chapter of International Geosynthetics Society. He served as the President of Indian Geotechnical Society during 2017-2020 and was the Chairman of International Technical Committee (TC-302) on Forensic Geotechnical Engineering (FGE) of International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) during 2013-2021. He is a Fellow of ASCE and also served as Governor, ASCE, Region 10 during 2014-2020.

He completed Ph.D.(Geotechnical Engineering) in 1991 from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, after Masters Degree (Soil Mechanics Foundation Engg.) in 1987 from Anna University, Madras and B.Tech. (Civil Engineering) in 1983 from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati. He worked as Humboldt Fellow in Germany during June 1999- July 2000 and as Visiting Scholar, Purdue University, Lafayette, USA during 2/95 – 2/96.

He guided 28 (23 Phds and 5 MS) research degrees and guiding 4 students for PhD. He wrote a book on soil reinforcement and geosynthetics, edited eight books and proceedings and has several publications (International and national Journals -200, International and national conf. more than 200, Total over 400). He received several awards such as John Booker award from IACMAG, Humboldt fellowship from Germany, DST Boyscast Fellowship, and a few awards for the best papers from Indian Geotechnical Society and American Society of Civil Engineers.

Dylan Armour


I believe fundamentally in the role that geosynthetics play in our future. For many countries, traditional methods of construction are often too resource-intensive and costly to apply throughout all levels of their society. Geosynthetics are an equalizing force in sustainable global development.

My career has given me the opportunity to work holistically in many roles and sectors, across a very broad range of stakeholders. As principal position as head of manufacturing in Canada, US and Europe, I have been exposed to a broad range of industry best practices and policy environments. My international business development and project management experience has provided me the opportunity to develop relationships with people around the world.

Finally, my current role as Director of Sustainability and Innovation is the culmination of this journey, which began with my post-graduate specialization in anthropology and sustainable development. I work to develop products, systems, and corporate strategy based on sustainable business practices.

I believe our industry sits at the centre of many of the most pressing conversations facing the world, and I’d be honoured to serve as an elected member of the IGS.

Fernando H. M. Portelinha


Fernando H. M. Portelinha holds a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) and has post-doctoral experience from the University of Texas in Austin (USA). Prof. Portelinha has been a member of the IGS since 2008. In 2018, he was honored with the Young IGS Member Award for his contributions to the Brazilian IGS Chapter and his research with geosynthetics. Currently, Prof. Portelinha serves as a professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the Federal University of Sao Carlos (Brazil), where he has been passionately researching and teaching geosynthetics disciplines for over 10 years. In 2012, he created the Laboratory of Geotechnics and Geosynthetics at the Federal University of Sao Carlos to contribute to the development of geosynthetics in Brazil.

Prof. Portelinha is also a member of the Editorial Board of the Geotextiles and Geomembranes Journal and is involved in the TC-Reinforcement and TC-Barriers committees for the IGS. He has contributed to the Brazilian IGS chapter by delivering courses, organizing conferences, and currently serving as secretary of the Geosynthetics Committee in the Brazilian Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.

Expressing his enthusiasm, Prof. Portelinha is honored to be a candidate and is eager to contribute to IGS initiatives by serving on the IGS council.

Francisco Pizarro


For more than a year as an IGS Council Member and Chair of the Pan American Activities Committee (PAAC), I’ve been able to enhance the development of our chapters across the region through the implementation of the IGS’s core programs. In addition, I have been involved in developing synergies between chapters and organizations, recruiting new lecturers for activities, helping to organize GeoAmericas 2024 and currently assisting a regional chapter to apply to host GeoAmericas 2028. Aside from this, there is still a lot to do. 

My commitment lies with all our chapters in the region to increase the widespread use of geosynthetics throughout the infrastructure and engineering industries.

Gary Ng

(Hong Kong)

I started G and E back in June 1984 in Hong Kong. It was a small contractor until the introduction of Amoco geotextile in 1987. From this point, I kicked off my geosynthetics journey and never looked back, specializing in its application, design, distribution and installation. 40 years later, I recognize the significance of educating the younger generation as a cornerstone of advancing geosynthetics. Being a council member offers me a stronger mandate to provide a helping hand.

I also take a strong view on sustainable construction, in which geosynthetics play an increasingly vital role. Its versatility was presented in my paper at GeoAsia 7 in Taipei, and I am proud to continue this excellency.

Having worked for more than a decade across Southeast Asia and China, I see the advantage of exchanging dialogue and sharing thoughts and technology from this region. Effective liaising with the IGS can be expected with closer geography, better mastering of construction mentality, and a better understanding of customs and culture.

I look forward to the opportunity to serve the IGS family with greater dedication, transitioning from being an ordinary member since 2009, after which time one becomes wiser but still has the energy to make meaningful contributions.

Giulia Lugli


Giulia Lugli, P.E., MBA, is a professional structural engineer with experience in design and project management of civil, and geotechnical structures for the geo-environmental and transportation sectors, especially, but not limited to, reinforced soil structures.

She has served in the Geosynthetic Industry for the past 10 years and is currently Head of the Geosynthetics Business Development team and leads the Vertical Walls division of the Maccaferri Corporate GSY Unit, along with focus on R&D with an eye on digitally enabled and sustainable solutions.

Her daily activities include experience with a broad portfolio of geosynthetics products and solutions for applications as reinforced fill structures and soil stabilization, erosion control, drainage works, coastal protection and basal reinforcement.

She is a member of AGI, IGS and ISSMGE. She has served on the ISSMGE Technical Committee on Reinforced Fill Structures TC218 since 2018: from 2018 to 2020 as Secretary, and from 2018 to date as Chairman.

She has served as Guest-Editor for recognized Journals in the field and authored or co-authored several technical publications.

As potential IGS Council member she would support the organization in any activity with dedication, facilitating the know-how dissemination, especially in the field of reinforcement and drainage.


Ioannis Markou


Ioannis Markou is a Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering of Democritus University of Thrace (DUTh), Greece, and the Director of the Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering Laboratory at DUTh. He is currently the President (2022 – 2025) of the IGS Greece chapter and has also served as its Vice-President (2019 – 2022), a Council Member (2016 – 2019) and is a founding member of the chapter. His candidacy for IGS Council Member has the strong support of the IGS Greece Council. 

Dr. Markou is an Editorial Board Member and Lead Guest Editor for the Special Issue on “Soil–Geosynthetic Interaction” of the International Journal of Geosynthetics and Ground Engineering (Q1, IF: 2.9). He is a member of the ISSMGE and serves as member of the TC211 of this society. He has also been a member of the organizing and/or scientific committees of a number of International and National Conferences.

Dr. Markou has 35 years of research experience in “Soil/Geosynthetic Interaction” and “Soil Reinforcement with Fibers”. As a result, he has authored/co-authored one book chapter and several scientific papers published in International Journals and Conference Proceedings. Having long-term experience in geosynthetic engineering research and teaching and in IGS Greece activities, Dr. Markou wishes to play a more active role in the IGS, contributing to the achievement of its goals.

Online profile:

Wang Deqi


Mr. Wang Deqi is the inventor of anti-UV weed mat in China, the  Deputy Director of the Innovation Committee of the China Agricultural Plastics Society under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, and a member of the International Association of Geomaterials. Previously, Mr. Wang served as the Workstation Director of the National Industrial Fabric Quality Supervision and Inspection Center. Mr. Wang led his team to successfully upgrade the “anti-aging” geotextile to the professional “anti exposure” stage, especially the weed mat (100-300g woven geotextile), with an exposed service life of up to 10-15 years, the world’s highest level.

Today, I am applying to join the IGS Council in order to participate in academic exchanges, technology promotion, and other related work, together with promoting the development and progress of international geotextiles in the field of environmental protection, and fulfill the mission of IGS.

Ivan P. Damians


Dr. Ivan P. Damians is an Associate Researcher Professor at the International Centre for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE®). He serves as a Geotechnical Engineer responsible for Research and Development (R&D) of the VSoL System at VSL International Ltd, which is part of the Bouygues Construction Group. Additionally, he works as an Assistant Professor at the School of Civil Engineering (ETSECCPB) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya·BarcelonaTech (UPC), teaching courses in Soil Mechanics, Geotechnical Engineering, Geotechnical Projects and Constructions, and Life-Cycle Analysis and Sustainability Assessment for both Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Dr. Damians actively participates in various research projects funded by national and international programs, as well as industry-sponsored initiatives. He is a member of technical committees and professional societies including:

  • CTN-UNE 140/SC 7, developing standards like EN 1997-3 (Eurocode 7) and 104 (Geosynthetics)
  • TC218 Reinforced Fill Structures and TC307 Sustainability in Geotechnical Engineering of the ISSMGE
  • International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) and the Sociedad Española de Mecánica de Suelos e Ingeniería Geotécnica (SEMSIG)
  • Current Secretary of TC-Soil Reinforcement at the IGS.

Dr. Damians is the author of several publications and an active reviewer of international journals in the sectors of soil reinforcement, geosynthetics, sustainability, numerical methods, and behavior of clays as a long-term insulation material for nuclear waste disposal facilities. Moreover, he supervises Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD theses in Geosynthetics at CIMNE/UPC·BarcelonaTech.

Links to online profile & publications:

Jabulile Msiza

(South Africa)

Over the past two years, I’ve had the honour of serving on the IGS Council alongside some brilliant fellow members whom I now regard as colleagues. Although all my activity has been rewarding, the following particularly standout – serving as vice chair of the Technical Committee on Barriers and Representing Africa and the Middle East as their Regional Activity Chair, particularly at a time GeoAfrica (Cairo) was held and the first named lecture series was announced.

I’m a Civil Engineer, Professionally registered, and specializing in Waste Engineering as a Consultant of the company Jones & Wagener Engineering and Environmental Consultants (J&W). I’m the Head of Department of a dynamic team of engineers, technologists and draughts persons servicing waste management facilities across South Africa and other African regions; I’m also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of J&W.

With over 18 years’ working experience, I’m passionate about design for environmental protection, particularly for waste management facilities, construction of barrier and capping systems, and promoting the understanding and appropriate use of geosynthetic materials. It is a humbling industry in that while many advancements have happened in the past few years, there’s still much to learn as installed systems are tested with time and various exposure conditions.

I’m a member of the Associations: South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE), Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) Board Member, the South African Chapter of the IGS and the Institute of Waste Management of South Africa. I have been an elected council member of the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) for the past four years and eager to continue serving in the future.

Jacek Kawalec


I am a chartered geotechnical expert with 30 years of engineering experience, including 22 years of research and teaching at Silesian University of Technology (SUoT) in Poland where I obtained my MSc. in Civil Engineering (1994) and PhD in Geotechnics (2000).

My IGS membership began in 2005 and my involvement in the society since then has been divided between national and international activities. In Poland, as President of the Polish Chapter, I organized an “Educate the Educators” course bringing together participants from three countries (Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia). In addition, I had the honor of serving as Chairman and leader of the Scientific Committee of the very successful IGS event – the regional EUROGEO-7 Conference, held in Warsaw in 2022.

My involvement at the international level includes membership in the IGS Council (as an invited and co-opted member between 2014-2020, and as an elected member from 2020 to present). As Chair of TC-Stabilization, I organized the joint TC-S & TC-H workshop in Prague in 2019. Over the years I have also contributed to various IGS committees, including Educational, Corporate & Publication Committees. Currently, I am focused on a special IGS session at the Railways 2024 Conference.

I would like to declare my continuous commitment to the Society, and if elected, I hope to continue this mission for the next 2024-2028 Council term.

Kasia Ria Zamara

(United Kingdom)

Dr Katarzyna (Kasia) Ria Zamara is a founding member of the IGS Diversity Task Force (DTF). She was instrumental in organising the first DTF event at the Rome ICG 2023 with continued strong contribution to DTF activities. Kasia is also an active member of the IGS Sustainability Committee, and Vice Chair of the IGS UK chapter. She has supported IGS since joining the organisation in 2009.

Kasia is proactive and keen to table new ideas designed to open new lines of thought and encourage innovation. She is successful in her personal career and seeks to inject this same level of energy and influence into the Council.

To find out why I am worth your vote, look me up on LinkedIn.

Maria das Graças A. Gardoni


Dr. Maria das Graças A. Gardoni, is a Professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She earned her PhD from the University of Brasilia with 1 year of research at École Polytechnique de Montréal, Montréal (Canada), and she completed a post-doctoral program at the Joseph Fourier University (UJF), Grenoble, France, and the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for the Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA), Anthony, France, in 2011.

She has more than 30 years of experience in applied and laboratory research in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering and geosynthetics. She has conducted research mainly on filtration and drainage, durability, waterproofing, and geotextile confinement systems in mining, dams. Prof. Gardoni has acted as an expert in tailings dam accidents in Brazil, and in waterproofing systems for dam reservoirs. She teaches geosynthetics in geotechnical and geoenvironmental applications in Civil and Environmental Engineering undergraduate and graduate courses and has supervised several MSc and PhD research projects.

She is a member of the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) Council (2022-2024), the IGS Education Committee and was awarded by IGS in 2004. She is President of IGS Brazil (2023-2025), as well as the coordinator of the Educate the Educators program. In 2019, she received the Inconfidência Commendation, a medal awarded by the state government of Minas Gerais.

Song-Hun Chong


Dear IGS Members,

I am very pleased to apply to be a Council Member nominee on behalf of the Korean Geosynthetics Society (KGSS, IGS Korea Chapter). My short biography is as follows:

Song-Hun Chong, Ph.D. is an associate professor in Civil Engineering at Sunchon National University. He earned his PhD degree from Georgia Tech. My research group addresses the scientific and engineering development of geotextiles, geomembranes, and related products to stabilize geostructures. These research projects have been funded by National funding agencies and industry.

Because of my passion and profession for geosynthetic research, I expect to establish successful collaborations with many researchers in this area. Thank you in advance for your consideration of my application.


Song-Hun Chong, PhD
International Affairs Managing director of KGSS
Associate Professor
Department of Civil Engineering, Sunchon National University

Timothy D. Stark

(United States of America)

Timothy D. Stark (USA) is a Civil Engineering Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Stark has been conducting research on geosynthetics for 30 years ( Dr. Stark is Technical Director of the Flexible Geomembrane Institute, an industry-sponsored research organization at UIUC investigating geosynthetics for containment and other applications (

Dr. Stark is also an Editorial Board Member of the two IGS journals. Dr. Stark has received a number of awards including: 2023 J.E. Jennings Award, South African Institution of Civil Engineering; 2023 Cross USA Lecturer, ASCE; 2019 George H. Norman Medal, ASCE; 2017 Best Paper Award in Performance of Constructed Facilities Journal (ASCE); 2016 Best Paper in Geosynthetics International Journal, IGS; 2013 & 1998 Thomas A. Middlebrooks Award, ASCE, and others.

After serving as vice-president of IGS-North America, Dr. Stark was elected to IGS Council in 2020. He was then elected Chair of the IGS Pan American Committee Chair and helped reinvigorate this Committee. He is now serving as Chair of the IGS Education Committee, which is developing a certification program for geosynthetic engineers, chairing a subcommittee that is re-evaluating the EtE Program, and serving on the IGS Committee developing a Geosynthetics Handbook.