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Get To Know Your Newly Elected IGS Council Members!

The incoming IGS Council Members will be Dr. Laura Carbone (Germany), Francesco Fontana (Italy), Dr. Jacek Kawalec (Poland), Dr. Yoshihisa Miyata (Japan), Jabulile Msiza (South Africa), Dr. Timothy Stark (USA), and Helmut Zanzinger (Germany). Thank you to all of the candidates for participating in this year’s election and their ongoing commitment to the IGS. The newly elected council members will stand for the term which concludes in 2024.

From Left-Right: Dr. Laura Carbone (Germany), Francesco Fontana (Italy), Dr. Jacek Kawalec (Poland), Dr. Yoshihisa Miyata (Japan), Jabulile Msiza (South Africa), Dr. Timothy Stark (USA), and Helmut Zanzinger (Germany).


Dr. Laura Carbone

Dr. Laura Carbone is environmental engineer with over 9 year experience in the field of geosynthetics.

She graduated with honors as environmental engineer at the Mediterranea University of Reggio Calabria in Italy in 2010 and three years later she achieved a doctoral degree in geotechnical engineering through a joint supervision thesis between the University of Grenoble Alpes in France and the University of Reggio Calabria in Italy. In her research, she studied the interaction behavior of geosynthetic – geosynthetic interfaces on slopes under static and seismic loading conditions. She’s authored more than 30 scientific papers for peer journals, national and international conferences and holds two awards including the IGS Student Award 2012. Since 2015, she’s worked as a senior engineer at HUESKER Synthetic in Germany. She leads project designs in environmental engineering with a special interest for landfill designs, slope stability and the remediation of contaminated sites.

She’s actively served on the IGS for 8 years. She co-founded the IGS Young Members Committee in 2012, initially as Co-Chair and from 2017 as its current Chair. As Chair she contributed to formalize the organizational structure and succession plan, led the committee to increase membership and enhance involvement with IGS committees and local chapters. To increase awareness of the IGS and its next generation, she facilitated young member technical and networking sessions in liaison with other geotechnical associations. She organized the IGS Young Members Forum at 11ICG in Seoul and is co-organizing the Young Members Programs at GeoAmericas 2020 and Eurogeo 7. Along with Lucia Davila, she is running the IGS Student Award program 2018-2021.

From 2016 she’s been an invited member of the IGS Council and an active member of the Education Committee. She further supports IGS activities locally being also an invited member of the AGI-IGS Council and a member of the organizing committee of the IAGIG (Conference of Italian Young Geotechnical Engineers) as part of the Italian Geotechnical Society (AGI). She is member of the German Geotechnical Society (DGGT) and the German Section on Geosynthetics.

“I believe that the geosynthetic solutions play a fundamental role to solve today’s global environmental challenges in a sustainable way. Strengthened by my experience in the last four years as an invited member of the council, I am running for the post of council member to continue promoting the goals of the IGS, in particular facilitating greater involvement of the next generation of geosynthetics professionals.”


Francesco Fontana

Francesco Fontana, 59 years old, is the Managing Director of Manifattura Fontana SpA, one of the eldest manufacturers of needle-punched geotextiles in Europe. With a juridical background, he has been active on the geosynthetics market since 1985 and has introduced many innovations for the applications of geotextiles and geocomposites.

He has taken part in the standardization activities in UNI, CEN and ISO since nearly 25 years; he is currently leading the Italian delegation in the technical committee CEN TC/189. Within this organism he has been appointed to coordinate the working group for the revision of the market rules in Europe for geosynthetics.

He is on the boards of AssINGeo, the Italian Association of Geosynthetics Entrepreneurs, for more than 10 years, and of EAGM, the European Association of Geosynthetics Manufacturers, for 6 years. In his current term on the IGS Council, he has been active in the Corporate Members Committee, and task force group for the hiring of an Executive Director.

Francesco has attended all the meetings of the current IGS Council, and also serves on the board of AGI-IGS, the Italian IGS Chapter. He is also engaged in the organizing committee of ICG Rome 2022.


Dr. Jacek Kawalec

Dr. Jacek Kawalec is chartered geotechnical expert with 26 years of engineering experience including 22 years of research & teaching position firstly as Assistant (1994-2000) and as Professor Assistant (2000-2016) at Geotechnical Department of Silesian University of Technology (SUoT) in Poland. He obtained both MSc. in Civil Engineering (1994) and PhD in Geotechnics (2000) at SUoT.

Jacek is a member of IGS since 2005 and his activity over these years includes membership in council in terms 2014-2018, 2018-2020, Presidency position of Polish Chapter of IGS which resulted in organization of the  Educate the Educator” course in Poland, just a second IGS ETE event globally.

His current activity at IGS council is shared between running IGS Technical Committee – Stabilization as Chair of TC and preparation of next Regional EUROGEO-7 Conference to be held in Warsaw in September 2020. Jacek is Chairman of Eurogeo7 and leader of the Scientific Committee. He was leading the organization of successful first TC-Stabilization workshop which took place last October in Prague.

Other industry activities of Jacek are with ISO TC221 “Geosynthetics”, CEN TC 189 “Geosynthetics” where he represents PKN-Poland and with ISSMGE where he is a nominated member of TC 218 “Reinforced fill structures”.

Jacek is an author or co-author of over 100 papers on geotechnics and geosynthetics published journals or presented at conferences, member of Scientific Committees for many conferences, paper reviewer and subject expert.

His current position within industry where he serves as Director of Technology for Eastern Hemisphere for Tensar International allows him fully utilize his research experiences in practice.


Dr. 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 has research interests in a variety of topics relating to soil reinforcement, geo-environment and geo-risk engineering. He has authored or co-authored more than 220 papers in referred journals and conference proceedings and more than 120 technical articles in academic publication. Dr. Miyata is the vice chair of IGS, Japan chapter. He is also a board member of Geosynthetics International, secretary and member of technical committees on soil reinforcement in IGS and ISSMGE. He has contributed to the success of IS-Kyushu series and IGS world and regional conferences as an organizing or scientific committee member. He had been a representative member of Japan for technical standards on geosynthetics during 2004-2015. Dr. Miyata has received many awards and accolades, including the best paper award of ICE Geotechnical Engineering (2017), Geosynthetic International (2015), Soils and Foundations (2013), Canadian Geotechnical Journal (2008), and Geosynthetics Engineering Journal (2008), along with the Japanese Geotechnical Society (JGS) Service Award (2018), JGS Achievement Award (2016) and IGS Gold Medal (2010).


Jabulile Msiza

Jabulile Msiza has near 15 years’ experience working with geosynthetics at Jones & Wagener Engineering and Environmental Consultants in South Africa. During her tenure, she has steadily become the leader of the Waste Department, while enhancing her skills as an engineer and leader through post-graduate study. She leads a young dynamic team of engineers, through which her passion for geosynthetics is imparted.

Hazardous waste facilities are one of the most complicated applications of geosynthetics; Jabulile has been involved with the design of barrier and capping systems of many of these facilities. This has provided her with a base of practical knowledge in the application of geosynthetics in landfill design.

By doing a Master of Business Administration Degree shortly after completing two honours degrees in geotechnical and environmental engineering, Jabulile has poised her theoretical training for ideal delivery of engineering design in the consulting environment. This balance of practical experience and theoretic training allows for well-rounded decision making and service delivery.

Jabulile started contributing to company human resources from early in her career, showing a natural ability to deal with people in the consulting industry. In 2013, with her appointment as an Associate of the company, she became the J&W Bursary Fund manager. Her HR Portfolio role became formalised in 2016 with her appointment as a Technical Director and thus member of the Management Committee. This passion for growth of junior engineering professionals was mirrored in her contribution to the IGS when she joined the local chapter committee (GIGSA) in 2009 and immediately started arranging lectures at Universities to spread her knowledge of geosynthetics to young graduates.

Due to her will to drive and grow the use of geosynthetics in South Africa, Jabulile was elected by GIGSA to deliver the presentation bid for the 12th International Conference of Geosynthetics in 2022. Although the bid was unsuccessful, the potency of Jabulile’s delivery was an indication of her resolve to make an impact in the local industry.

Recognition by her peers of her growth as an engineer and contributions to the industry resulted in early registration as a Professional Engineer, and later in 2017 when she was awarded the prestigious Consulting Engineers South Africa Young Engineer of the year award.

The IGS Council can only benefit from the unique blend of Jabulile’s passion for the growth of geosynthetics and focus of development of young professionals. She will surely be an asset to the society.


Dr. Timothy D. Stark

Dr. Timothy D. Stark is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), USA. Dr. Stark has been conducting research on geosynthetics and in particular geomembranes, geotextiles, and drainage composites for the last twenty-five (25) years. His research on the static and seismic stability of geosynthetic-lined slopes and containment facilities has led to a better understanding of design geosynthetic interface strengths, the shear behavior of geosynthetic/geosynthetic and soil/geosynthetic interfaces, three-dimensional slope stability analyses for geosynthetic-lined slopes, the importance of interim slope conditions in containment operations, and geosynthetic durability. In the last ten (10) years he has been studying the effects of elevated temperatures in various types of containment facilities and the long-term durability of geosynthetics with and without UV exposure. Dr. Stark has received a number of awards for his research, teaching, and service activities including the: 2019 George H. Norman Medal from ASCE, Best Paper Award in the Performance of Constructed Facilities Journal, ASCE, 2017, Best Paper in Geosynthetics International Journal, 2016, 2015 James M. Hoover Lecture at Iowa State University, Thomas A. Middlebrooks Award, ASCE, 2013 and 1998, and three D18 Standards Development Awards, ASTM, 2014, 2011, 2002.

Dr. Stark is Technical Director of the Fabricated Geomembrane Institute (FGI), which is an industry-sponsored research organization based at the UIUC investigating factory fabricated geomembranes and geosynthetics for containment and other applications. The FGI has 42 members, which includes manufacturers, installers, consultants, regulators, equipment suppliers, and testing entities. Dr. Stark has taught numerous short courses, webinars, technical presentations, Educate the Educator (EtE) programs, and workshops on the use of geosynthetics in a variety of applications.

After serving as vice-president of IGS-North America, Dr. Stark is looking forward to expanding his involvement with the IGS and contributing to the global growth of geosynthetics. He is particularly interested in furthering the educational mission of the IGS by helping establish educational programs that will serve different segments and geographical areas of the geosynthetics industry. In particular, Dr. Stark plans to provide platforms, e.g., webinars, training videos, podcasts, workshops, and short courses, for: (1) academicians and practitioners to participate in IGS educational programs and (2) development, design, testing, installation, and long-term performance of geosynthetics in a variety of applications and countries. To achieve this goal he is eager to use his experience, contacts, engineering background, and experience to develop these educational platforms for the IGS.


Helmut Zanzinger

Helmut Zanzinger got his Dipl.-Ing. degree in geotechnical engineering from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany in 1988. Then he worked as a researcher and consultant at LGA Geotechnical Institute for 14 years until he moved to SKZ – German Plastics Center, an independent testing and research company in Germany. He is currently the head of the ISO/IEC 17020 accredited inspection body of SKZ.

He has been active in the field of geoenvironmental and geosynthetics testing for more than 30 years with specialization in laboratory testing operations. His activities over the years include development of new testing procedures and methods, CQA on landfill lining systems and CE auditing worldwide.

His extensive research activities concentrated in the large-scale loading of drainage pipes, long-term internal shear strength of GCLs, cyclic loading of geogrids, strain hardening on PE-HD geomembranes, high-pressure autoclave testing on geosynthetics, testing and long-term monitoring of surface erosion control products. He published more than 150 technical papers and held more than 100 lectures.

He serves as an expert in several committees like “Geosynthetics in Geotechnics and Hydraulic Engineering” (DGGT), “Geosynthetics in Landfills” (BAM), “Geomembranes for Storage Lagoons, Secondary Containment and other Containment Applications” (DIBt) and “Geosynthetics for Surface Erosion Control” (FGSV).

He has dedicated much of his career to the standardization work – serving as an active member of DIN, CEN and ISO committees on geosynthetics for 25 years and also as convenor of CEN/TC189 on terminology, chairman of CEN/TC189 project groups on surface erosion control and on bituminous geosynthetic barriers. For six years, he has chaired the Group of Notified Bodies for the CE-certification of geosynthetics. He has received several awards including the “Beuth-Denkmünze” from DIN in 2019, a DIN medal for outstanding achievements.

He is an IGS member for more than 25 years. Currently serves on the board of SVG, the Swiss IGS Chapter.

Between 1994 and 2010 he has chaired three successful International conferences on “Geosynthetic Clay Liners” to promote the use of GCLs. He has organized a series of seven International “Geosynthetics Middle East (GeoME)” conferences in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Mr. Zanzinger would like to contribute to the more intensive and competent applications of geosynthetics as durable and long lasting products which are doing great in the sense of sustainability. He sees a strong need to convey required information to the users who are skeptical on the usage of plastic materials these days.