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TC-Barriers Workshop, Barcelona, Spain – January 2020

In January 2020, the International Geosynthetic Society, Technical Committee on Barriers (TC-B), held a back-to-back workshop with the Technical Committee on Reinforcement (TC-R) at the Barcelona Technical University, Barcelona, Spain.

The TC-B event was titled “GeoBarrier Developments, Advancements, Durability, Performance, and Innovations” and was attended by 84 delegates from 23 countries.  The workshop sought to promote the mission of the IGS which is “to provide an understanding and promote the appropriate use of geosynthetic technology throughout the world”. 

Photo of the TC-R and TC-B joint workshop organizing committee and the IGS president, Chunsik Yoo

The event, organized by Kent von Maubeuge, with the support of Boyd Ramsey and Jonathan Shamrock, was divided into four sessions over two days. Each session was started with 4 to 5 presentations followed by significant time for questions, discussions, and robust debate, enabling participants to share project experience, exchange technical concerns and solutions, and network with colleagues.  The main themes of the events were:

    • Session A: Re-Cap of Munich 2018 Workshop, Geomembrane Puncture Protection, Welding of Geomembranes, Digital Quality Control Systems.
    • Session B: Advancements with Geosynthetic Clay Liners.
    • Session C: Performance and Durability of Geosynthetic Barriers.
    • Session D: Case Histories of Usual and Innovative Barrier Applications.
Delegates attending the TC-B workshop

Session A – Re-Cap of Munich 2018 Workshop, Geomembrane Puncture Protection, Welding of Geomembranes, Digital Quality Control Systems.  Session Chairs: Siamak Paulson (Australia) & Boyd Ramsey (USA).

This session contained the following presentations:

    • Kent von Maubeuge (Germany) – Re-cap of Munch 2018 Workshop
    • Richard Brachman (Canada) – Current Testing on Puncture Protection
    • Thomas Furrer (Switzerland) – Geomembrane Welding Performance – Field Experience and Interpretation
    • Kerry Rowe (Canada) – Testing and Durability of Geomembrane Welding
    • Henco Weidlich (South Africa) – Advances made in Field with QC Testing
    • Siamak Paulson (Australia) – Advances made in Field with QC Testing

The first session in Day 1 contained presentations on factors impacting geomembrane performance and installation and contained presentations by:

  • Richard Brachman presented on protection geotextile testing and how to determine protection efficiency. Testing should be done as a routine part of design. HDPE strain should be limited to 3% total strain, measured by laser, in order to limit possible long-term stress cracking to obtain a >500 years design life.  Testing of geomembrane strain should be done using clay/GCL under the specimen to simulate field conditions as closely as possible.  The best method available to designers at the moment is comparing their particular design parameters to a database of historic tests available from either geotextile manufacturers or testing laboratories.  These tests should list what mass/CBR values of geotextile have been successful at limiting strain to <3% with known gradings of leachate collection aggregate stone at known applied pressure.  There is unfortunately no reliable theoretic tool to assist designers to determine what geotextile to use.  A sand protection layer could also be used which would significantly limit stains in the geomembrane, but this comes with a risk of damage to the geomembrane during installation.
  • Thomas Furrer presented on how different welding parameters impact weld and HDPE material performance. Welding needs to be undertaken at the optimum point to combine weld speed, weld temperature, and weld pressure. It was demonstrated how modern welding equipment can record the GPS location of the weld as it is performed as well as real-time weld parameter recording which can be incorporated into CQA reports.
  • Kerry Rowe presented on the impact of welding on geomembrane durability. This is significant as there can be 1500 m of weld for every hectare of geomembrane installed.  Weld speed, pressure, and temperature are key to the impact of the welding on the Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) next to dual-track fusion welds.  Weld settings determine the amount of squeeze out, which impacts HDPE durability in this zone as evidenced by failure during field testing, in peel specifically, and in a reduction in the STD-OIT of the geomembrane in the HAZ due to thermal effects. The research is providing new insights into optimum weld speed and wedge temperatures for sheet temperatures ranging from +60°C to +30°C.  It was also recommended that thickness change of dual-track weld area should be checked, as is included in the German standard DVS 2225(1996). “Joining of Lining Membranes Made of Polymer Materials (Geomembranes) in Geotechnical and Hydraulic Applications – Welding, Adhesive Bonding and Vulcanisation.” DVS 2225, DVS-Verlag GmbH Düsseldorf.
STD-OIT depletion across a dual-track weld (Rowe)
  • Henco Weidlich presented on advances in HDPE geomembrane quantity control. He emphasised that installed geomembrane should be QA signed off every day to close out the risk to the installer and client.  In general, data from field handwritten forms is not easy to read and understand, and can often contain transcription errors.  Collaboration is required by earthworks contractor, lining installer, engineer, and client to optimise installation.  Online cloud-based platforms are now making this possible and are available in the marketplace.
Question and answer session after the Session A presentations

Session B: Advancements with Geosynthetic Clay Liners Session Chairs: Craig Benson (USA) & Gemmina Di Emidio (Belgium)

This session contained the following presentations:

    • Wolfgang Lieske (Germany) – Polymer modified Bentonites and their Concept
    • Gemmina di Emidio (Belgium) – Unsaturated polymerised clays and the reuse of waste materials
    • Kuo Tian (USA) – Advancements on polymer-modified Bentonites in GCLs
    • Tarek Abichou (USA) – Assessment of Long-Term Performance of Linear Polymer-Modified Bentonite (LPMB) GCLs
    • Craig Benson (USA) – Bentonite-Polymer Composite GCLs: Where they Work and Where they Don’t
    • Kerry Rowe (Canada) – Testing on polymer-coated GCLs

The second session on Day 1 contained presentations on Geosynthetic Clay Liners (GCL) and specifically polymer enhanced GCL now available from manufacturers.  In summary, there is good evidence for durability of polymers used in enhanced bentonite GCL’s, as long as they are wet mixed, however, it seems all polymers eventually elute (leave) the matrix.  This could impact interface shear as eluted products can be a sticky gel with very low shear strength.  Polymer elution can also impact the long-term permeability of the bentonite.  The benefit of the polymer to the bentonite seems to be in the way the polymer assists the bentonite to hydrate by absorbing the initial cation load, or that it blocks the pores in the bentonite structure, or both.

Craig Benson highlighted that in general MSW leachates are in the sweet spot for bentonite hydration when examined on a plot of relative abundance of monovalent and divalent cations versus ion concentration, so are generally safe to use unmodified.  He does, however, recommend that a 1-day swell index test with leachate be undertaken, and if swell is under 16 then the designer should consider running long-term permeability tests. This, however, takes time; 10 to 20 pore volumes to stabilise, so at least 6 months should be allowed.  There is also good evidence now showing that powdered bentonites perform better than granular in terms of bentonite erosion, and they are also better for undertaking polymer modification as it lends itself to better mixing. It is also important to consider how you will do CQA on polymer-modified bentonites, how will you check product that was lab-tested is the same as what arrives on-site?

There was significant discussion and debate around the use and application of these products that were carried over into the conference dinner that was held at the end of the first evening at the Restaurant Alba Granados.  Little did we realise at the time what a privilege it was to be able to have a dinner and conversation with delegates from all over the world and the impact the unprecedented year, that was to follow our return from the workshop, would have on the world.

Conference dinner, great opportunity to catch up and talk geosynthetics

Session C: Performance and Durability of Geosynthetic Barriers. Session Chairs: Kerry Rowe (Canada) & Malek Bouazza (Australia)

This session contained the following presentations:

    • Boyd Ramsey (USA) – Barrier Systems for Sealing against PFAs
    • Malek Bouazza (Australia) – Thirty years ago, scientists warned about PFAS, and hey, they were right
    • Richard Brachman – Effect of hydration on GCL permeability
    • Kerry Rowe (Canada) – HDPE geomembrane Oven aging and OIT; assessing the effects of leachate chemistry
    • Graham Fairhead (Australia) – Durability Testing – Improving reproducibility and predictive test accuracy

The first session of Day 2 contained presentations on emerging topics such as PFAS, and HDPE geomembrane durability.

  • Boyd Ramsey and Malek Bouazza discussed the history and latest testing being conducted on PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and barriers. From evidence available at the time of the workshop, it is considered acceptable to use HDPE as a barrier to PFAS containing waste.
  • Richard Brachman highlighted how a GCL competes with soil for moisture, so the higher the clay content of the GCL substrate, the higher the suction it generates, and therefore the less hydration water is available to the GCL.
  • Kerry Rowe highlighted that simply specifying GR GM13 for an HDPE geomembrane to be used in a waste disposal facility is not enough to get confidence in the durability of installed geomembrane. The initial index properties of the geomembrane do not predict long term performance. His suggestion is to incubate liner samples in synthetic leachate and then test to obtain the rate of STD-OIT depletion.  This will allow the designer to accurately determine Stage 1 of antioxidant decay and to better predict geomembrane durability.
  • Graham Fairhead presented on the increasingly complex materials acceptance testing requirements in Australia, specifically the 90-day oven aging durability testing and how the increased testing is exposing product and test variability. He concluded that a designer should specify multiple tests be undertaken, and that samples should be extracted at say 60 days to make predictions. This way the project does not have to wait 90 days to find out a material does not pass and have to start the process all over again.

Session D: Case Histories of Usual and Innovative Barrier Applications. Session Chairs: Pete Atchison (UK) & Jonathan Shamrock (New Zealand)

 This session contained the following presentations:

    • Siamak Paulson (Australia) – Integrated Capping System for a Chromium Contaminated Site
    • Jonathan Shamrock (New Zealand) – Barriers in steep wall applications
    • Kerry Rowe (Canada)– Requirements for high performance geomembranes
    • Amir Shahkolahi (Australia) – Risk Based Design Approach for Designing Landfill Lining Systems
    • Pete Atchison (UK) – Gas resistant Membranes – where Civil Engineering meets Construction

The final session on Day 2 contained presentations on case histories and usual and innovative barrier applications and contained presentations by:

  • Siamak Paulson presented on an integrated containment system for chemical contamination in soil, groundwater and ground-gas. The presentation was a case study of the application of barriers to contain historic hexavalent chrome and volatile chlorinated hydrocarbon contamination.  The application of various barrier (geomembrane and coated GCL) and capillary break designs depending on final end use of the specific area of the site was discussed.
  • Jonathan Shamrock presented on barriers in steep wall landfill applications. The presentation included design considerations for steep wall lining systems, specifically how to minimise induced stress in the barrier due to waste settlement in the landfill, and included case studies of installed systems showing various examples of subgrade preparation and types of barriers used.
  • Dr Kerry Rowe presented on selecting high-performance geomembranes.  The presentation summarised research being undertaken to select a suitable geomembrane for low-level radioactive wastes to have a service life > 550 years.  All geomembranes tested were compliant with current GRI GM13 specifications, but immersion in elevated temperature synthetic leachate revealed that different geomembranes, with varying additives, had very different rates of antioxidant depletion and thus duration of Stage 1 of service life estimation.  Based on the testing it is evident that different geomembranes will have significantly better long-term durability than others. He noted that an approach to addressing this issue was to be, but now has been published in the Canadian Geotechnical Journal paper available for free download from:
STD-OIT depletion rates of GRI GM13 compliant HDPE material (Rowe)
  • Amir Shahkolahi presented on risk-based design approaches for designing landfill lining systems. The presentation summarised the risk-based design approach adopted in Queensland Australia and highlighted the most recent research on the impact of design and construction on long term barrier performance. These risks include effect of GCL subgrade on GCL hydration and performance; effect of temperature on service life of the geomembrane liner, hydration of the GCL, desiccation of the GCL (in composite liners), rate of contaminant diffusion, geomembrane deformation, aging and protection efficiency of the cushion geotextile, and clogging of the leachate collection system; and GCL bentonite erosion including internal erosion due to direct contact with gravel or geonet composite drain, and downslope bentonite erosion.
  • Peter Atchison presented on gas resistant membranes – where civil engineering meets construction. The presentation summarised the development of multifoil gas barriers on contaminated site developments since the 1980s and the various products and systems that have been developed.  It also highlighted the importance of detailing and on-site quality control and for the designers of barrier systems to work with the structural engineers to get a compatible solution.
Gas barrier system installed under a building (Atchison)

All who participated in the workshop found the format of 4 to 5 presentations, and then ample time for questions/discussions, very useful to gain a deeper understanding of the barrier details being discussed.  There were already discussions towards the end of Day 2 as to where and when the next event will be held.  Unfortunately, not long after the event, the world was plunged into a new reality of having to live with a global pandemic.  The TC-B is committed to running future workshop sessions, but in-person events may be a while off yet.  In the interim, we are considering shorter, focused online sessions so that information can continue to be shared while we are waiting for the world to return to a new normal.


Workshop report by:

Jonathan Shamrock, compiled from summaries and inputs from the session chairs.

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.