Skip to content

The Giroud Lecture – 30 Years And Counting

Dr. J.P. Giroud, Former IGS President and Emponym of the Giroud Lecture

Geosynthetics pioneer J.P. Giroud was coming to the end of his opening address at the 5th International Conference on Geosynthetics (ICG) in 1994 when he was presented with an unexpected honor.

The IGS decided to establish a prestigious new lecture – created to recognize exceptional achievement and influence in the field of geosynthetics – in his name.

Nearly 30 years later the IGS Giroud Lecture speaker series is still going strong with an alumni that reads like a who’s who of the industry. Nominations are open until September 11th for the next Giroud Lecturer.

Dr. Giroud explained what the history and legacy of the lecture series meant to him.

“Ever since I have been involved with geosynthetics from 50 years ago, I have advocated technical excellence and cooperation between members of the discipline, hence the formation of the IGS in 1983,” he said.

“I was totally surprised when I learned, at the end of my opening address at the 5th International Conference on Geosynthetics in Singapore, that the IGS Council had decided to establish the Giroud Lecture. This award should be understood not as a glorification of one person, but rather as an incentive to practice technical excellence and cooperation.”

First presented in 1988, the lecture is delivered every four years during the International Conference on Geosynthetics’ opening. It will next be heard at the 12thICG in Rome in September 2022.

Did Dr. Giroud think the series would last this long?

“First, the fact that the IGS is 37 years old, and stronger than ever, is impressive. The ‘durability’ (as we say in the geosynthetics discipline) of the Giroud Lecture is linked to the success of the IGS. Therefore, we can hope that both the IGS and the Giroud Lecture will last.”

Dr. Giroud explained the series was an important tradition for the IGS and the geosynthetics discipline as a whole, as the main event of the Conference’s opening session.

“Traditions get stronger if they last longer. More International Conferences on Geosynthetics and more Giroud Lectures will contribute to the strengthening of the IGS and the geosynthetics discipline,” he said.

Previous lectures have been given by Prof. Robert Koerner (1998), Prof. Kerry Rowe (2002), Chris Lawson (2006), Prof. Heinz Brandl (2010) and Prof. Richard Bathurst (2014). IGS Vice President Dr. Nathalie Touze was the most recent lecturer in 2018.

Dr. Nathalie Touze being recognized at the 11ICG as the 6th Giroud Lecturer

“I must say that I have been impressed by the quality of the six Giroud Lectures presented so far. Four of them (by Robert Koerner, Kerry Rowe, Chris Lawson and Richard Bathurst) were state-of-the-art lectures on important aspects of geosynthetics engineering. The Giroud Lecture by Heinz Brandl provided an outstanding demonstration of the use of geosynthetics in large projects. The last Giroud Lecture by Nathalie Touze was different from the preceding ones, as it was not restricted to technical matters, but also included cultural and philosophical considerations. These six lectures have set a high standard for the next Giroud Lecture speaker.”

And on that note, why should people take part, both in nominating and accepting the honor?

“All professionals involved in geosynthetics are lucky to belong to a well-organized discipline with excellent cooperation between colleagues working in more than 100 countries. Thanks to this favorable environment, many members of the IGS enthusiastically participate in the activities of the society,” he said.

“The Giroud Lecture is a major event in the life of the IGS and we expect the nomination process will generate a number of potential Giroud Lecture speakers. The selected speaker has always accepted the invitation. Indeed, it is a great honor to present the opening lecture of the International Conference on Geosynthetics.”

He added: “For the first six Giroud Lectures, three speakers were from North America and three from Europe. For the seventh Giroud Lecture, it may be a good idea to select a speaker from another part of the world, for example South America, Asia or Africa.

“The next Giroud Lecture speaker will certainly be invited to repeat the lecture in different parts of the world, which is a good advertisement for the IGS. Therefore, it would be advisable to select a speaker who has the proper professional credentials to be a good ambassador of the IGS.”

Sharing your ideas on a global platform can be a daunting prospect. But J.P. Giroud has some words of wisdom on how to make an impact.

“There are many applications of geosynthetics, therefore, it would be appropriate that the subject of the next Giroud Lecture be related to applications of geosynthetics that have not been addressed in preceding Giroud Lectures, and consistent with the conference title ‘Geosynthetics, Leading the Way to a Resilient Planet’,” he said.

Could someone you know be the next Giroud Lecture speaker? To nominate, send details by September 11 to IGS Secretariat Manager Terry Ann Paulo at Nominees do not have to be IGS members. For the full nomination and submission rules, click here.

Watch the current Giroud Lecture by Nathalie Touze here.

For more about the 12th ICG, visit



Free access to Giroud Lectures is now provided by ICE Publishing, the publishers of Geosynthetics International, an official journal of the IGS.