The Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA), led by a Koerner awardee selection task force, chose Barry R. Christopher, Ph.D., P.E., as the recipient of the 2018 Robert M. Koerner Award and Lecture Series. The award and lecture series is named for Robert M. Koerner, Ph.D., the founder and director emeritus of the Geosynthetic Institute and professor emeritus in civil engineering at Drexel University.
“I was very thrilled,” Dr. Christopher said when asked how he felt about receiving the award and lecture series. “It’s a special honor considering the namesake of this award. Dr. Koerner is a good colleague and friend, who I also value as a peer and mentor. It is also rewarding to have GMA recognize my body of work in geosynthetics over the past four decades.”
The award and lecture series, created in 2016, honors an individual who has had a measurable impact on the geosynthetics industry; who has a background in education, design or testing of geotextiles, geomembranes, geogrids, geonets, geosynthetic clay liners or erosion control materials; and who works with or for geosynthetic manufacturers in North America.
Former executive council chair Keith Gardner established the task force, which he served on along with John Henderson (TenCate), Fred Chuck (HUESKER), Joel Sprague (TRI Environmental) and Mark Wayne (Tensar), to review nominations and make the selection.
Dr. Christopher is a geotechnical engineering consultant with Christopher Consultants in Roswell, Ga. He specializes in reinforced soil and other ground improvement technologies and geosynthetics application and design, as well as geotechnical/geosynthetics testing and instrumentation. He has authored numerous technical papers on these subjects, including 10 design manuals for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); a textbook on geosynthetic engineering; three National Cooperative Highway Research Program syntheses; and several book chapters.
Dr. Christopher is also a National Highway Institute certified instructor and a former president of the North American Geosynthetics Society (now IGS North America), IGS council member, chair of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Committee D35 on Geosynthetics, and chair of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Geosynthetics. He remains active in those organizations as well as in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and ASCE’s Geo-Institute.
“My proudest accomplishments are advancements in the use of geosynthetics,” Dr. Christopher said. “I’ve performed research on geosynthetics in roads, filtration, erosion control, reinforced soil, and waste containment and developed design guidelines for all of those applications. My most significant accomplishment is in the development of geosynthetics design guidelines for the Federal Highway Administration (along with my coauthors Dr. Robert Holtz and Ryan Berg) and then being able to maintain those documents for more than 30 years.”
He added, “Teaching and training those materials to thousands of engineers [has also been rewarding]. That to me feels like a very big accomplishment in [the geosynthetics world].”
Dr. Christopher will deliver the first lecture in the series on Feb. 13, 2019, entitled “Lessons Learned: An Adventure in 4 Decades of Geosynthetics Engineering,” during the Geosynthetics Conference 2019 in Houston, Texas, which runs Feb. 10–13.
“GMA is very pleased that Dr. Barry Christopher has accepted the honor of being the second Robert M. Koerner Award winner and lecturer,” said Jonathan Curry, managing director of GMA. “Dr. Christopher has a wealth of experience in the geosynthetics industry and a strong background working with manufacturers in North America. GMA is looking forward to Dr. Christopher’s keynote lecture at its Geosynthetics Conference 2019 in Houston and additional conferences over the next two years.”
The first Robert M. Koerner Award and Lecture Series honored George R. Koerner, Ph.D., director of the Geosynthetic Institute. George Koerner delivered the inaugural lecture in 2017 at the Geotechnical Frontiers Conference in Orlando, Fla.