The Geosynthetics Virtual Conference features two Keynote lectures open to all attendees on Tuesday, February 23.
Kick-off the conference with an inspirational lecture from Mount Everest Avalanche survivor Jim Davidson. In the afternoon Jie Han will present the Koerner Award Lecture, a cornerstone of the Geosynthetics Conference.


Tuesday, February 23 | 8 – 9 am CST
Welcome Keynote: Facing Everest Sized Uncertainties
Jim Davidson
Jim’s first attempt to climb Mount Everest ended suddenly when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. This spawned massive avalanches and aftershocks that trapped Jim’s team high on the mountain. It became the deadliest day ever on Mount Everest. Jim returned in 2017 to try again. Along the way, his team had to endure eleven stormy days pinned in their tents, uncertain if they were going to be able to summit. Finally, conditions cleared and after persevering through the uncertainty, Jim and his team reached their goal.

From these intense experiences, Jim shares critical lessons for facing today’s uncertain times. He will share practical tips about:

• Building a resilient mindset for facing change, challenge & uncertainty
• Attitudes and actions to take before, during, and after big storms
• When to rely on passive perseverance vs. active perseverance


Tuesday, February 23 | 11 am – 12:30 pm CST
Koerner Award Lecture: Geosynthetic-reinforced column-supported embankments: Bridging theory and practice
Jie Han, PhD, The University of Kansas
Geosynthetics have been successfully used to improve the performance of column-supported embankments over soft soils. Geosynthetic-reinforced column-supported embankments involve complex load transfer mechanisms, including soil arching, tensioned membrane, stress concentration, lateral restraint, and anchorage. Different theoretical models are available to describe soil arching but often result in different predicted stresses. Due to three-dimensional layout of columns, tension distribution in geosynthetic reinforcement is spatial. Column-soil stiffness difference induces soil arching and contributes to stress concentration and down-drag forces on columns. Side slopes of embankments promote lateral spreading and global instability that can be stabilized by lateral restraint and anchorage of geosynthetics. Localized surface loading further affects load transfer among soils, columns, and geosynthetics. This lecture will illustrate how theoretical solutions can be used to explain existing phenomena and solve practical problems in geosynthetic-reinforced column-supported embankments including required tensile strength of geosynthetic reinforcement, settlement, and global stability.