Dr. Jie Han is the Glenn L. Parker Professor of Geotechnical Engineering in the Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Department at the University of Kansas. He received his Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the USA in 1997. He has gained extensive teaching, research, and consulting experiences in geosynthetics, ground improvement, pile foundations, buried structures, and roadways. Prof. Han is the sole author of the book entitled “Principles and Practice of Ground Improvement” and has published more than 400 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers. Prof. Han is the current chair of the ASCE Geo-Institute Soil Improvement Committee and the TRB Transportation Earthworks Committee, and a council member of the International Geosynthetics Society. He serves as an associate editor for the ASCE Journal of Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Engineering and the ASCE Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, a handling editor for Transportation Research Record, and an editorial board member for several other international journals including Geosynthetics International Journal. Prof. Han is an instructor for the National Highway Institute in the USA and has been invited to give more than 200 keynote/invited lectures and short courses around the world, including the State of the Practice Lecture at the 21st Annual George F. Sowers Symposium and the 18th UK IGS Lecture both in 2018. He has received numerous awards from the profession including but not limited to two US Transportation Research Board Best Paper Awards in 2008 and 2017, the 2011 Shamsher Prakash Prize for Excellence in Practice of Geotechnical Engineering, the 2014 the International Geosynthetics Society Award, the 2017 ASCE Martin S. Kapp Foundation Engineering Award, and the 2018 ASCE Kansas City Section Engineer of Year Award. Prof. Han was elected to the ASCE Fellow in 2014.
Kathryn Grant is the Marketing Manager for Propex GeoSolutions. In her role, she drives corporate branding, develops digital and print collateral, and overseas marketing and communications for geotextile and erosion control products and solutions. She holds a Bachelors of Journalism from the University of TN, Knoxville, and an Executive Masters of Business from the University of TN, Chattanooga.
Mr. Simac holds BS and MS degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Missouri - Rolla. His 38-year professional career has focused on geotechnical engineering applied to various civil engineering structures from a variety of perspectives, as; designer, consultant, contractor, and material supplier.
Over the past thirty years, he has concentrated his practice on geotechnical and geosynthetic engineering while specializing in geosynthetic reinforcement design. Mr. Simac was involved in developing the technical literature and design methods for the following geogrids; Tensar (’83-’85), Miragrid (’87-’90), Stratagrid (’91-’94), and Synteen (’97-’01). He operated a geosynthetic testing laboratory (’94-’02) to develop design-related properties for earth reinforcement.
He is currently President and Principal Engineer for Earth Improvement Technologies, a consulting engineering company he founded in 1990. A registered Professional Engineer in 17 states, Mr. Simac has designed hundreds of reinforced soil structures, participated in research projects on their behavior, and investigated many reinforced soil structures with significant distress.
Mr. Simac has written 43 technical articles on the subject of Geosynthetic Reinforcement, including; being the principal author of the "Design Manual for Segmental Retaining Walls" published by NCMA in 1993, and co-author of the keynote lecture on “Geosynthetic Reinforced SRWs in North America” at the 5th International Conference on Geosynthetics held in Singapore. Mike also was part of the technical review team for the FHWA Demo 82 project “Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls & Reinforced Soil Slopes: Design & Construction Guidelines” the reference document for the AASHTO design requirements for reinforced soil structures. Mr. Simac has assisted in the development of several software programs that assist the design of reinforced soil structures. Mr. Simac is also a guest lecturer and instructor in several continuing education programs sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Auburn University and is a member of the Academy of Civil Engineers at his alma mater, Missouri University of Science & Technology.
Technical Program Co-Chair
United States Airforce Academy
Dr. Beauregard is an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her technical focus is geotechnical engineering and her research interests include geosynthetic reinforced soil, remote sensing of pavement conditions, laboratory testing standards, and topics related to sustainable geotechnical systems.
Technical Program Co-Chair
Federal Highway Administration
Jennifer Nicks is a research geotechnical engineer with the Federal Highway Administration, working at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center for the past nine years. She manages a research program focused on infrastructure design. Related to geosynthetics, Jennifer co-authored the design and construction guidelines for the Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Integrated Bridge System and is the Chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Geosynthetics committee. Additionally, Jennifer serves on research project panels and technical committees for national and international organizations. She earned her Bachelor of Science, Master of Engineering, and Doctorate degrees in Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University and is a licensed professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA)
Fred Chuck has been in the geosynthetics industry for 39 years, having had responsibilities ranging from product development and technical service to sales and market management to Industry Council lobbying and education (details in CV). Fred served as Past Chair of the GMA Geotextile Focus Group, a member of: IGS-NA; TRB AFS70 - Committee on Geosynthetics; AREMA (Rail Engineering) Committee 1 (Geosynthetics); & IECA. He led the GMA efforts from 2009-2012 to establish the NTPEP GTX audit plan and the AASHTO M288-17 modifications. In December of 2018, Fred assumed the Chairmanship of the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA) Executive Council, ending his term in April 2020 to take on the role of Executive Director of the Geosynthetics Materials Association (GMA).
A Civil Engineering graduate of Purdue University, he is licensed in Indiana, Georgia and North Carolina. Residing in Fort Mill, South Carolina, Fred and his wife, Beth, a realtor, have two children; a son, Davis, working for GE, graduated in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University and a daughter, Natalie, who will graduate from University of South Carolina in May 2020 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.
Robert Lozano is the Senior Geotechnical engineer and geosynthetic specialist for the Reinforced Earth Company in Reston, Virginia. His responsibilities includes peer revision for complex projects, oversight of the geosynthetic reinforcement testing program, principal expert for geosynthetics supporting Terre Armee and Soiltech (R&D branch) for international companies in the group whenever his expertise is required, and active collaboration on the research and development of parts and products for new and existing soil retaining solutions.
Mr. Lozano is a registered professional engineer in Colombia, his experience spans 4 continents, extensive interaction with foreign governmental agencies, mining and geotechnical consultants, the World Bank, and large construction multinationals.
He has been an active lecturer for geosynthetic applications in geotechnical challenging projects, active member of the International Geosynthetic Society (IGS), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), active voting member of the ASTM Committee C09 on Concrete and Concrete Aggregates, Committee D18 on Soil and Rock and Committee D35 on Geosynthetics where is the Subcommittee Chairman for ASTM D35.93 Subcommittee on Terminology., technical expert for the US delegation for ISO TC221, member of International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering and the Colombian Geotechnical Society.
IGS-NA Conference Representative
Oregon State University
Ben Leshchinsky is an associate professor and Richardson Chair in geotechnical engineering at Oregon State University. The primary focus of Ben’s research is on basic and applied geomechanics, soil reinforcement, slope stability, and in recent years, use of remote sensing technologies applied towards assessment of natural hazards. Ben received his BS from the University of Delaware in 2007, and his MS and PhD from Columbia University in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Ben is a registered professional engineer in Oregon, an editorial board member of both the ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Geotextiles and Geomembranes, Landsides, and Geosynthetics International. He is the recipient of the 2020 ASCE Arthur Casagrande Aware, the 2018 International Geosynthetics Society Young Member Achievement Award, the 2016 International Landslide Symposium Young Paper Award, among other awards for research and teaching.
Application Expert: Erosion Control
Melissa Hurley studied Environmental Science at Michigan State University and found her way to a civil engineering firm in SW Michigan after college. Working as an erosion control inspector for local municipalities, she began learning about the products and techniques used to control erosion and manage sediment in construction projects. After relocating to Portland, Oregon to chase outdoor recreational opportunities and craft beer, Melissa landed at ACF West – a regional distributor of geosynthetic products. Nonwithstanding the regular eyerolls from her two teenaged children, Melissa continues to relentlessly pursue opportunities to promote geosynthetics for beneficial use and application in civil construction and erosion control applications.
Lilma Schimmel is a professional engineer with over 17 years of experience in civil and geotechnical engineering.
Currently, Ms. Schimmel is the Engineering Department Head for HUESKER Inc, a manufacturer of geosynthetics. Her roles include providing design and technical support to customers and sales managers, researching and development of existing and new products, supporting market growth, supervising and leading engineers, managing testing for design parameters, coordinating production of customized products with plant manager, coordination of engineering matters and communication with the headquarters. Ms. Schimmel is involved with a myriad of geosynthetic applications like soil reinforcement, dewatering, erosion control, among others. She is deeply interested in the study, development and dissemination of construction techniques that employ the use of geosynthetics.
She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Sao Paulo, Brazil and a Master of Science degree in Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE.
David is a registered professional engineer in Georgia and Tennessee with more than 26 years of experience in product development, marketing and technical sales. He earned a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from Auburn University and a Masters of Arts in Teaching in Mathematics Education from The University of Georgia. David lives in Metro Atlanta, GA with his family.