Prof. Dr. Robert M. Koerner

Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering at Drexel University

Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering at Drexel University
Director Emeritus of GSI


Dr. Robert M. Koerner’s interest in geosynthetics spans thirty-five years of teaching, research, writing and consulting. He holds his Ph.D. in Geotechnical Engineering from Duke University. He is a registered Professional Engineer, a Distinguished Member of ASCE, a Geotechnical Engineering Diplomate, and an Honorary Member of the International Geosynthetics Society and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. Dr. Koerner has authored and co-authored over 750 papers on Geosynthetics and geotechnical topics in journals and at national and international conferences. His most widely used publication is his book entitled “Designing with Geosynthetics” now in its sixth edition. Dr. Koerner is presently Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering at Drexel University and Emeritus Director of the Geosynthetic Institute. Dr. Koerner is currently fully involved in distance learning via live presentations of Geosynthetic courses and webinars over the Internet.

Supported by the Geosynthetic Institute:

The Geosynthetic Institute (GSI) was founded in 1986 as a consortium of organizations interested in, and involved with, geosynthetics. All types of polymeric geosynthetic materials are involved: geotextiles, geomembranes, geogrids, geonets, geospacers, geocomposites, geosynthetic clay liners, geopipe, geocells, and geofoam. The organizations include federal and state governmental agencies, facility owners, designers, consultants, QC and QA organizations, testing laboratories, resin and additive suppliers, manufacturers, manufacturer’s representatives and installation contractors. GSI currently consists of 71 member organizations of which ca. 65% are international. GSI’s Mission is to develop and transfer knowledge, assess and critique geosynthetics, and provide services to the member organizations.

Chaido Doulala-Rigby (Yuli)

Yuli is a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (FICE) with 24+ years’ experience in a variety of geotechnical and civil engineering projects. She obtained her first degree in Civil Infrastructure Engineering in Greece and her Master of Science (MSc) in Rock Mechanics and Foundation Engineering from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Her work experience includes working as a tunnelling engineer for Balfour Beatty at the Jubilee Line Extension Tunnelling project in London (1995), as a geotechnical engineer for Mouchel Asia Limited in Hong Kong (1996-2005) and as the Chief Civil Engineer for Tensar International, the inventor of polymeric soil reinforcing and stabilising geogrids (2005-present). Yuli is based in Tensar’s UK HQ and holds the overall responsibility of the Tensar Eastern Hemisphere Design Team with offices in Germany, Holland, France, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and China and representatives in Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Yuli is the immediate past Chair of the UK Committee of the International Geosynthetics Society and has authored and delivered several publications about reinforced soil around the world. She is a judge for the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Engineering Awards and the UK Ground Engineering Awards. She is a registered STEM Ambassador and the first female Engineer in the North West of the UK to obtain Fellowship of the ICE in September 2011. Yuli is also the first civilian to become a Fellow of the Institution of Royal Engineers (FInstRE) in May 2018.


Lecture Title: 

Celebrating Reinforced Soil Structures:
A historic review from the mid-60’s original concept to today’s design and GOOD construction practice using site-won and other non-‘standard’ reinforced soil fills.



The first use of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) polymeric geogrid reinforcement in civil engineering was to reinforce and construct a 2.5m high temporary reinforced soil wall at Newmarket/Silkstone colliery in West Yorkshire, UK in 1980, just 2 years after the first polymeric geogrid was invented by Dr Mercer in 1978 in Blackburn, UK. HDPE geogrid Reinforced Soil Retaining Wall (RSRW) Systems have since been widely used around the world forming various geometries, reaching unprecedented retaining heights in excess of 60m and serving various functions from supporting open air golf courses to airport runways.
This keynote will give a historic insight on how HDPE geogrid RSRW Systems have evolved in the past 40 years through presenting 10 different case studies, showcasing different types of non-standard reinforced fills including both site-won and purpose-made reinforced fill, the challenges they presented and the lessons learned. By
describing the use of variable, non-standard reinforced fills ranging from site-won cohesive fill, to site-won chalk, to site-won mine stone waste, to locally sourced waste pulverized fuel ash, to landfill waste site -won fill, and others, it will showcase the selection criteria and applicability of these various fills depending on the
performance requirements of the end structure. It will also highlight critical issues that need to be taken into consideration when using non-standard reinforced soil fills, both at design stage and during construction, such as bespoke site testing as well as contingency and remediation plans to cater for inclined weather or for when site
testing does not meet the required performance.
The ultimate purpose of this Keynote is to, as the title suggests, celebrate polymeric geogrid reinforced structures and manifest how they have become established as reliable alternatives to conventional reinforced concrete structures. In many situations, the discovery of polymeric geogrids has opened up possibilities for the
construction of extraordinary retaining structures that would not otherwise be feasible or would be extortionately expensive, like the 60m high polymeric reinforced soil walls featured as alternatives to conventional concrete viaducts in Fujairah, UAE, thus allowing rapid construction and providing earth retaining solutions resulting in
attractive, stable, cost effective and maintenance free structures for their 120 years design life.