Robert M. Koerner, Ph.D., P.E., NAE, D.GE, Dist. M.ASCE

Director Emeritus


Dr. Robert M. Koerner’s (Emeritus Professor at Drexel University) interest in geotechnical/geosynthetics engineering spans fifty years of teaching, research, writing and consulting.  He holds a BSCE degree from Drexel University in 1956, a combined MSCE degree from Columbia, Delaware and Drexel Universities in 1963, and a Ph.D. in Geotechnical Engineering from Duke University in 1968.  He has also studied Law at Temple University from 1963-’64.

Bob began his career in geotechnical engineering on the faculty of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at Drexel University in 1968.  Initial research was on deep foundations, acoustic emission monitoring of soil deformations, and nondestructive testing to locate below ground structured and objects.  In 1980, he co-authored a small book on fabrics and liners (now geosynthetics) and the “phone never stopped ringing”.  Abandoning all other research activity his full and complete focus has been on geosynthetics since that time.  During these forty years of geosynthetics activity, Bob’s written output has been a major activity.  He has authored or co-authored the following publications:

·         Books, Book Chapters, Proceedings and Major Reports     -      95

·         Refereed Journal Papers and Keynote Lectures                -    178

·         Conference Proceedings Papers                                     -    273

·         Misc. Papers, Articles, Limited Distribution Reports          -     217



During this generation of research and development activity, two notable organizational activities were also conceived, implemented, developed and sustained.


(i)   The Geosynthetic Research Institute (GRI) was founded and incorported in 1986.  It was located at Drexel Univeristy until 1998 when we moved off-campus to our present location near the Philadelphia International Airport.  GRI was, and is, tremdously successful.  Federal, state and private research expeditures were over $10M and a consortium of organizations was formed from the outset which continues to the present.

(ii)  The Geosynthetic Instiutte (GSI) was formed and incorporated in 1991 and it was granted tax-free IRS 501(C)(3) status in 1993.  Bylaws, a Board of Advisors, annual conferences, annual meetings, specific focus group meetings, and related activities followed in succession and continue to the present.  There are currently 73 organizations involved representing the entire cross-section of the industry, i.e., agencies, owners, consultants, testing laboratories, resin producers, manufacturers of all types of geosynthetics, and installers as well.


Bob feels very fortunate that many organizations and individuals have looked upon this body-of-work favorably.  His major professional offices and honors follows:


Chairman       -    American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) – 1974-1975

President       -    Philadelphia Section, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – 1975-1976

Recipient       -    Outstanding Educators of America – 1972

Recipient       -    Lindback Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching at Drexel University – 1974

Co-Recipient  -    Industrial Research IR-100 Award, Earth Dam Spill Alert Device – 1977

Recipient       -    Inter Fraternity Association Undergraduate Teaching Award – 1977-1978

Recipient       -    Delaware County Chapter, Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers, Engineer-of-the-Year – 1978

Co-Recipient  -    1st Neal Rice Award – Intl. Briquetting and Agglomeration Society - 1979

Recipient       -    Western Electric Fund Award American Society of Engineering Education, 1980

Recipient       -    Delaware Valley, Engineer-of-the-Year, 1981

Recipient       -    Honorary Doctorate of Engineering Science, Spring Garden College, Philadelphia, PA – 1981

Recipient       -    Civil Engineer-of-the-Year, Philadelphia, PA – 1989

President       -    North American Geosynthetics Society (NAGS) – 1989-1991

Recipient       -    Honorary Member in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – 1992

Recipient       -    1st Mercer Lecture (IGS/ISSMFEE) – 1992

Recipient       -    Award of Merit and Fellow (ASTM) – 1994

Recipient       -    Award of Merit in Design (IGS) – 1994

Co-Recipient  -    Award of Excellence (NAGS) – 1995

Recipient       -    32nd Terzaghi Lecture (ASCE) – 1996

Co-Recipient  -    1st T. Allen Haliburton Award (ASTM) – 1996

Recipient       -    1st Giroud Lecture (IGS) – 1998

Member         -    National Academy of Engineering – 1998

Co-Recipient  -    3rd T. Allen Haliburton Award (ASTM) – 1998

Recipient       -    1st Burmister Lecture (Columbia Univ.) – 1999

Recipient       -    2nd Terzaghi Lecture (TU Vienna) - 1999

Recipient       -    8th Kersten Lecture (Univ. Minnesota) – 2000

Co-Recipient  -    James R. Croes Medal (ASCE) – 2000

Recipient       -    4th George Sowers Lecture (Geo. Tech) – 2001

Recipient       -    2nd CAEE Department Alumni Lecture (Drexel Univ.) – 2001

Recipient       -    10th Jack Hilf Lecture (Univ. Colorado) – 2002

Recipient       -    2nd U.K. Geosynthetics Lecture (ICE-London) – 2002

Recipient       -    College of Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award (Drexel University) – 2003

Honoree        -    Symposium on Research Legacy of R. M. Koerner at Drexel University – 2004

Recipient       -    10th T. H. Wu Lecture (Ohio State Univ.) – 2005

Recipient       -    4th U.K. Geosynthetics Lecture (ICE-London) – 2005

Honoree        -    Robert M. Koerner Symposium on Geosynthetics, ASCE Mechanics Division, Baton Rouge, LA – 2005

Recipient       -    7th Burmister Lecture (Columbia University) – 2005

Recipient       -    Award of “Hero” of GeoInstitute of ASCE – 2005

Recipient       -    Drexel University College of Engineering, Engineer-of-the-Year – 2006

Recipient       -    1st Theodore Sigmon Lecturer (Natl. Acad. Bldg. Insp. Engrs.) – 2007

Recipient       -    11th Robert L. Schiffman Lecturer (Cornell University) – 2007

Recipient       -    3rd H. C. Nutting Lecture (Cincinnati, OH) – 2007

Recipient       -    2nd Distinguished Lecture (Colorado State University) – 2007

Participant     -    External Advisory Council (University of Delaware) – 2006 to 2008

Honoree        -    Honorary Membership in International Geosynthetics Society – 2008

Recipient       -    Diplomat – Geotechnical Engineers Certification – 2009

Participant     -    Dean’s Advisory Council (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) – 2011 to 2014

Co-Recipient  -    Best Paper in Journal of Geotextiles and Geomembranes – 2013 

Recipient       -    Award of “Legend” of GeoInstitute of ASCE – 2014

Honorary Chairman - 2nd Intl. GSI-Asia Conference, Seoul, Korea – 2015

Honoree        -    Robert M. Koerner Symposium on Geoenvironmental Engr., GeoInstitute – 2016

Honoree        -    Robert M. Koerner Biennial Lectureship, Geosynthetic Materials Assoc. – 2017

Honoree        -    Robert M. Koerner Lectureship, GeoMiddle East Conference – 2017

Editorial Board -  Journal Geosynthetics and Ground Engineering - Springer Publ. – 2017

Recipient       -    A. J. Drexel Paul Alumni Award of Drexel University – 2018-2019