Kerry Rowe

Educated at Fort Street High School (1964-1969) and the University of Sydney in Sydney Australia where he was awarded a BSc (Computer Science) in 1973, BE (Hons I, Civil Engineering) and the University Medal in 1975, a PhD in 1979 and D.Eng in 1993. He was awarded a DSc(hc) by Western University in 2016 in recognition of his contribution to both the advancement of the science and the engineering practice in environmental protection. Dr. Rowe worked as a geotechnical engineer with the Australian Government Department of Construction prior to emigrating to Canada in 1978. He spent 22 years as a professor, including 8 years as Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, at The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. From 2000-2010 he served as Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada where he was responsible for the administration of all research (in Business, Education, Humanities, Law, Social Sciences, Physical and Biological Sciences, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Health Sciences and Medicine) conducted at Queen’s. He is presently a Professor and the Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering at Queen’s. He is the lead author of the book “Barrier Systems for Waste Disposal Facilities”, and editor of the Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering Handbook for Kluwer Academic Publishers. He has more than 340 refereed journal papers, 3 books, 14 book chapters, and 330 full conference papers. His research and consulting has been in:

  • contaminant migration through soil and rock
  • landfill design
  • containment of contaminated sites
  • geosynthetics (including geotextiles, geomembranes, geogrids, geonets etc.)
  • tailings storage facilities, heap leach pads, and dams
  • reinforced embankments and walls
  • tunnels in soft ground
  • failure of slopes and excavations

A winner of both UWO (1996) and OCUFA (1997) Excellence in Teaching Awards, and the Queen’s University Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision (2013), he has supervised over 100 graduate students, many of whom have won prizes for their research. He has been recognized by over 90 awards for his research including an NSERC Steacie Fellowship, Killam Prize, Killam Fellowship, R.F. Legget Medal, Sir John Kennedy Medal, The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee MedalQueen’s University Excellence in Research Prize, ICE’s Thomas Telford Gold Medal, and the RSC’s Miroslaw Romanowski Medal. He has presented many prestigious lectures including the Giroud Lecture (2002), Rankine Lecture (2005), Manuel Rocha Lecture (2006), Casagrande Lecture (2011), and the Ferroco-Terzaghi Oration (2012). In 2013, the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering created the R. Kerry Rowe Lecture to honour his seminal contributions to the development of geoenvironmental engineering. He has been elected to the world’s oldest and most prestigious scientific society recognizing fundamental contributions to science, the Royal Society (of London, UK). He has also been elected a foreign member of the US National Academy of Engineering, a fellow UK Royal Academy of Engineering and both the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Engineering as well as being a fellow of the Engineering Institute of CanadaAustralian Institution of EngineersCanadian Society for Civil Engineering, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. He is past president of the International Geosynthetics Society, the Canadian Geotechnical Society and the Engineering Institute of Canada.

He has been involved in the design and/or peer review of hydrogeology and/or design for more than 50 landfills in Canada, US and other countries, has performed expert reviews of municipal solid waste landfills for the US EPA, US Dept. of Justice, Ontario Ministry of Environment, and Victorian Environmental Protection Authority, and of low level radioactive waste landfills for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. He has served as an expert witness in a number cases subject to litigation in USA, Canada, and Australia. He was the only non-US member of the U.S. National Academies Committee appointed to assess the performance of engineered waste containment barriers.  He has is presently serving as the only non-US member of the Scientific Advisory Board for a major NSF funded project.

He is Editor of the highly regarded International Journal Geotextiles and Geomembranes, subject Editor of Royal Society Open Science, Associate Editor of the Canadian Geotechnical Journal and Waste Management, presently serves on the Editorial Board of 10 other journals, and in the past has served 10 years on the editorial board of ASCE Journal Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering and 4 years on the Board of Geotechnique, amongst othersHe is one of only two non-UK members on the committee that selects the three (out of over 100 nominations per year) individuals who get presented for election to the Royal Society of London from the Engineering and Applied Science community world-wide.

Supporting organization



Prof. Lyesse Laloui, EPFL
Prof. Alessio Ferrari, EPFL

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