The North American Chapter of the
International Geosynthetics Society


IGS North America, formerly known as NAGS (the North American Geosynthetics Society), was established as a Chapter of the IGS (International Geosynthetics Society) in 1988. IGS-NA (The North American Chapter of the International Geosynthetics Society) is an organization in which individual and student members comprise the learned society whose mission is to support the development of geosynthetic technologies through education, communication and networking. Towards those goals we organize short courses on a variety of geosynthetic topics (typically 3 – 5 per year), organize or participate as co-organizers and sponsors of conferences such as the Biannual Geosynthetics Conferences put on in odd years with IFAI and GMA, various conferences with the Geosynthetics Research Institute, ASCE, and other local and regional organizations. In many instances, IGS-NA provides the technical arm to develop the technical portion of the conference sessions. Our members are eligilble to participate in all IGS-NA and IGS events and receive discounts in accordance with the individual guidelines of each conference and are typically substantial enough to compensate for the IGS-NA membership fee with just one event registration. Programs sponsored by IGS-NA at our events include Student Award program, Awards of Excellence and others, all of which provide public and financial recognition to the award recipients. IGS-NA is managed by an elected Board of 9 Directors and 1 Executive Director.

A Bit of History – 2013 - Twenty-Five Years of IGS-NA Incorporation

he North American Geosynthetics Society (NAGS) formed in 1986 and was officially incorporated in the State on Minnesota on Feb. 3, 1988. For a year or two prior to the official formation in 1986, there was a small group of individuals that existed and worked to organize the Society officially.

The founding Board of Directors included:

  • Joseph Fluet; President
  • Robert Koerner; President – Elect
  • Robert Holtz; Executive Vice President
  • Robert Carroll; Vice President
  • Kerry Rowe; Vice President
  • John Paulson; Treasurer
The original mission statement of the Society was:

To advance the use of geosynthetics as engineering materials and to provide forums to facilitate communication among those interested in the application of geosynthetics in geotechnical, transportation and environmental engineering applications. This mission will be accomplished through the following ways:

  1. Organization of technical conferences, seminars and workshops.
  2. Encouragement of interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge.
  3. Recognition of technical contributions and innovations by IGS-NA members.
  4. Education of current and future users of geosynthetics and the education of educators.
  5. Promotion of geosynthetics curriculum in the formal education of engineering students.
  6. Stimulation of research on geosynthetics and their applications through the IGS-NA Awards of Excellence Program.
  7. Promotion of the geosynthetics discipline as a profession.
In 2015 this mission statement was revised to read as follows:

The mission of IGS-NA is to provide leadership in advancing geosynthetics education and research to attain their appropriate and widespread use as engineering materials as the Chapter of the International Geosynthetic Society (IGS) for the United States of America and Canada. IGS North America will accomplish its mission through:

  1. Organization of technical conferences, seminars and workshops.
  2. Advanced training of current users of geosynthetics.
  3. Training future users of geosynthetics.
  4. Training geosynthetic educators.
  5. Promotion of geosynthetics as part of engineering curricula.
  6. Targeting impactful new members.
  7. Better communication with members.
  8. Enhanced partnerships with associated organizations.

Since the founding of the Society the following individuals have served as president: Joseph Fluet ( 1987-1989), Robert Koerner (1989-1991), Robert Holtz (1991-1993), Jay Beech (1993-1995), Barry Christopher (1995-1997), Richard Bathurst (1997-1999, Did not serve a full term. See below.), John Paulson (1999-2001), Karen Henry (2001-2003), David Suits (2003-2005), Grace Hsuan (2005-2008), David Elton (2008-2011), Dean Sandri (2011-2013), Robert Mackey (2013-2015), John Henderson (2015-2017), Richard Brachman, (2017-2019) The current president serving from 2019-2021 is John McCartney.

Richard Bathurst’s term as president was shortened due to his election to president of the International Geosynthetics Society. John Paulson was acting president during what time remained of Richard’s presidency of IGS-NA.

In keeping with both its original and current mission statement, IGS-NA has been involved in the biennial North American geosynthetics conferences since its organization. The 6th International Geosynthetics Conference (ICG) was hosted by IGS-NA in 1998 in Atlanta, GA. North America also hosted the 2nd ICG in 1982 in Las Vegas, NV, prior to the formation of IGS-NA. IGS-NA has been awarded the sponsorship of the 2016 Pan American Geosynthetics Conference.

Participation by students in the activities of IGS-NA has been supported in several ways. Free student membership is offered to all students with an interest in geosynthetics. IGS-NA has sponsored student paper competitions at each of the biennial conferences with the finalists receiving travel support to the conference and the winning paper receiving a cash award. The winning student also receives support for participation at an international conference following the biennial conference where the paper is first presented.

The purpose of the Awards of Excellence Program has been to stimulate research in the innovative use of geosynthetics. Awards up to $5000 have been given in the past. The most recent project was completed in 2007. The project report, “Use of Geosynthetics in the Mining and Mineral Processing Industry,” was prepared by Karin Renken, David Mchaina, and Ernest Yanful. Copies of the report are available through the IGS-NA office.

More recently IGS-NA has been working cooperatively with the Geosynthetics Materials Association (GMA) in a couple of new undertakings. One of these is the organizing of several regional short courses on geosynthetics in transportation. The other has been supporting GMA in its lobbying efforts with the US Congress. These lobbying efforts resulted in a Government Accounting Office Report, “Information on Materials and Practices for Improving Highway Pavement Performance.” The report highlights geosynthetics as one of these materials. The report is available here.

As the Learned Society for geosynthetics in North America, our Members are engineers, educators, manufacturers, contractors, regulators and researchers collectively dedicated to creating opportunities for sharing new knowledge and developing a better understanding of geosynthetics.

John McCartney
Dr. John S. McCartney

University of California San Diego
La Jolla, California
Ph: 858-534-9630

John Allen
John Allen

​Owens Corning
Duluth, Minnesota

Ph: 218-393-6796

Ranjiv Gupta
Dr. Ranjiv Gupta, Ph.D., P.E.

Freeport – McMoRan
Phoenix, Arizona
Ph: 602-366-7170

Secretary, Vice President
Ben Leshchinsky
Ben Leshchinsky

Oregon State University
Corvallis, Oregon
Ph: 541-737-8873

Vice President
John Lostumbo
Vice President Communications
Bruno Herlin
Bruno Herlin

Terrafix Geosynthetics Inc.
Toronto, Ontario
Ph: 416-674-0363

Vice President University Outreach
Timothy Stark
Timothy D. Stark

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, Illinois
Ph: 217-333-7394

Vice President
Kate Patterson

Associate, Tailings and Water Resources Engineer
Vancouver BC
Ph: +1 604 251 8487

Richard Brachman
Dr. Richard W.I. Brachman

Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario
Ph: 613-533-3096

Liaison Board Member, IGS
Jie Han

Jie Han, Ph.D., PE, F.ASCE
Glenn L. Parker Professor of Geotechnical Engineering
The University of Kansas
Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering
2150 Learned Hall, 1530 W. 15th Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66045
Tel: 785-864-3714

Liaison Board Member for GeoInstitute​
​Jorge G Zornberg

Liaison Board Member for GeoInstitute​

Liaison Board Member for GMA
Fred C. Chuck, P.E.

Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA)
(651) 225-6956