Geosynthetics February/March 2020 - 8

IN MEMORIAM
In Memoriam: Robert M. Koerner

T

Robert M. Koerner. Photograph
courtesy Dennis Degnan Photography

8

Geosynthetics | February March 2020

he geosynthetics community is deeply saddened by the news of Robert M. and Pauline
W. Koerner's passing. The couple leaves a lasting legacy through their creation of the
Geosynthetic Institute, their philanthropy, and their many accomplishments professionally
and personally.
Bob Koerner was a pioneer of geosynthetics, an influencer with a long record of geosynthetics achievements. Author, researcher, philanthropist and founder, Bob helped create the modern field of geosynthetics. Co-author of the first book on what would become
geosynthetics-Construction and Geotechnical Engineering Using Synthetic Fabrics-Bob
was also the author of Designing with Geosynthetics, a still-in-print, influential publication
now in its sixth edition.
Initially, Bob had concerns about the term "geosynthetics," telling interviewer Sigrid
Tornquist in the October-November 2016 issue of Geosynthetics magazine, "I went along
with geosynthetics, even though I had written a couple of papers by then using the term
'geopolymers.' I wish I'd stuck to my guns because in truth everything is a synthetic. Concrete
is a synthetic. Steel is a synthetic. Really we're in the polymer business. . . . But, as they say,
that horse done left the barn."
In 1986 Bob founded the Geosynthetic Research Institute within Drexel University where
he was a professor. This became the Geosynthetic Institute (GSI) in 1991. Bob remained
involved in the institute until his death, serving as director emeritus while his son, George,
served as director of GSI. He also kept his ties to Drexel, serving as professor emeritus of
civil, architectural and environmental engineering after his retirement.
Bob and Paula founded the Koerner Family Foundation in 2001, which funds geosynthetics engineering research in the United States. The foundation has awarded more than 100
fellowships of up to $5,000 each.
Bob actively taught online through GSI webinars and courses on a wide variety of geosynthetics topics. He also continued to write regularly, including columns and features for
Geosynthetics magazine.
Bob and Paula are survived by their three children-Michael (wife Mary) Koerner, George
(wife Jamie) Koerner and Pauline (husband Doug) Limberg-and six grandchildren. G



Geosynthetics February/March 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Geosynthetics February/March 2020

Geosynthetics February/March 2020 - Cover1
Geosynthetics February/March 2020 - Cover2
Geosynthetics February/March 2020 - 1
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Geosynthetics February/March 2020 - Cover3
Geosynthetics February/March 2020 - Cover4
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