top of page
Invited Speakers

Delwyn G. Fredlund, O.C., P. Eng.

Engineering Decisions Associated with Unsaturated Soil Mechanics

large-Del Fredlund_edited.png

Delwyn G. Fredlund has spent over 40 years conducting research into the behavior of unsaturated and expansive soils. Most of his career was spent at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, where he organized the Unsaturated Soils Group for research into all aspects of unsaturated soils behavior. Presently Del heads the Golder Unsaturated Soils Group linking the worldwide offices of Golder Associates. His research studies have involved all areas of unsaturated soil behavior; ranging from the flow of water and air through unsaturated soils to the shear strength and volume change of unsaturated soils.


Del Fredlund obtained his B.Sc. degree from the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon in 1962. He went to work for the Division of Building Research of the National Research Council in Saskatoon, Sask. He then went on to obtain his M.Sc. degree in 1964 from the University of Alberta, Edmonton.


In 1966 Del Fredlund accepted a position in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. In 1973 he obtained his Ph.D. after returning to the University of Alberta for his studies. During his career he supervised over 75 M.Sc. and Ph.D. graduate students.  He became the Head of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan from 1989 to 1994. He has also been appointed as an Adjunct Professor at a number of national and international universities.


Fredlund’s research studies have focused on unsaturated soil mechanics and the behaviour of unsaturated soils. He is the author, along with Harianto Rahardjo, of the book “Soil Mechanics for Unsaturated Soils”, published in 1993. He is also a co-author of the book, “Unsaturated Soil Mechanics in Engineering Practice”, along withRahardjo and Murray Fredlund, published in 2012, both books by John Wiley & Sons, New York. Dr. Fredlund has published approximately 500 journal and conference research papers and has delivered many keynote lectures at conferences.

Daichao Sheng

large-Daichao Sheng_edited.png

Professor Daichao Sheng is a Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering and the Head of School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) since 2019.  Before his current role, he was a Professor of Geomechanics at the University of Newcastle during 1997-2019. He also holds a conjoint position at Central South University in China since 2013. His research interest spans computational geomechanics, unsaturated soils, transport geotechnics and environmental geotechnics.  Prof Sheng is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (FTSE), and a Fellow of Institute of Engineers in Australia (FIEAust).

Mike O’Kane, P.Eng., M.Sc., MAusIMM, GCB.D

Thirty Years of Applied Unsaturated Soil Mechanics in the Mining Industry

large-Mike OKane_edited.png

Mike O’Kane, P.Eng., M.Sc., MAusIMM, GCB.D, founded Okane Consultants (Okane) in 1996, a company providing integrated mine planning, closure, and relinquishment solutions to the mining industry internationally. Mike is the chair   of Okane’s Board of Directors and continues to work within Okane as a senior technical advisor, using his wide-ranging technical expertise and knowledge on risk management best practices as tools for development and communication of closure planning and project specific objectives and designs. He is a recognized subject matter expert in cover system and landform design, and application of unsaturated zone hydrology and geochemistry, for mine waste management.  Mike is a director of the Landform Design Institute and chair of its Technical Advisory Panel.  He holds a Global ESG Competence Boards Designation.


In 2014 Mike received the University of Saskatchewan Alumni Achievement Award for “Global Development of his Business and Corporation, and Philanthropy”.

Michel Aubertin, Ph.D., FCAE, FEIC, FCSCE

Emeritus Professor, Polytechnique Montréal, Département des génies civil, géologique et des mines

Unsaturated properties of mine tailings and waste rocks: from measurements to large scale applications

large-Michel Aubertin_edited.png

Michel Aubertin is Professor at Polytechnique Montreal since 1989. In 2001, he was awarded the Industrial NSERC Polytechnique-UQAT Chair - Environment and Mine Wastes Management. In 2013, he became the first Director of the Research Institute on Mines and Environment, RIME, at Polytechnique.  Soon after his retirement in 2017, he was named Professor Emeritus, and he continues his work on mining geotechnique and mine wastes management issues. M. Aubertin was the President of the Canadian Geotechnical Society in 2009-2010; he became the Executive Director of the CGS in 2015. 

Sandra Houston

The Two Stress State Variable Link from Stress Path to Stress State Surface to Elastoplastic Unsaturated Soil Modeling

large-Sandra Houston_edited.png

Sandra Houston is Professor Emerita in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University. Professor Houston’s contributions to the field of geotechnical engineering focus on unsaturated soils and arid region problem soils, including in particular collapsible and expansive soils and unsaturated flow. Sandra has served in numerous leadership positions in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Geo-Institute (GI), and the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE). She is a recipient of the 2017 ASCE Terzaghi Award, the 2004 William H. Wisely American Society of Civil Engineers Award, the 2018 Distinguished Lecturer for the Pan-American Unsaturated Soils Conference series, and the 9th Pedro de Alba lecturer. Professor Houston has also served as president of the Geo-Institute, and chair of the ASCE Board-level Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. She was the formational Chair of the GI Committee on Unsaturated Soils and served for many years as a USA representative and secretary of the TC106 Committee on Unsaturated Soils.

Bernardo Caicedo

Simulating extreme weather conditions, freezing, raining, and desiccation through unsaturated soil mechanics

large-Bernardo Caicedo (2)_edited.png

Prof. Caicedo is a Professor of Geotechnics at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of UNIANDES. He has supervised 95 Master theses, 15 PhD students and 2 postdocs, leading more than 65 research projects in geotechnics in UNIANDES. He is a member of the editorial board of high impact factor journals and a reviewer for several international journals. He has co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, with an excess of 1500 citations in the past 5 years (h-index 21). He has received the Telford premium award in 2016 and he was awarded the Geotechnical Research Medal in 2018 and the Overseas Prizes award in 2020, all from the Institution of Civil Engineers from the UK. Nowadays, Bernardo Caicedo is vice chair of the technical committee TC106 (Unsaturated Soils) and is member of the board of the committee TC202 (Transportation Geotechnics), both from the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.

Luciano A. Oldecop

large-Luciano Oldecop_edited.png

Luciano A. Oldecop was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He obtained a Degree in Civil Engineering from the National University of San Juan (UNSJ) in 1989. In 2001, he completed his Ph.D. at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona. Since 1990, he has been a member of the research staff of the Instituto de Investigaciones Antisísmicas "Ing. Aldo Bruschi" (IDIA) in San Juan, Argentina. For more than three decades, he has been actively involved in technical assistance activities for the hydropower, mining, and nuclear industries. His research interests include soil liquefaction, unsaturated soils, soil-atmosphere interaction, seismic hazard assessment, and the design and safety of water and tailings dams. He has been particularly interested in the applications of unsaturated soil mechanics concepts to mine waste disposal. He has been a full professor since 2012 and leads the Ph.D. Program in Civil Engineering at UNSJ. As of September 2019, he is the Vice Director of IDIA.

Xiong Zhang


Xiong Zhang is the James A. Heidman Professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T). He received his Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University. Before he joined in the Missouri S&T, he worked at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Cincinnati for 10 years.


Zhang has been teaching and conducting research in the field of geotechnical engineering since 1992. His studies focus on development of advanced laboratory techniques to rapidly characterize geomaterials, constitutive modeling coupled hydro-mechanical behavior of unsaturated soils, numerical modeling of climate-soil-structure interaction, slope stability analysis, soil stabilization and ground improvement, and frozen ground engineering. He recently received the 2016 International Innovation Award in Unsaturated Soil Mechanics from TC106 Committee on Unsaturated Soils within the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.


Zhang is currently serving as editorial board member of Canadian Geotechnical Journal, Associate Editor for ASCE Journal of Cold Region Engineering. He also serves as a chair of ASCE GI Shallow Foundation Committee and committee member of several nationwide technical committees.

Richard Wan

Richard Wan_edited.png

Richard Wan is a Professor with the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Calgary. He holds a diplôme d’ingénieur from the Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de L’Etat (ENTPE), an MSc in geotechnical engineering from the University of Ottawa, and a PhD. in geomechanics from the University of Alberta. He is the recipient of the first Robert J. Melosh medal in Finite Element Analysis.

He has many years of experience in geomechanics with special emphasis on continuum mechanics, micromechanics, experimental mechanics, soil and rock mechanics, constitutive laws for engineering materials and computational modelling of complex geotechnical structures via a multiscale and multiphysics approach. He sits on the Editorial Board of several leading International Journals in geomechanics and is a member of the TC103 (Numerical Methods) of the ISSMGE. His research expertise covers the fields of Geomechanics, Micromechanics and Computational Mechanics with applications such as energy resource extraction, cold regions engineering, stability of unsaturated dykes, and Superpave highway design. Lately, he has had a keen interest in extending geomechanics theories in thermodynamics views via concepts of entropy in dissipative systems with ramifications to complex systems. This has led to a recent NSERC transdisciplinary project such as the modelling of a pandemic using a mechanistic, multiscale approach.

He has supervised and graduated over 50 PhD students with three of them being professors in major Canadian Universities. He works within an international research network and is the author of over 150 publications and has published 3 books.

Giuseppe Buscarnera

Guisepe Buscarnera_edited.png

Giuseppe Buscarnera is Professor of Civil Engineering at Northwestern University, which he joined in 2011. He received his B.Sc. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from the Politecnico di Milano, Italy, and a Ph.D. in Geomechanics from the Politecnico di Torino, Italy. Buscarnera's research focuses on geomechanics, geohazards, granular materials, and multi-physics of porous media. He is the PI of numerous sponsored research projects on these topics, has served as the chairman of the EMI committee on Poromechanics, and is the current Editor-in-Chief of Géotechnique Letters. His research has been recognized with the Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation and the Arthur Casagrande award of the America Society of Civil Engineers.

Ning Lu

Ning Lu_edited.png

Ning Lu has been working on fundamental concepts of effective stress (suction stress) and soil water potential (matric suction) in the past two decades. He has unified soil’s effective stress under both saturated and unsaturated conditions, moving beyond the classical Terzaghi’s and Bishop’s effective stress representations. For his work on unification of effective stress, he received American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Norman Medal twice; first in 2007 for conceptualization of suction stress, and second in 2021 for formulation of a practical closed form effective stress equation. He further defines a general thermodynamics-based pore water potential in soil under both saturated and unsaturated conditions. In the past two decades, he has formulated a new paradigm for slope stability under variably saturated conditions, which has been bestowed by ASCE for its 2017 R. B. Peck Award, and M. A. Biot Medal. He is the recipient of 2023 ASCE Karl Terzaghi Award. He is a distinguished member of ASCE, a fellow of Geological Society of America, and Engineering Mechanics Institute. He has published two widely used textbooks: Unsaturated Soil Mechanics (Lu and Likos, 2004, John Wiley and Sons), and Hillslope Hydrology and Stability (Lu and Godt, 2013, Cambridge University Press).

bottom of page