Member Bios for 2013-2015

Member Bios for 2013-2015

The 19 previous members of the YMPG span the globe, comprised of students, professors, researchers, and practitioners; all with a diverse technical background. Each member is willing to serve as a resource for the younger (and all!) members in our profession, whether you have technical questions, are looking for advice as you start your career, or would like to just be friends. Please read about each member below and see how you may further connect. Also look for us on Geo-World!


Sherif Adel Akl
I am currently a member in the ISSMGE’s Young Member Presidential Group (YMPG), I am also a member in the Future Leaders of the American Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA). I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Soil Mechanics and Foundations Research Laboratory (SMFRL) at Cairo University in Egypt. I focus in my research on using constitutive modeling and numerical analysis to investigate issues related to topics such as slope stability, deep excavations, reservoir  geomechanics. Additionally, I serve as a Geotechnical Engineering Consultant with a consulting firm in Egypt called Nile Consult.

I earned my Bachelor of Science, Master of Engineering degrees in The Civil Engineering Department at Cairo University; and Doctor of Philosophy degree in The Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The title of my thesis is "Wellbore Instability Mechanisms in Clays", in which I used advanced constitutive models and performed numerical analyses using FE software ABAQUS. On a more personal level, I enjoy classic music, reading, and movies. If you would like to contact me for further information, or just to chat, you can reach me at

Mohamed Elbyhagi
gazoliMohamed El-Byhagi El-Fadil (13 Years; Total Experience) is Sudanese nationality. Holding MSc in geotechnical engineer 2008, BSc in Civil engineer (Structure) 2004 and Diploma in Civil engineer 2000. Have been Published seven papers in the area of an Unsaturated Slope.  Received three awards. In 2010 nominated to represent young geotechnical Engineer in Sudan Society for soil mechanics and Geotechnical Engineer.  In 2013 nominated to be YMPG member. Joined Building and Road Research Institute – University of Khartoum for 8 years. Quality control engineer and Assistant resident engineer for ALDBASEEN Bridge.  Resident engineering for three small earth dams.  Material Engineering for three high way projects. Quality control Engineer two Bridges.

Possess extensive experience in Geotechnical Engineer such as site investigation and Design of foundation, Deep foundation, Retaining wall, slope stability, soil improvement and road as well as Materials Tests such as soil, rock, concrete and asphalt work with full comprehensive knowledge and direct experience of all the laboratory and field tests involved. Possesses experience in the Concrete Structure Assessment and Repair with good knowledge in repair materials. Possesses great experienced in usage of Computer Software for Geotechnical and Structure engineering applications. Possesses good experience in Project Management with work experience includes projects undertaken in Sudan. You can contact me at
Abdou Xaadir Gaye
I am a member of the YMPG representing the region of Africa, from Thies, Senegal. You can contact me at


Ilhan Chang
changI am the Korean representative of the ISSMGE’s Young Member Presidential Group (YMPG) since 2013. I am a senior researcher of geotechnical engineering in the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT), which is the one and only government-funded research institute on civil engineering in Korea. My major field of interest is soil characterization and ground improvements such as geophysical characterization using elastic waves, DCM (Deep Cement Mixing), scouring monitoring and protection, and biogenic soil treatment. Nowadays, I am trying to expand my efforts on geo-environmental issues such as environmentally-friendly embankments and developing countermeasures for desertification using biogenic materials, as well as cosmic geotechnical engineering based on lunar soil reproduction and characterization. Within my national society (KGS: Korean Geotechnical Society), I am engaged in Foreign / International Relationship and Young Member committees of the KGS.

I earned my Bachelor of Science (at 2000), Master of Engineering (at 2004), and Doctor of Philosophy (at 2010) degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). The topics of my dissertations were soft soil evaluation using elastic waves and soil treatment using biogenic biopolymers, respectively. After serving as a Research Assistant Professor at KAIST for two years, I moved to KICT to accumulate experiences on practical and full scale applications. I am also serving my professional duty as an Invited Professor at KAIST, recently. For more details, you can contact me at
Janaka J. Kumara
kumaraI currently serve as one of three members from Asia in the Young Member Presidential Group (YMPG). I also work closely with International Society of Rock Mechanics (ISRM) representing Sri Lanka as the sole member. In recent times, I contributed in some international works such as being a reviewer in Geomechanics and Engineering (Techno Press) and in a few International Conferences of Geotechnical Engineering too (e.g., GEOMATE 2011, ACEPS 2012, GEOMATE 2012, etc.) as well as the editor of Annual Research Journal of SLSAJ in addition to contributions made at domestic levels. I also enjoyed teaching for undergraduate students at Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka for a year or so.

I currently work as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Department of Civil Engineering, Tokyo University of Science, Japan. My current research focuses on standardization of evaluation method for bearing capacity of open-ended piles. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka, 7 years back. Since then, I moved to Japan and earned my Master of Engineering and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Civil Engineering at Yokohama National University, Japan. My previous researches involve studies on effects of tie tamping maintenance application on ballasted railway tracks, deformation characteristics of fouled ballasts, effects of different loading conditions on deformation properties of mudstone, improvement of dredged clay using paper sludge as a backfilling material, image analysis on shape characteristics of granular materials and so on.

I do enjoy professional and social networks too (e.g., FB groups of 5iYGEC’13-2013, 7AYGEC-2012, etc.). I also enjoy cricket, hiking, bowling, sightseeing and international politics as well. If you would like to contact me for any information, professional or social matters, you can reach me at
Lucy Wu
lucywuI am currently leading the Website Taskforce within the YMPG. After graduating from MIT with a Bachelors of Science and Stanford University with a Masters of Science in Civil Engineering, I started my career as a geotechnical engineer with Arup in Hong Kong. My work is primarily focused on private building developments, mainly on the design of excavations and foundations. I have been involved in the design of several excavation with large unbalanced loads as well as the design of different types of deep foundations. I have also worked on other geotechnical work such as slope stability and natural terrain hazard mitigation. I am a licensed professional engineer (PE) in the State of California. I enjoy reading, long distance running, hiking, and traveling in my free time.

Feel free to contact me about anything, technical or otherwise. I can be reached at



Martin Barrientos
A fourth year graduate geotechnical engineer working for Beca Ltd in New Zealand, Martin's technical focus has been primarily in the government infrastructure market segment. In his current role, Martin is one of the primary engineers responsible for delivery of the geotechnical aspects of bridge design on a large expressway project in the lower North Island of New Zealand.

His areas of technical knowledge include:
· shallow and deep foundation design
· slope and embankment stability assessments
· seismic design, including liquefaction assessment and mitigation with a variety of ground improvement types
· retaining wall design and
· geotechnical investigations.

Martin holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Civil Engineering degree obtained at the University of Auckland. Martin has represented his company at a number of national society (New Zealand Geotechnical Society) events, including the 19th NZGS symposium held in 2013. He has also written articles and presented on topics of interest. Most recently, Martin has been involved in geotechnical conferences in Australasia: writing papers for and will present in the Young Geotechnical Professionals Conference and the Australia-New Zealand Geotechnical Conference (in 2015).

Outside of work Martin is a keen distance runner and enjoys travelling and tramping (hiking). He also has an appreciation for a number of indoor activities too. Martin represents New Zealand on the ISSMGE's YMPG and can be contacted at

Ross Kristinof
Ross completed his undergraduate studies at Monash university in Australia in 2006, and since then has been working as a geotechnical engineer with Jacobs Engineering (formerly Sinclair Knight Merz). Ross also took a year off to complete his Master of Science in Soil Mechanics at Imperial College London, in 2010/11. Ross has completed site investigation, interpretative report and design projects right around Australia, as well as some construction supervision on Infrastructure projects in Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin and the Pilbara. Over the past few years Ross has developed a particular interest in the geotechnical aspects of maritime works, in particular marine piling. You can contact Ross on

Darshan Leckraz
I am a member of the YMPG representing the region of Australasia, from Brisbane, Australia. You can contact me at


Aleksandra Chepurnova
chepurnovaI am currently serving as the Vice-Chair of the ISSMGE’s Young Member Presidential Group (YMPG), a position I have held since 2013 when I was elected. I am a research geotechnical engineer at Research Institute of Bases and Underground Structures (NIIOSP) in the Department of Geotechnical Analysis and Numerical Methods. Also I am a PhD candidate in Civil Engineering at (NIIOSP). My research involves study of jet-grouted material using physical sample tests, analytical and numerical analysis. My technical duties focus on deep excavation, retaining wall stability, soil-structure interaction, pile foundations, underpinning solutions, numerical modeling, and the expert-advisory activities. Within my national society, I have also been active in younger member activities, serving on the Young Borough within the Russian Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.

I earned my Master of Engineering degrees in Moscow University of Civil Engineering and am a licensed professional engineer. The concentration for my dissertation is on applying the non-linear Hoek-Brown failure criteria to characterize soilcrete stress-strain relationships. On a more personal level, I enjoy meeting with new people, traveling, Alp skiing, and swimming.
If you would like to contact me for further information, or just to chat, you can reach me at

Sabatino Cuomo
cuomoI am currently the Italian member of the of the ISSMGE’s Young Member Presidential Group (YMPG), formerly Italian corresponding member of SYMPG (Student and Young Members Presidential Group) since 2009. I am Assistant Professor in Geotechnics in the Civil Engineering Department of Salerno University (Italy). My principal research topics are: numerical modelling of landslides with special emphasis on flowslides and debris avalanches, analysis of engineered slopes and design of geosynthetics-reinforced embankments and, more recently, unsaturated soils testing. I have been working in international research groups belonging to Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Norwegian Technical University and Universitè de Grenoble. I co-authored scientific papers about engineering practice issues published in peer-review outstanding international journals such as ASCE, Canadian, Engineering Geology, Landslides and Geomorphology.

I licensed professional engineer (PE) in 2002, also serving as geotechnical engineer in Italian Geotechnical Society since this date. Within my national society (AGI), I coordinated the first three years of IAGIG (Incontro Annuale dei Ricercatori di Geotecnica; Annual Meeting of Geotechnical Engineers,, which is now a well-known and established initiative of AGI, also joined by Italian Engineers working abroad.

My email address is and I will be glad to hear from you.

Felix Jacobs
In August 2013, I had the chance to participate at the 5th International Young Geotechnical Engineers’ Conference (5th iYGEC) in Paris as a delegate supported by the German Geotechnical Society. This was a unique experience and motivated me to get involved with the issues of the ISSMGE. Since 2014, I serve in the ISSMGE’s Young Member Presidential Group (YMPG) and enjoy promoting the interests of young members.

Currently, I am a PhD student, working at the Institute of Geotechnical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University in Germany. My research focuses on geogrid reinforced soil. Herein, I work on a project regarding the pull-out behavior of geogrids, trying to develop a model for the complex interface behavior between geogrids and soil. Additionally, I carry out large-scale biaxial compression tests to directly investigate the compound behavior of geogrid reinforced soil with its characteristic interlocking and stabilizing effects.

Through my supervisor, Prof. Martin Ziegler, I am involved in the board for the German Recommendation for design and analysis of earth structures using geosynthetic reinforcements (EBGEO) and I am familiar with the European/Germans standards, especially regarding retaining structures.

Personally, I enjoy travelling (especially with my camper), and do lots of sports as soccer, kitesurfing, beach volleyball, and snowboarding in winter. If you would like to contact me regarding my research topics, the standards, or any other topic, feel free to reach me at

North America

Julian McGreevy
I am currently serving as a member on the ISSMGE’s Young Member Presidential Group (YMPG), a position I have held since 2013. I am geological engineer working for BGC Engineering in Vancouver, Canada. I have worked predominantly on dam construction and mine site closure projects since joining BGC with a particular emphasis on oil sands closure and reclamation.

I earned my Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Geological Engineering at the University of British Columbia and I am currently an engineer in training and a geoscientist in training. I am interested in mine geotechnique, mine remediation, and dam design and construction and hope to broaden my geotechnical experience over the next 5 years. I also personally enjoy taking advantage of the recreation options in the ocean and the mountains around Vancouver. If you would like to contact me for more information or to talk, you can reach me at

Jennifer Nicks
JNicks smallI am currently serving as the Chair of the ISSMGE’s Young Member Presidential Group (YMPG), a position I have held since 2009 when I was a PhD candidate. I have since transitioned from a student to a young professional. My primary technical duties are as a research geotechnical engineer with the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration in the Office of Infrastructure Research and Development. As part of the Bridge and Foundation Engineering Team, my research focus has been on aggregate characterization, shallow foundations, engineered fills, numerical modeling, scour, load and resistance factor design, and the Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil (GRS) Integrated Bridge System (IBS). Additionally, I serve on research project panels and technical committees for national and international organizations. Within my national society, I have also been active in younger member activities, serving on the Student Participation Committee within the Geo-Institute of ASCE.

I earned my Bachelor of Science, Master of Engineering, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University and am a licensed professional engineer (PE). The concentration for my dissertation was on the bump at the end of the railway bridge, in which I performed a parametric study using finite element modeling (LS-DYNA) and conducted field testing on a mitigation solution at a test site. On a more personal level, I enjoy music, running, and hiking. If you would like to contact me for further information, or just to chat, you can reach me at

Mehdi Omidvar
omidvarI currently serve as a member of ISSMGE’s Young Member Presidential Group (YMPG), and chair of its Motivation Mechanisms Task Force. I am a PhD student in Geotechnical Engineering at New York University, studying the fundamental physics of rapid penetration in granular media. I am also involved in several other projects, including the study of micro-scale soil-structure interactions during pile installation, and the use of diffusing wave spectroscopy in the study of creep in granular media. My past research and professional experience includes solving nonlinear partial differential equations using approximate analytical techniques, static and dynamic modeling of soil-structure problems, and design and analysis of large embankment dams. I am also interested in pedagogical activities; I have worked with New York Academy of Sciences as an education fellow in its After School Mentoring Program, and have several years of experience in teaching undergraduate civil engineering courses.

I have authored and co-authored 20 peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers, several book chapters, and an edited book, with over 200 citations. I have a passion for music, literature, soccer, and traveling. I can be reached at

Cassie Rutherford
I am currently serving as a member of the ISSMGE’s Young Member Presidential Group (YMPG) and a liaison to the ISSMGE Awards Committee. 

I have a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University. I am an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2012. My research interests are in the characterization of marine sediments subjected to dynamic loading and the relationship between geohazard triggering mechanisms and sediment properties. I am also interested in the advancement of laboratory testing devices, offshore sampling equipment, and procedures to minimize and quantify disturbance.  My research contributes to the development of offshore foundations, such as wind turbine foundations, tidal current turbines and subsea structures for oil production. My email is

South America

Juan Ayala
ayalaI am currently part of the Young Member Presidential Group (YMPG), where I serve as Secretary since last year. I have my first close with the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) when I was majoring in Geotechnics in 2011, a day before the 5th international conference on earthquake geotechnical engineering in Santiago of Chile, the ISSMGE president of that time, Professor Jean-Louis Briaud call for a meeting to the young geotechnical engineers (or project of geotechnical engineers) present at the time, told as about the creation of the group (SYMPG at the time) was with the idea of increasing the attractiveness of the society to the younger generations of geotechnical engineers, and since then, that has always been the scope. Actually, thanks to the ISSMGE Foundation I was able to participate of that conference and present a paper in the International Young Geotechnical Engineers’ Conference in Paris last year, so thrust me when I say that the ISSMGE help me in my development as a professional. I earned my Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Civil Engineering at Catholic University of Concepción with my dissertation of the experimental study of shear waves propagation in granular soils using bender elements in the oedometer equipment. I currently work in the rock mechanics area at Golder Associates Santiago office. In a more personal level I like to enjoy music, gliding and spend time with my 5 year old son.
If you want to contact me for further information please send me an email to

Marcelo Heidemann
heidemannI am Civil Engineer. I am Brazilian and Member of YMPG for South America since 2011, when I have started my PhD course. I dedicated my Master course to investigate geotechnical behavior of tropical soils associated with landslides in Southern Brazil.

Tropical soils are also the theme of my PhD thesis, which I am developing in Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, under supervision of Prof. Luiz A. Bressani. I am researching residual soil developed form granites in fault zones, related to mineralogical, petrological and geomechanical characteristics of these materials, and the behavior variability imposed by weathering in this scenario.

I work as Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering courses since 2011. At this moment, I am Professor in the Engineering Mobility Center of Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil.  Additionally, in the last years I have been involved in some activities with Civil Defense, mainly in after-disaster situations related to landslides, as well as, few projects to the industry.

In terms of professional activity, my interest areas are geotechnical behavior of tropical soils, laboratory testing and landslides.

If you would like to contact me, you can reach me at or

Marcos Montoro
montoroI am currently serving as one of the South American representatives for the ISSMGE’s Young Member Presidential Group (YMPG), a position I have held since 2009 when I was a PhD candidate. I have since transitioned from a student to a young professor. Right before of finishing my thesis I´ve was awarded with a Fulbright Bunge-Born Scholarship therefore I spent a semester working as a Fulbright Scholar at University of Wisconsin (Madison). After presenting my PhD Thesis I obtain a postdoc position. Since 2009 I’m serving as Adjunct Professor in the Engineering School of Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, and since 2014 I’m serving as an assistant researcher at CONICET (National Research Council of Argentina).

I earned my Bachelor, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Civil Engineering at Universidad Nacional de Córdoba. My doctoral research dealt with immiscible displacement of Non-aqueous phase liquids pollutants in porous media. During my postdoc years I worked on magnetic resonance application in porous media, mostly focused in developments for the petroleum industry. Currently my research interests involve behavior of composite liners, particle-fluid interaction in presence of contaminants and design of geoenvironmental structures and facilities. Since I was a grad student I became a member of the Argentinean Society for Geotechnical Engineering and I actively participated in the society as member of the organizing committee of the 3rd South American Conference of Young Geotechnical Engineering and currently organizing the XV Panamerican Conference of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. Also I am actively participating in the International Geosynthetics Society as the Chair of its Argentinean Chapter. On a more personal level, I enjoy music and playing tenis.
If you would like to contact me for further information, or just to chat, you can reach me at