Ronald K. “Kerry” Rowe, Ph.D., P.Eng., Dist.M.ASCE, NAE, recognized around the world as a preeminent international leader in geotechnical, geoenvironmental and geosynthetics engineering, has been honored with inclusion by ASCE in its 2020 class of Distinguished Members for his exemplary advances to research and practice in the field, contributions to the technical literature, education of students and professional leadership.
Rowe’s career has been highly productive, spanning over 45 years. His research has included contaminant migration through soil and rock, landfill design, containment of contaminated sites, geosynthetics (including geotextiles, geomembranes, geogrids, and geonets) for fluid containment, reinforced embankments on soft soils and tailings storage facilities, dams. He has also worked on tunnels in soft ground, and the failure of slopes and excavations. His contributions are unprecedented in scope and impact; he has transformed geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering and shaped its future through technical and academic guidance.
Since 2010, Rowe has been a Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering at Queen’s University, where he is also the Barrington Batchelor Distinguished Professor. Before this he was vice-principal (Research) at Queen’s for a decade after spending some 20 years in various positions at the University of Western Ontario.
Rowe is a significant author who has added prolifically to the professional literature, having written over 387 refereed journal articles and three books. Accounting also for conference presentations, reports and the like, his output is over 800 papers. He is editor in chief of both the Geotextiles and Geomembranes Journal and the Royal Society Open Science (Engineering) Journal, and serves as an associate editor and on the editorial boards of many other publications.
He is past president of the International Geosynthetics Society, the Canadian Geotechnical Society and the Engineering Institute of Canada. He has been selected to present some of the most prestigious named geotechnical lectures in the world – for example, the Giroud Lecture (2002), Rankine Lecture (2005), Manuel Rocha Lecture (2006), Casagrande Lecture (2011), Karl Terzaghi Lecture (2017), and Mercer Lecture (2019). In 2013 the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering created the ISSMGE R. Kerry Rowe Lecture in his honor.
He has been elected a fellow The Royal Society (London, U.K.), and the UK Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Canada, and the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and other professional societies in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Rowe is also a foreign member of the National Academy of Engineering,
Of his 120-plus awards, a few are the Thomas Telford Gold Medal, Miroslaw Romanowski Medal, Donald R. Stanley Award, Killam Prize, R.M. Quigley Award, R.F. Legget Medal, and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada (O.C.) in 2018.
Rowe has provided technology transfer and volunteer activities in 36 countries and has been supervisor of over 125 graduate students and been an external examiner in several well-known universities worldwide. He has consulted on engineering projects from the Arctic to Antarctica and in many countries around the world.