ASCE has honored Gregory B. Baecher, Ph.D., P.E, NAE, M.ASCE, with the opportunity to deliver the 2021 Karl Terzaghi Lecture, being so recognized for his advancing of the field of geotechnical risk through research, education and practice.
Baecher is an excellent candidate for the Terzaghi Lecture. He is an internationally renowned expert in assessing, analyzing and managing risk and uncertainty in geotechnical engineering. He is the expert the government agencies consult about anything dealing with risk in this area. He was the technical leader in the risk assessment the USACE conducted for the New Orleans Hurricane Protection System to guide the development of the upgraded system after Hurricane Katrina and to significantly improve risk management by considering the system as a whole, including evacuation and other means to mitigate risk.
He has authored 15 National Resource Council reports, including a handful that have had significant impacts on design and policy: “Water Resources Science, Engineering, and Planning: Coastal Risk Reduction” (2014), “Load and Resistance Factor Design (LFRD) for Deep Foundations” (2004), “Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism” (2002) and “Risk Analysis and Uncertainty in Flood Damage Reduction Studies” (2000). Baecher has been a leader in explaining risk and how an explicit consideration of risk can be used to improve the geotechnical profession.
He has coauthored two books that many practitioners consult regularly: “Risk and Uncertainty in Dam Safety” and “Reliability and Statistics in Geotechnical Engineering.” He played important roles in new Corps of Engineers risk-based guidance for levee design and the Federal Highway Administration load and resistance factor design guidance documents for bridge foundations. Baecher also developed the famous graph showing the frequency of events resulting in different numbers of fatalities (i.e., the F-N “curve plot”) for a variety of industries that was in Dr. Robert Whitman’s 1981 Terzaghi Lecture.
The Karl Terzaghi Lecture is awarded, upon the recommendation of the Board of Governors of the Geo-Institute, to a distinguished engineer who will deliver the Terzaghi Lecture at an appropriate meeting of the Society.