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Prestigious honour for groundbreaking work

Queen’s professor Kerry Rowe elected to National Academy of Engineering in the United States.

Queen’s University professor Kerry Rowe’s research has garnered him countless awards and recognition over the past 30 years, but a few honours stand out for him. Included in that group is his recent election to the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Kerry Rowe has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

“This is one of the biggest deals in my professional career,” says Dr. Rowe. “It ranks up there with election to the Royal Society (UK) in terms of importance.”

He was elected to The Royal Society in 2013 as the only Canadian civil engineer. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in the United Kingdom, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Of the more than 2,200 elected NAE members, only 231 come from outside the United States, including about 20 Canadians. Dr. Rowe is one of only two civil engineers listed as foreign members.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is one of the highest international honours for an engineer, says Dr. Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). The most distinguished Canadian civil engineer of his generation, this honour is a testament to the fundamental importance and impact of Dr. Rowe’s research.

Dr. Rowe is a pioneer in geosynthetics (synthetic products used to stabilize terrain). One area of his research focuses on assessing the effectiveness of plastic liners and geosynthetic clay liners in limiting contamination from mining operations and waste disposal facilities.

His work ranges from computer modelling to small-scale laboratory tests to examining a full-scale system under controlled conditions and full-scale field monitoring from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

“My initial work was in landfills and the research we have done has affected regulations and the design and construction of landfills around the world,” says Dr. Rowe. “This work, conducted by a team which includes colleagues and students past and present, has made a difference and this is what is being recognized by my election as a foreign member of NAE; it is recognition of the entire team.”

Now he is turning his research focus to mining, an area where liners are being widely used in the extraction of minerals by the “heap leach” process and increasingly being used to minimize the environmental impact in tailings storage facilities.

“Mining generates a large amount of waste that needs to be disposed of properly and improving our ability to provide better environmental protection in a cost effective manner is our next challenge,” he says.

To learn more about the US National Academy of Engineering visit the website.