International award for renowned engineering geologist

Posted on November 08, 2019

Prof Louis van Rooy, a renowned engineering geologist from the Department of Geology at the University of Pretoria was recently awarded the 2019 Karl and Ruth Terzaghi Outstanding Mentor Award by the Board of Directors of the American Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists. He is the first awardee from outside America to receive this award.

He received the award in person at the AEG Annual Meeting held in Asheville, North Carolina from the President Dave Fenster. This Award recognises outstanding individuals for their achievements as mentors throughout their career who has made lifelong efforts in providing professional, ethical and technical mentoring for environmental and engineering geologists and gives special recognition to both members in academia, where mentoring is a natural part of their job, and those who have made extraordinary efforts in the workforce. The awardees must have a long history (at least 20 years) of mentoring environmental geologists, engineering geologists and/or students and must have demonstrated a level of integrity and ethics above reproach and consistent with AEG’s Principles of Ethical Behaviour.

AEG President Dave Fenster, Professor Louis van Rooy and Eldon Gath.

“This is the only award of its kind in the world and is therefore also a celebration of our African resilience, support from my colleagues both in the Department and local professionals, and the dedication and commitment of our students and their ultimate belief in me as a teacher and mentor. I was immensely proud to stand up for engineering geology in South Africa and receive the award in person in Asheville, North Carolina, after dodging hurricane Dorian on my way there. It is also international recognition of the quality of engineering geology at UP,” Prof Van Rooy said when asked about the significance of this award.

“The AEG is an American-based association with approximately 3 000 members of which only a handful belongs to the international chapter and to be the first recipient of the Karl and Ruth Terzaghi Outstanding Mentor Award from outside North America and specifically from Africa, is rather overwhelming. I cannot imagine a more appropriate token of appreciation of my nearly 34 years of teaching in engineering geology from the North American, and to a large extent the broader international, professional community,” Prof Van Rooy concluded.

Prof Van Rooy, an NRF c-2 rated researcher has successfully supervised or co-supervised 30 master’s and 10 PhD candidates and has authored and co-authored 17 journal articles and 6 full-length conference papers over past five years. He is a NRF C2 rated researcher.

He also proved his leadership qualities by being the Vice-President for Africa and council member of the International Association of Engineering Geology and the Environment from 2015 to 2018 as well as President of the South African Association of Engineering Geology and the Environment from 2017 to 2018. Prof Van Rooy is also a Fellow of the South African Association of Engineering Geology and the Environment.

Prof Van Rooy’s current research involves being part of a team in the applied geology section in the Department developing a fresh look at unsaturated fracture flow. His contribution is mainly towards understanding and describing the mechanical and geometrical properties of fractures in rock masses. Other ongoing research is the characterisation of the engineering geological properties of problem soils and rocks with recently completed projects on dolomite sinkholes, gypseous soils and influence of Karoo rock properties on possible fracking.

- Author Martie Meyer

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