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G.A. Leonards Lecture and PGS Workshop

Professor Steven Kramer of the University of Washington delivered the 17th Leonards Lecture, "Performance-Based Geotechnical Seismic Design," on April 26th. The PGS Workshop, with a theme of "Geotechnics of Natural Hazards," was held in conjunction with the lecture.

The 17th edition of the Purdue Geotechnical Workshop and 16th G.A. Leonards Lecture took place on Friday, April 26, 2019 on the Purdue campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. The lecture has been given each year since 2003 in honor of Professor G.A. Leonards, a Purdue faculty member from 1946 to the mid-1990s and a great of the geotechnical engineering profession. The 2019 PGS workshop was entitled "Geotechnics of Natural Hazards," a theme inspired by the topic of the lecture. The 17th G.A. Leonards Lecture, "Performance-Based Geotechnical Seismic Design," was delivered by Professor Steven Kramer of the University of Washington. The Purdue Geotechnical Society thanks Prof. Kramer for agreeing to present the Leonards Lecture and for sharing with us his unique expertise.

More information can be found at or by contacting Philippe Bourdeau at

The Leonards Lecture was established in 2003 in honor of Professor Gerald A. Leonards, one of the giants of the geotechnical engineering profession.

Professor Gerald A. Leonards was born on April, 29, 1921 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He obtained his BSCE at McGill University in 1943 and received both MSCE and PhD from Purdue in 1948 and 1952, respectively. He was a faculty member at Purdue from 1952 to 1991, when he was named Professor Emeritus.

Professor Leonards' research interests were very wide and he made pioneering contributions to knowledge on strength and compressibility of compacted clay soils, strength and consolidation of natural deposits, cracking of earth dams, frost action, analysis of buried conduits, pile foundations, stability of slopes and embankments on soft clays, stress-deformation and liquefaction of sand, and methodologies for investigating failures. He published extensively nationally and internationally. His 1962 book on "Foundation Engineering" quickly became a standard reference worldwide.

Throughout his career, Dr. Leonards' insight and expertise was sought on earthwork and foundation projects all over the world, a number of which involved the investigation of failures. He was appointed as the only non-European to sit on an official government commission in Italy to investigate ways to stabilize the Tower of Pisa.

Over his career Dr. Leonards received numerous awards from professional societies. In 1980 he was honored by the American Society of Civil Engineers by being asked to present the Terzaghi Lecture and also received the Terzaghi Award in 1989. In 1988 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

From the students' perspective, "GAL" was a dedicated professor and researcher, who never missed an opportunity to learn more about his chosen field and to share his views on new developments. His influence continues to be felt through the impact he had on his students and colleagues.

Adapted from text by V.P. Drnevich for Geotech Hall of Fame Web Site

Previous G.A. Leonards Lecturers
1st Leonards Lecture (May 22, 2003) – Milton Harr
2nd Leonards Lecture (May 11, 2004) – Victor Milligan
3rd Leonards Lecture (May 16, 2005) – Robert Holtz
4th Leonards Lecture (March 31, 2006) – Michele Jamiolkowski
5th Leonards Lecture (May 7, 2007) – Suzanne Lacasse
6th Leonards Lecture (April 18, 2008) – Jean-Lou Chameau
7th Leonards Lecture (April 24, 2009) – Bernard Amadei
8th Leonards Lecture (May 1, 2010) – Richard D. Woods
9th Leonards Lecture (April 8, 2011) – Herbert Einstein
10th Leonards Lecture (April 13, 2012) – Carlos Santamarina
11th Leonards Lecture (April 19, 2013) – Craig Benson
12th Leonards Lecture (April 26, 2014) – Lyesse Laloui
13th Leonards Lecture (April 24, 2015) – Richard E. Goodman
14th Leonards Lecture (April 15, 2016) – J. David Frost
15th Leonards Lecture (April 21, 2017) – Patricia J. Culligan
16th Leonards Lecture (April 27, 2018) – Eduardo Alonso, Ph.D.