Skip navigation

2017 PGS Workshop & 14th G.A. Leonards Lecture

April 21, 2017 - 4:30 p.m.
Purdue University, Krannert Auditorium, West Lafayette, IN

Climate Change: Impacts and Challenges for Geotechnical Engineers

Video of Lecture | Lecture Slides

Patricia Culligan

Patricia J. Culligan, Ph.D., CEng, M.ASCE

Robert, A. W. and Christine S. Carlton Professor of Civil Engineering
Columbia University

From rising sea-levels to changing weather patterns, the impacts of climate change are projected to have significant effects in the upcoming decades. As a result, management of climate change, from the implementation of mitigation measures to the design of adaptation strategies, is becoming increasingly important. For Geotechnical Engineers, new challenges will arise as a result of climate change impacts on existing infrastructure, as well as the performance needs of future infrastructure. In addition, changing groundwater levels and subsurface flow patterns will pose new problems, as will climate mitigation strategies, including the global movement toward a low carbon economy.

This lecture will first provide examples of climate change impacts that are likely to influence geotechnical engineering practice, together with the challenges such impacts pose. New research needs associated with these challenges will also be described. An example of a climate adaptation strategy, which involves an ambitious engineered green infrastructure program that is underway in New York City, will then be presented. This program involves collaboration between government agencies, geotechnical engineering practitioners, researchers and community groups. Design, monitoring and modeling results from the program will be summarized, as will lessons learned and future needs. The program is an example of an emerging class of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies that relies on local, or neighborhood level, infrastructure interventions. The final part of the lecture will deal with the implications of this new approach to the future of geotechnical engineering practice, research and training

Introduction by Marika Santagata, Purdue University

Professor Patricia J. Culligan: At Columbia University, where she serves as the Founding Associate Director of Columbia University’s Data Science Institute and the Co-Director of the Earth Institute’s Urban Design Lab. Dr. Culligan’s expertise lies in the field of geo-environmental engineering, with an emphasis on water resource management and issues related to urban and environmental sustainability. Her research group is currently active in investigating the opportunities for green infrastructure, social networks and advanced measurement & sensing technologies to improve the management of urban water, energy, and eco-system services in the face of climate change.

She has received numerous research and teaching awards for her academic contributions, including the National Science Foundation’s CAREER AWARD and Columbia University’s Presidential Teaching Award. She has also served on the Board of Governors of the Geo-Institute and the National Academies Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, and has chaired the National Academies Committee on Geological and Geotechnical Engineering. She is the author or co-author of more than 150 technical articles.

Professor Culligan received her MS from Leeds University, England and her MPhil and PhD from Cambridge University, England. She also holds a degree in Languages, Literature and Civilization from Université d’AixMarseille, France.

Presented in conjunction with the 15th Purdue Geotechnical Society Workshop - "Climate Change and Geotechnical Engineering"

2017 Workshop Program

PGS Group Photo 2017


Support for the PGS workshop and Leonards lecture is provided by the following sponsors:

PGS sponsors