ASCE has honored Sandra L. Houston, Ph.D., D.GE, M.ASCE, with the 2017 Karl Terzaghi Award for her contributions to theory and practice in unsaturated soil mechanics.
Houston’s work on the design of foundations under unsaturated conditions – for example, foundation design in expansive and collapsible soils – is widely used by practicing engineers. She has also assisted on the fundamental aspects of unsaturated soil behavior and on moisture transport in unsaturated soils.
Her research in the areas of unsaturated expansive soils, collapsible soils, geotechnical instrumentation, and pavement-geotechnics-related improvement studies led to many innovative research solutions, including techniques for better characterization of expansive and collapsible soils as well as design of foundations in problematic soil environments. She is also at the forefront of the development of instrumentation-related innovations that led to the use of digital image-based strain measurements as well as SWCC measurements and flow through unsaturated soils.
Houston’s research has not only advanced the fundamental understanding of problems but also improved the practical solutions for reducing infrastructure distress and damages on expansive and collapsible soils.
The Karl Terzaghi Award is presented for outstanding contributions to knowledge in the fields of soil mechanics, subsurface and earthwork engineering, and subsurface and earthwork construction.