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Special Sessions

Monday, March 27

8:00 am – 9:00 am

Keynote - Driving Scientific Discovery and Extraordinary Benefit to Humanity

Laurie Leshin, Director of JPL
Dr. Laurie Leshin, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since May 2022, is a distinguished geochemist and space scientist with extensive leadership experience in academia and government, including senior NASA positions.

Leshin was president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 2014 to 2022 and previously served as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Science dean. At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center from 2005 to 2008, she served as director of science, then deputy director for science and technology, leading strategy, planning, and implementation of more than 50 Earth and space flight projects. In 2010, Leshin became deputy associate administrator of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, overseeing future human spaceflight.

Her numerous honors include NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal and Distinguished Public Service Medal, and the Meteoritical Society’s Nier Prize for outstanding research by a scientist under the age of 35. The International Astronomical Union named asteroid 4922 Leshin to honor her planetary science contributions. Leshin advised President George W. Bush on space policy, and Barack Obama appointed her to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum advisory board. Leshin holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Arizona State University, and master’s and doctoral degrees in geochemistry from Caltech.

Leshin is the first woman to serve as JPL director, a role that also includes serving as Vice President at Caltech, which manages JPL for NASA. Leshin is also a Bren Professor of Geochemistry and Planetary Science at Caltech and will continue as co-investigator for two instruments on NASA's Mars Curiosity rover

9:00 am – 10:00 am


  • Getting Art into Engineering - Jay McKelvey, Earth Engineering
  • E2SCALA: Building a Transnational Alliance to Reduce Seismic Risk in Latin America and the Caribbean - Ashly Cabas, North Carolina State University

5:00 pm – 5:30 pm


  • The Risks and Opportunities of Artificial Intelligence - Nick Machairas, Haley and Aldrich
  • Geotechnical Forensics: Building Your Toolbox - Taki Chrysovergis, SPC Engineering

Tuesday, March 28

8:00 am – 9:00 am

CEO Panel Discussion - Laying the Foundation for Critical Infrastructure

Facilitator: Yoga Chandran, Senior Vice President, HNTB
Moderator: Michael Kraman, Senior Vice President, HNTB
Panelists: Brian Kelly, CEO - California High Speed Rail; Tony Tavares, Director – Caltrans; Sharon Gookin, Deputy CEO – LA Metro; Terri Mestas, Deputy CEO – Los Angeles World Airports
Marty Adams, CEO – Los Angeles Dept of Water and Power

The session will cover planned infrastructure improvements in California. Each agency CEO will present their focus towards building and improving infrastructure to prepare for planned growth for the next millennial, with the focus on preparing for the upcoming 2028 Olympics and other key events in Los Angeles and California. 

9:00 am – 10:00 am


  • Mine – the – Data: Future of Geotechnical Engineering - Tugce Baser, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
  • Lifelines and Geo-Hazards - Craig Davis, Consultant
  • Mudpies, Miso, and Mohr-Coulomb: the Making of a Geotechnical Cook - Matt Evans, Oregon State University

Wednesday, March 29

8:00 am – 8:30 am

Keynote - 4D Geoprofessional Career-Building: Developing You, Your Firm, Others, and the Industry

Lindsey Angell, P.E.Assistant Vice President at WSP
Lindsey Angell is the Outreach Committee Chair of CalGeo, The California Geotechnical Engineering Association. She will share practical strategies for leveraging involvement with your engineering association to better yourself, elevate your firm, develop students and young professionals, and better the geoprofessional industry. She will address how to use your engineering association to support in all areas affecting your firm: recruiting and training, influencing public policies, disseminating new research and technologies, promoting industry standards, and more.

9:00 am – 10:00 am

Panel Discussion - Turkey-Syria Earthquakes: A Disaster through Interdisciplinary Lenses

Moderator: Lucky Nagarajan, Bauer Foundations Corp
Panelists: Tugce Baser, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Ozgun Numanoglu, Schnabel Engineering; Ece Eseller-Bayat, Istanbul Technical University; Pelin Özener, Yildiz Technical University;    J. David Frost, Georgia Institute of Technology; Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance Association; N. Emel Ganapati, Florida International University; Ayşe Hortacsu, Applied Technology Council; Earthquake Engineering Research Institute

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm


  • Intersections: A Strategy for Increasing Seismic Infrastructure Resilience - Ken Hudnut, US Geological Survey
  • TBD
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