ASCE has honored Jorge G. Zornberg, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, with the 2024 Ralph B. Peck Award for lessons learned from case histories on roadways founded on expansive clay subgrades, addressing failures and innovating solutions that involve geosynthetics. 

Zornberg's papers provide unique insight through carefully researched case histories that significantly widen the portfolio of options to remediate an old yet persistent problem in geotechnical engineering: the distress in roadways associated with the presence of expansive clays. He and his research team are revolutionizing the roads we drive on in areas where subgrades involve expansive clays. And these are problems affecting large areas of our nation, as expansive clays impact the performance of roads across the entire central United States, including Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota. Under Zornberg's leadership, significant inroads have been made to address problems that are particularly relevant to these states, where the long-term performance of roadways is often dictated by “environmental loads” rather than by the “traffic loads” we typically consider in design.

Zornberg's research has continuously adapted and pushed the bar higher. As the demands and needs for reliable and sturdy road construction continue to evolve, his work continues to develop new foundations to drive on. The impacts of Zornberg's contributions to understanding the detrimental effects of expansive clays in roadways and to the mitigation of such effects using new approaches, such as geosynthetics, have provided major insights into a long overdue problem in geotechnical engineering, namely, the distresses caused by expansive clays in our transportation and geo-infrastructure systems. Central to the contributions are his carefully researched case histories, which epitomize the legacy of Prof. Ralph Peck.

The Ralph B. Peck Award is presented for outstanding contributions to the geotechnical engineering profession through the publication of a thoughtful, carefully researched case history or histories, or the publication of recommended practices or design methodologies based on the evaluation of case histories.