Short Course Registration

Materials Tested

Interface Friction


Geotechnical Testing

Unsaturated Soil


Durability Testing

SAME-DAY Seam Testing

Recycled Plastics


TRI's geosynthetics staff are heavily involved with standards development and technology transfer within this growing industry. We are familiar with all classifications of products, which include hybrids of natural and synthetic materials and many new products which are being introduced each year. Far more than a testing lab, we are well known throughout the industry as a source of diverse technical services with uncompromising quality and commitment to excellence. TRI senior staff are active in industry symposia and technical organizations such as the International Geosynthetics Society and the Geosynthetics Research Institute and frequently publish in the technical and scientific literature. Several of TRI staff are members of ASTM Committee D35 and ISO Technical Committee 221 on geosynthetics.

This section describes qualifications of the management and technical support team assembled to support research and testing projects in geosynthetics technology.

Vice President & Division Manager: Mr. Sam R. Allen

Mr. Allen is an experienced professional with a background in chemical and materials engineering, with specialization in the field of polymer testing and geosynthetics. He began his career in the geotechnical and construction materials testing field and has broadened the scope of his involvement in environmental engineering to include geosynthetics technology with specialization in laboratory testing operations. Presently Mr.Allen serves as Division Manager for TRI's geosynthetics program, which includes routine conformance testing services and chemical compatibility testing as well as sponsored R&D supported by government and industry. He is a member of the American Society for Testing and Materials Committees D35 on Geosynthetic Materials and has recently been elected as first Vice-Chair of this organization. He currently serves on the Technical Advisory Board of Geotechnical Fabrics Report, a geosynthetics industry trade journal. In addition, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Geosynthetics Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Finally, Mr.Allen serves as the Convevor of Working Group 5 on durability within ISO TC221.

email Sam Allen

Principal Scientist: Mr. Richard (Rick) W. Thomas

Mr. Thomas is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of polymer science and geosynthetics technologies. Rick serves as the Principal Scientist for TRI providing internal and external technical consulting and R&D project management.

Rick's background includes early work at TRI serving as a Senior Scientist and Program Manager. Rick later joined National Seal Company as Manager of Technical Services. During Rick's tenure at National Seal Company, he served as Principal Investigator on several R&D projects including enhancement of product durability and test method development. Rick has developed expertise in the areas of polyurethane elastomers, adhesives, thermal analysis, processing, geosynthetic seaming and failure analysis/materials forensics. His most recent contributions have been in the area of recycled polyethylene for plastic pipe. He has authored or co-authored 65 technical papers, 43 of them in geosynthetics. He is a member of ASTM Committees D-20 (Plastics) and F-17 (Plastic Pipe), the Society of Plastic Engineers (SPE) and is the TRI representative to the Plastic Pipe Institute (PPI).

email Richard Thomas

Director: Mr. John M. Allen, P.E.

John has served as the director of the geosynthetic interaction and geotechnical laboratory since 2005. He has a bachelor of science in Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University and a Master’s of Science in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He has worked on landfill liner and compacted clay CQA projects in North and South America. He is directly responsible for over seeing the interface friction testing for over 190 different landfill projects every year. Currently he is serving as task group chairman for ASTM D 6243 on GCL internal and interface shear strength.

email John Allen

Senior Engineer: Mr. C. Joel Sprague, P.E.

Mr. Sprague is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of geosynthetic engineering design and product development. Joel serves as Senior Engineer for TRI providing internal technical consulting and performance testing and design review project management. In addition, Joel contributes heavily to TRI's training services.

Joel's background includes early work at Hoechst Celanese Corporation (HCC) where he served as Senior Project Engineer for six years. While at HCC, Joel worked with design firms and agencies on the appropriate design of soil reinforcement and erosion control projects using geosynthetics. In addition, he directed product research and development. After leaving HCC, Joel spent time as the Manager of Engineering Services for the Nicolon Corporation. In this position, Joel directed geosynthetic engineering/technical support activities. In addition, he represented Nicolon in standards development and professional organizations.

email Joel Sprague

Jacque Dettman - Business Development Manager

Ms. Dettman is the Business Development Manager of TRI/Environmental, Inc. (TRI) Geosynthetics Services, where she serves as the technical and business “front” of construction related materials verification projects.  In this role, Ms. Dettman assists clients in specification reviews, budget planning and technical response. 

Ms. Dettman has worked in the geoenvironmental industry for over fifteen years, originally for Poly America (Poly-Flex Division) as the Western Division Sales Manager where she worked in concert with Owners, Engineers, Contractors and Installers. She later joined Golder Associates in various management and business development roles, and then on to Jacobs Engineers in operations and project management.  These experiences significantly benefit TRI clients as she is accomplished in both the best, and the most challenging, industry technical traditions and project communication customs, assisting clients through detail oriented plans.   Jacque also lends her considerable expertise to TRI’s well recognized education and short course offerings, helping clients stay up-to-date with regard to still evolving geosynthetics technologies.

email Jacque Dettman

Geosynthetic Special Projects Manager: Mr. Jarrett Nelson

Mr. Nelson serves as the Special Projects Manager for the Geosynthetics Division. In this role, Jarrett manages many testing programs including: Conventional Creep/Stress Rupture, Stepped Isothermal (SIM), Erosion Control, Installation Damage, and Asphalt and Base reinforcement. Jarrett has been with TRI for over five years and is intimately familiar with over one hundred geosynthetics testing procedures, their function and issues specific to test control. Jarrett is well versed in geosynthetics materials, their subtle and unique qualities, and the many laboratory quality procedures used to assure their appropriate testing and evaluation.

email Jarret Nelson

Geosynthetics Project Manager: Ms. Melissa Hunter

Ms. Hunter has over eight years experience in TRI's Geosynthetics Division. As Project Manager, Melissa serves as a liaison between the laboratory and our many sponsors. Melissa is responsible for the timely completion of all Division projects involving numerous individual testing programs and client deliverables. Melissa provides report generation, project communications and invoicing/accounting services. Melissa also manages TRI short course marketing and registration efforts. Melissa's wealth of experience and excellent service record is well established.

email Melissa Hunter

Geosynthetics Project Manager: Ms.Jennifer Tenney

Having worked with Golder Inc. for several years, Ms. Tenney joined TRI in 2004 and has performed Project Management services for a variety of geosynthetic construction projects. As Project Manager, Jennifer serves as a liaison between the laboratory and our many sponsors, assuring the timely completion of all Division projects involving numerous individual testing programs and client deliverables. Jennifer provides report generation, project communications and invoicing/accounting services.

email Jennifer Tenney