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Chairman’s Message to Alumni and Friends

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February, 2010

Dear Friends:

Greetings from the Department of Energy Resources Engineering! It is a pleasure for me to update you on our activities and accomplishments for 2009.

The number of ERE students continues to increase, and with this expansion we are seeing a wider range of backgrounds, interests and research topics. The department is now home to over 50 PhD students, 12 post-doctoral researchers, over 30 MS students, and 13 (declared) BS students. There are, in addition, a number of visiting researchers and students from other departments working with ERE faculty. MS and PhD students can pursue degrees in either Energy Resources Engineering or Petroleum Engineering; our current population is evenly divided between ERE and PE. All of the BS students are working toward ERE degrees.

There were a few noteworthy transitions in ERE in 2009. After 27 extremely productive years of research, teaching and service, Khalid Aziz officially retired this year. He is now a very active professor emeritus, spending half his time in the ERE department. This gives Khalid the opportunity to pursue his other interests, most notably his involvement in the development of the new School of Science and Engineering at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in Pakistan, where Khalid serves on the Advisory Board. Khalid also became a member of the SPE Legion of Honor after 50 years of SPE membership.

This year the department hired Adam Brandt as an acting assistant professor. Adam recently completed his PhD in Energy and Resources at UC Berkeley. Adam’s research interests are in the areas of systems-level optimization of energy systems and assessment of environmental impacts of energy systems. This quarter he is teaching a new class called “Optimization of energy systems.” Jim Lambers, who was an acting assistant professor in ERE from 2006-2009, has moved to a tenure-line position at University of Southern Mississippi in the Department of Mathematics. We appreciate Jim’s contributions to the department and wish him well in his new endeavors.

ERE faculty members have been active and well recognized in 2009. Margot Gerritsen was awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor. This is an historic accomplishment, as Margot is the first woman to be tenured in the history of the ERE (or PE) department. Her promotion reflects her important research contributions within the general areas of reservoir simulation and computational mathematics, her first-rate teaching, and her wide range of other energy-related activities.

As I reported last year, Lynn Orr is now the director of the Precourt Institute for Energy - a university-wide institute that will pursue research on a range of energy issues. The institute is now up and running and recently named three ERE faculty, Sally Benson, Roland Horne, and Lynn Orr, as senior fellows. Roland Horne has been on the 2009-2010 SPE Distinguished Lecturer circuit, speaking on the topic of analyzing data from permanent downhole gauges. Sally Benson, who is now the director of GCEP (Global Climate and Energy Project), won the 2009 Michel T. Halbouty Distinguished Lecture Award from the Geological Society of America, the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) American Pacesetter Award, and was selected to be a Stanford Fellow. Sally is also now a member of the Board of Directors of the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Jef Caers organized and chaired IAMG 2009, the conference of the International Association of Mathematical Geosciences, which was held this summer at Stanford. The conference was a great success and included over 200 participants. The 25 technical sessions covered a variety of topics on mathematics and statistics applied to Earth, energy and environmental problems. Cambridge University Press released the second edition of the highly regarded Rock Physics Handbook by Tapan Mukerji (ERE), Gary Mavko (Geophysics) and Jack Dvorkin (Geophysics). Recently Tapan has been working closely with visiting professor Juan Fernandez-Martinez from University of Oviedo, Spain, on topics related to optimization and uncertainty quantification in reservoir modeling. Tony Kovscek was selected to be the Executive Editor of SPE Journal, which is SPE’s primary research publication.

Our students continue to win awards for their research and classroom accomplishments. In the 2009 SPE Western Regional Student Paper Contest, Marco Cardoso (now at Petrobras) and Hui Zhou (now at ConocoPhillips) won first and second place respectively in the PhD level competition. Ernar Sagatov won first place in the BS level competition. It has been some time since we’ve had a participant at the BS level, so it was heartening to see Ernar win this category. Marco Cardoso was again successful at the SPE International Student Paper Contest, where he also won first place. Mehrdad Honarkhah won first place in the Student Paper Contest at IAMG 2009 (which had over 20 student paper submissions). Ekin Ozdogan won the Outstanding Poster Award at the 26th Annual International Pittsburgh Coal Conference. Former student Pallav Sarma (now at Chevron) and his thesis advisors (Khalid Aziz and Lou Durlofsky) received the Best Paper Award from the journal Mathematical Geosciences for their 2008 paper “Kernel principal component analysis for efficient, differentiable parameterization of multipoint geostatistics.” Wenjuan Lin won the 2009 Ramey Award, which is the departmental award given annually to the best overall PhD student. Keith Mosher’s group tied for first place in the Final Group Project at the 2009 SSUN Energy Summer School. Recent Miller Awards (based mostly on grades) were won by Bo Chen, Jincong He and Obi Isebor, while Saman Aryana won the School of Earth Sciences Teaching Assistant Award. The 2009 Brigham Award, which honors the best departmental citizen, was won by Karyn Borella, our Student Services Administrator.

The ERE faculty and I hope to see you at SPE meetings and other events over the course of the year. In the meantime, please visit the department website to follow our latest news, and please feel free to visit the department if you are in the Stanford area.


Louis J. Durlofsky
Professor and Chairman

Related Sites: School of Earth Sciences, Energy Resources Engineering 
Submitted on Feb 15, 2010