Making a Difference
Some examples of teaching and research facilities supported by the Petroleum Investments Funds:
Stanford Center for Computational Earth and Environmental Science (CEES): The Center is a partnership between the School of Earth Sciences, the Computer Systems Laboratory, private industry, and government. It is distinguished by the integration of Earth science and computer science, each driving the development of the other. This unique collaboration builds capacity in computational methods for the Earth and environmental sciences and enables new grow areas in the School of Earth Sciences where computational activities already exist. The complementary goal of CEES is to engage computer scientists and architects to design software and hardware better suited for geoscience problems.
The Mitchell Computer Teaching Cluster: Twenty new Dell Optiplex computers, funded in part by support from the Petroleum Investments Funds, offer applications like Matlab, ArcGIS, Visual Studio, COMSOL, and MS Office. The facility is used for class meetings, workshops, and as a drop-in computer lab at any hour of the day for undergraduate and graduate students.
Scott Fendorf (middle) at work with two students in his lab: Dr. Fendorf, Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Earth System Science, works on the transport of trace elements through soils. Understanding the movement of inorganic contaminants through soils is a fundamental part of understanding-and subsequently mitigating-the impact of contaminants on plants and animals. Using sophisticated spectroscopic techniques, Dr. Fendorf studies the chemistry of the interactions of inorganic contaminants with water and mineral surfaces.
Lou Durlofsky: Dr. Louis Durlofsky, Professor and Chair of the Department of Energy Resources Engineering, deals with a central problem in the mathematical representation of flow in natural porous media, whether aquifers or oil and gas reservoirs. These subsurface flow systems show astonishing variability, leaving hydrologists and reservoir engineers with the problem of how to represent both the complex rock systems and the flow of several phases (gas, water, oil) through them. Dr. Durlofsky is a leader in developing better tools for predicting subsurface flow.
Jef Caers: Dr. Caers, Associate Professor of Energy Resources Engineering, is working to change the direction of the field of geostatistics, designing applications of multipoint statistical modeling to describe complex geological structures that make up aquifers and oil and gas reservoirs. He is a leading authority on extreme value statistics, the study of systems in which a few members of the statistical set dominate value (diamonds are an example). While the statistical approaches Dr. Caers is investigating have only just begun to be applied to subsurface flow systems, the flow behavior in aquifers and oil and gas reservoirs is often dominated by extremes of permeability and their spatial distribution. Dr. Caers' work offers the possibility of substantial progress in directions that are very different from the standard approaches used in petroleum geostatistics.