School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences


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  • Wonjin Yun

    Wonjin Yun

    Ph.D. Student in Energy Resources Engineering

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsPolymer flood is the one of the EOR (enhanced oil recovery) method to control the mobility ratio between displaced and displacing fluids. Improved mobility ratio by the polymer flood overcomes gravity overriding, viscous fingering, and channeling; hence, enhancing oil recovery. Significant mechanisms attributed to EOR in polymer flooding has not been fully understood because an in-situ rheology of polymer become more complex in geochemically heterogeneous porous media where polymer-related non-linear effects including viscoelasticity, degradation, and mechanical entrapment exist.

    Therefore, my primary research project entails a contribution to the sparse body of knowledge on micro-pore scale fluid flow in geochemically heterogeneous porous media. To achieve the goal, my research is part of cutting-edge efforts to develop an advanced platform and methodology enabling the real-time monitoring of fluid dynamics. In addition, a finite-volume toolbox OpenFOAM, open source CFD solver, has been used to simulate non-linear effects in the flow of viscoelastic fluids (shear-thinning behavior) through porous media.

  • Inessa Yurchenko

    Inessa Yurchenko

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Geological Sciences

    BioI joined the Department of Geological Sciences as a Ph.D. student in September 2012 and became a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in September 2017. I am currently affiliated with Basin and Petroleum System Modeling Group (BPSM) and a member of several student chapters and organizations on campus.

    I am using integrated multidisciplinary approach for unraveling geohistories and paleoenvironments of sedimentary basins and petroleum systems, focusing on the research questions, rather than the tools used. Most of my projects incorporate field observations, subsurface data interpretation, and laboratory work with numerical data analysis.

    My Ph.D. work in Arctic Alaska was focused on stratigraphic and depositional controls on source rock heterogeneity and composition of expelled petroleum in the Triassic Shublik Formation. My ongoing research has been focusing on oceanic anoxic events (OAEs) and how their paleoenvironmental changes impact sedimentological records in different parts of the globe (Texas, Colorado, Italy). This work aims to quantify lithological and geochemical variability within a given event, link environmental change with molecular fossil record, and compare regional and global controls.

  • Christopher Zahasky

    Christopher Zahasky

    Ph.D. Student in Energy Resources Engineering

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsReservoir engineering has long benefited from methods and technology developed in other fields of science and medicine. The proliferation of X-ray Computed Tomography, developed for medical imaging, led to incredible advancements in our understanding of single and multiphase flow in natural rocks. Positron Emission Tomography (PET), another medical imaging technique, has the potential to further advance our understanding of pore-scale flow processes. The goal of my work is to apply PET imaging techniques to better understand specific processes such as relative permeability in natural fractures and capillary heterogeneity in reservoir rocks. Initial experiments indicate that quantitative data analysis of PET imaging can be used to measure fracture aperture in naturally fractured caprock materials and can be used to measure time-dependent matrix diffusion of injected tracer. Future work will focus on method development and experimental measurements of multiphase flow in naturally fractures. Building on this work, PET will then be applied to imaging wetting and nonwetting phase flow behavior in multiphase flow experiments in reservoir rocks. Understanding the physics of these systems is vital for improving the confidence in the long term storage security of geologically stored carbon dioxide.

  • Howard Zebker

    Howard Zebker

    Professor of Electrical Engineering and of Geophysics

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsResearch
    My students and I study the surfaces of Earth and planets using radar remote sensing methods. Our specialization is interferometric radar, or InSAR. InSAR is a technique to measure mm-scale surface deformation at fine resolution over wide areas, and much of our work follows from applying this technique to the study of earthquakes, volcanoes, and human-induced subsidence. We also address global environmental problems by tracking the movement of ice in the polar regions. whose ice mass balance affects sea level rise and global climate. We participate in NASA space missions such as Cassini, in which we now are examining the largest moon of Saturn, Titan, to try and deduce its composition and evolution. Our work includes experimental observation and modeling the measurements to best understand processes affecting the Earth and solar system. We use data acquired by spaceborne satellites and by large, ground-based radar telescopes to support our research.

    Teaching
    I teach courses related to remote sensing methods and applications, and how these methods can be used to study the world around us. At the undergraduate level, these include introductory remote sensing uses of the full electromagnetic spectrum to characterize Earth and planetary surfaces and atmospheres, and methods of digital image processing. I also teach a freshman and sophomore seminar course on natural hazards. At the graduate level, the courses are more specialized, including the math and physics of two-dimensional imaging systems, plus detailed ourses on imaging radar systems for geophysical applications.

    Professional Activities
    InSAR Review Board, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2006-present); editorial board, IEEE Proceedings (2005-present); NRC Earth Science and Applications from Space Panel on Solid Earth Hazards, Resources, and Dynamics (2005-present); Chair, Western North America InSAR (WInSAR) Consortium (2004-06); organizing committee, NASA/NSF/USGS InSAR working group; International Union of Radioscience (URSI) Board of Experts for Medal Evaluations (2004-05); National Astronomy and Ionospheric Center, Arecibo Observatory, Visiting Committee, (2002-04; chair, 2003-04); NASA Alaska SAR Facility users working group (2000-present); associate editor, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing (1998-present); fellow, IEEE (1998)