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UW Ph.D. Student Wins International Paper Contest

October 25, 2018
a woman
Vahideh Mirchi

University of Wyoming petroleum engineering doctoral student Vahideh Mirchi won first place in the 2018 International Student Paper Contest hosted by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE).

Contestants from around the world competed for the prestigious award. Iran-native Mirchi faced competition from international colleges and also from well-known U.S. colleges, such as Texas A&M University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Southern California and Louisiana State University.

To compete at the international level, Mirchi had to first receive first place at the regional level. SPE divided the world into 14 regions for this competition. Mirchi competed against contenders from the Rocky Mountain region before competing internationally.

Regional winners were then awarded with a sponsored trip to the championship held at SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) in Dallas, Texas, to compete at the national level. Contenders prepared a paper on a research project and presented it the day of the competition.

Mirchi’s paper is titled “Pore-scale Investigation of the Effect of Surfactant on Fluid Occupancies during Low-salinity Waterflooding in Oil-wet Carbonates.” She presented the results of various micro-scale experiments involving flow through porous media using different wetting fluid systems on a set of miniature oil-wet carbonate core samples.

“I investigated the recovery mechanisms of low-salinity surfactant flooding using a micro-CT scanner and directly visualized the pore fluid occupancies at the pore scale,” Mirchi says. “The complexity of low-salinity surfactant waterflooding process and the lack of consensus on the responsible pore-level displacement mechanisms drove the focus of my study in this direction. My study helps to better understand the pore-scale fluid behaviors and their impact on oil recovery mechanisms.”

SPE serves more than 73,000 student members globally. The mission of SPE is to “collect, disseminate and exchange technical knowledge concerning the exploration, development and production of oil and gas resources, and related technologies for the public benefit.”

The student paper contest, hosted by SP,E allows students the opportunity to present their research at the international level.

For more information about the SPE student paper contest, visit

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