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UW Ph.D. Student Wins International Research Paper Competition

October 17, 2019
woman in a lab
UW Ph.D. student Elizabeth Barsotti works in the Center of Innovation for Flow Through Porous Media. She took first place in the 2019 International Student Paper Contest hosted by the Society of Petroleum Engineers. (UW Photo)

University of Wyoming petroleum engineering doctoral student Elizabeth Barsotti won first place in the 2019 International Student Paper Contest hosted by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE).

It’s the second year in a row that a member of the research team of Wyoming Excellence Chair in Petroleum Engineering Mohammad Piri has received the prestigious honor.

Barsotti, who graduated from high school in Cheyenne, faced competition from international and national universities such as Stanford, Texas A&M, Louisiana State University and the University of Calgary.

To compete at the international level, Barsotti had to first receive first place at the regional level. SPE divides the world into 14 regions for this competition. Barsotti competed against contenders from the Rocky Mountain region before competing internationally. It’s the fourth straight year that a member of Piri’s team won the regional competition.

Regional winners then were awarded with a sponsored trip to the championship at SPE’s Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Calgary, Canada. Contenders prepared a paper on a research project and presented it the day of the competition.

Barsotti’s paper is titled “Capillary Condensation in Shale: A Narrative Review.” The paper reviews several key discoveries that she has made throughout the course of her doctoral studies in Piri’s lab at the Center of Innovation for Flow Through Porous Media (COIFPM) regarding fluid phase behavior in shale reservoirs.

In particular, her work proves that shale gas, which was previously hypothesized to exist as a vapor in the subsurface, may actually be stored as a liquid due to confinement in the small pores characteristic of such reservoirs. Practically, this work may improve reserves estimates, reservoir modeling and core analysis in shale reservoirs. In fact, preliminary calculations indicate that accounting for this phase behavior could increase reserves estimates by several fold.

Last year’s winner of the International Student Paper Contest was fellow UW petroleum engineering doctoral student Vahideh Mirchi, whose paper was titled “Pore-scale Investigation of the Effect of Surfactant on Fluid Occupancies during Low-salinity Waterflooding in Oil-wet Carbonates.”

Regarding her honor and the back-to-back wins for Piri’s team, Barsotti says, “I am grateful to Dr. Piri for encouraging me to participate in the SPE student paper contest and to my colleagues at the COIFPM for cheering me on. I think the judges’ decisions to name me the winner of this year’s competition, and Vahideh the winner of last year’s competition, highlight the importance of the work that we are doing at the COIFPM, both to the petroleum industry and to the broader scientific community. I am very proud and grateful to be a part of this championship legacy.”

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.”

For more information about the SPE student paper contest, visit www.spe.org/students/contest.php.

Contact Us

Institutional Communications

Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137

Laramie

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2929

Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)

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