Ayala named Fustos Family Professor in Energy and Mineral Engineering

Luis Ayala, professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering, has been named the inaugural William A. Fustos Family Professor in Energy and Mineral Engineering. The endowed professorship was established with a $1 million gift from William and Lindsey Fustos, both Penn State graduates.

“I’m honored to have been selected as the first William A. Fustos Family Professor in Energy and Mineral Engineering,” said Ayala. “This financial support will help my research group further our natural gas production and engineering research and help elevate Penn State as a leader in this area.”

Ayala’s research focuses on natural gas engineering, gas well performance, hydrocarbon phase behavior and advanced numerical modeling. His work addresses novel methods to understand the behavior of natural gas reservoirs in unconventional formations, and how those behaviors change as gas is produced. His team also investigates methods to optimize the production of natural gas, from extraction to storage to transportation. He has authored or co-authored more than 80 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals and proceedings.

“Luis is very deserving of this professorship. He has made numerous advances in different facets of natural gas engineering research, and this professorship will allow him to continue his excellence,” said Turgay Ertekin, head of the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering (EME) and George E. Trimble Chair in Earth and Mineral Sciences. “Mr. Fustos is a distinguished alumnus who has been a leader within the industry. His vision—that Penn State should be a pioneer in advancing the petroleum and natural gas engineering—is one we share here.”

After receiving degrees in chemical engineering and petroleum engineering from Universidad de Oriente, in Venezuela, Ayala came to Penn State for his graduate studies. He completed both a master of science and a doctorate in petroleum and natural gas engineering, and, shortly after, joined the Penn State EME faculty. In addition to serving as professor, he is the associate head for graduate education within the EME department and co-director of Penn State’s Unconventional Natural Resources Consortium. He has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ Wilson Award for Outstanding Teaching, the Society of Petroleum Engineers Outstanding Technical Editor Award and a presidential distinction for academic excellence from Venezuela.

William Fustos received a bachelor’s degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering in 1979. His wife, Lindsey, received a bachelor’s degree in history from Penn State in 1975. The two met while students and have been married for more than 30 years. They have three children, two of whom are Penn State alumni, and they live in the Pittsburgh area.

"Our family is very pleased that Luis has been selected to receive the Fustos Family Professorship in Energy and Mineral Engineering in the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering," said William Fustos. "His dedication both to petroleum engineering and to Penn State makes him the ideal recipient. His passion for teaching ensures that future Penn State engineers will get the same great start to their careers that was given to me many years ago by people like Dr. Drew Stahl and his many great colleagues in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. We congratulate Luis and wish him continued success in his career at Penn State.”

William Fustos has worked in the oil and gas industry for more than 30 years, first with Texaco as a reservoir engineer, and then with several independent oil companies. In 1994, he formed Fustos Energy Services, an engineering firm whose work included reservoir engineering consulting along with a contract well servicing business. In 1998, he joined East Resources as vice president of operations, and the company held more than 650,000 acres of Marcellus Shale rights in Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia. He serves as chair of the Corporate Relations Subcommittee the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ Development Council.

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Last Updated March 28, 2016