New EME head: Department best positioned to lead ‘energy university’ push

David Kubarek
August 16, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Sanjay Srinivasan, the newly appointed head of the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering (EME), said he’s looking forward to helping “world-class” faculty further extend Penn State’s reputation as “the energy university.”

President Eric Barron in 2015 announced a University-wide effort to be at the forefront of energy security and independence, and Srinivasan said his department is well-suited to address these global issues and lead the University’s efforts.

“Whether it be the development of environmentally sustainable technologies for natural resource extraction or the development of systems engineering concepts pertaining to production of energy from alternate sources, our department is uniquely positioned to make significant impact by truly embedding sustainability as a core value in all facets of energy and mineral engineering,” Srinivasan said. “We have the expertise and know-how to study the environmental impact, assess the risks, perform systems-level optimization, conduct sophisticated economic analysis of decisions, and propose policies that take into account the engineering as well as the social aspects of resource extraction and utilization.”

Toward that goal, Srinivasan wants to enhance the research portfolio of the department and strengthen the research infrastructure by offering incentives for interdisciplinary research and attracting funds for endowments and seed grants to drive innovative research. He also has hopes that the planned renovations to the Hosler Building will progress quickly in support of the department’s vision of becoming a world leader in all aspects of energy and mineral engineering and science.

He wants to improve on the holistic approach to energy education that the department is known for by advancing a sustainable teaching portfolio that provides top-rated education to all students.

He said that requires coming up with strategies to deliver courses that broadly cover different aspects of energy and mineral engineering and sciences while meeting curriculum requirements of constituent programs, more efficiently allocating teaching resources, and introducing new teaching protocols that enhance student experiences.

“I want to promote a systems-level understanding of processes and technologies by offering capstone design courses that move students through the entire life cycle of system design and implementation and by expanding our graduate portfolio to include environmental stewardship as an integral aspect of our courses,” Srinivasan said. “Sustainability can be the grand theme around which we can integrate teaching and research across all the program and option areas in the department.”

By emphasizing faculty excellence and research opportunities, Srinivasan plans to recruit and retain top-notch undergraduate and graduate students.

“It takes serious commitment to bring faculty together to address critical social, scientific and technological challenges confronting our community and society,” Srinivasan said. “The excellence of the faculty in teaching and research and the absolute commitment that they exhibit toward furthering the educational experience of all students in the college and the University is an inspiration for me and has kindled the passion in me to give my absolute best in all my undertakings.”

Srinivasan is a professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering and holds the John and Willie Leone Family Chair in Energy and Mineral Engineering. His research interests are in spatial statistics, development of geostatistical techniques for data integration and modeling of complex geological systems, uncertainty quantification, and transfer of uncertainty to decision-making. He and his students develop techniques for monitoring the migration of the carbon dioxide plume during geologic sequestration, identifying sweet spots in unconventional plays by synthesizing information from multiple sources and at multiple scales, and investigating subsurface couplings that result in natural hazards such as sinkholes.

Srinivasan holds a bachelor of technology degree in petroleum engineering from the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, a master of science in petroleum engineering from the University of Southern California, and a doctorate in petroleum engineering from Stanford University. Prior to coming to Penn State in 2015, he was a professor in the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where he held the Frank Jessen Professorship in Petroleum Engineering. 

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Last Updated August 20, 2017