Challenger profiles 2020

Academic excellence combined with professional training in communication, project management, Indigenous engagement, and more.

Afeez Popoola

Afeez Popoola is working on his PhD in Rock physics and Geomechanics with Prof. Grasselli at the University of Toronto. He received a MSc in Geophysics (2014) from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals in Saudi Arabia. Between 2014-19, Afeez worked with Schlumberger Middle East as a Geophysicist, processing and interpreting VSP and borehole acoustic data. He returned to academia to expand his knowledge and problem solving skills. His current research interests include reservoir rock physics, geomechanics, acoustic emissions and data science. 

Isabel Plata

Isabel Plata is working on her PhD in Environmental Geochemistry with Prof. Mayer at the University of Calgary. She received her MSc (2018) in Environmental Geochemistry from the University of Alberta and her BSc Hon (2010) in Geology from the Universidad de Caldas, in Colombia. Isabel’s research focuses on the isotope characterization of flowback water from hydraulically fractured wells in the Province of Alberta. Isabel has 4 years’ work experience in mineral exploration with the Colombian Geological Survey and industry. During her MSc studies, Isable investigated microfiltration and ultrafiltration methods to reuse and recycle flowback water from the Duvernay Formation. In her spare time, Isabel enjoys being outdoors running, walking and hiking.

Mark Mlella

Mark Mlella is working on his PhD in Geophysics with Prof. Van Der Baan at the University of Alberta. He received his MSc in Geology (2019) at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and a BSc (2016) in Geosciences at Trinity University, in Texas. Mark’s research interests are in using machine learning for geophysical data interpretation. Mark is bilingual (English and Swahili) and is willing to relocate for the right position. He enjoys playing soccer, basketball, and dancing.

Nicholas Schumacher

Nicholas Schumacher is working on his MPP at the University of Calgary, while working as a research assistant for Prof. Winter in the School of Public Policy and an Editor for YYC Policy. His research interest is in environmental, economic, and energy policy. He received his BSc Hon in Biological Sciences, with a minor in Economics, also from the U.Calgary. Like many interdisciplinary folks, Nick has maintained an energy-sector focus while working through his degrees, including coursework in Petroleum Microbiology, North American Oil Economics and International Economics and Trade. In his free time, Nick enjoys running, skiing, and personal fitness.

Ana Ortega-Perez

Ana Ortega-Perez is working on her MSc in Geophysics with Prof Van Der Baan at the University of Alberta. She received a BSc (2018) in Geophysical Engineering from Juarez University, in Mexico. Ana’s current research interest is microseismic interpretation and DAS data analysis.

Bezawit Fekadu Haile

Bezawit Fekadu Haile is working on her PhD on Geomechanics at the University of Toronto with Prof. Grasselli. She received her M-Eng (2018) in Civil Engineering at Korea Advanced Institute of technology (KAIST), South Korea, with the Structural Analysis & Materials research group, and her B-Eng (2015) in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, graduating with Distinction. Beza’s research interest focuses on the multiscale properties of geotechnical and concrete materials, using numerical and microscale modelling techniques. Beza has been an assistant lecturer, research associate, and junior design engineer with an engineering consultancy firm. She enjoys nature, the outdoors and an active lifestyle, including: hiking and numerous sports.

Emma Dizon

Emma Dizon is working on her MPP in Public Policy at the University of Calgary. She received her BSc (honours) in Biology from the University of Calgary (2017). Emma has broad research interests in energy and environment, and is currently focused on energy affordability, federalism in carbon pricing, and crude oil transport. In her free time, Emma enjoys hiking and backcountry camping in the Canadian Rockies.

Jason Droboth

Jason Droboth is working on his MSc in Geoscience Communication with Profs. Dolphin and Eaton at the University of Calgary. He has a BSc Hon (2017) in Geology from Mount Royal University (MRU), graduating with honours. Jason has maintained an interdisciplinary research interest in creative communication of science-based information, from his undergraduate thesis, The Living Data Wall: Engagement Through Visualization, to his current focus on identifying trends in the public perception of Geoscience, understanding what informs those perceptions, and determining how scientists can more effectively engage the public in productive conversations. Jason has a range of communicative experience in both an advisory and technical capacity, having worked at MRU as a website designer, academic advisor, outreach coordinator and teaching assistant. Jason has also guided the re-branding of REDEVELOP and its new website design. In his free time, Jason volunteers with TEDxYYC and Art the Science, helping people more easily access transformative ideas and scientific concepts. He is also an avid book-reader, gardener, hiker and urbanite.

Evangeline Eldridge

Evangeline Eldridge is working on her MSc in Geoscience with Prof. Ryan at the University of Calgary. She received her BSc Hon (2018) in Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Geology at U.Calgary, graduating with first-class honours. Evangeline’s current research is the characterization of radon-rich groundwater in Alberta and it’s impact on indoor air quality. She has completed work terms with CNOOC (in abandonment and reclamation) and the City of Calgary (in environmental education and industrial waste processing). In her spare time, Evangeline chairs the Sustainability Committee of the U.Calgary Grad Students Assoc, and volunteers with Girl Guides Canada. Evangeline’s interests include: hydrogeology, reclamation and remediation, resource management and outreach.

Kareem Aboayanah

Kareem Aboayanah is working on his PhD in Civil Engineering with Prof. Grasselli at the University of Toronto. He received his M-Eng (2019) in Petroleum Engineering from Politecnico di Torino, in Italy, and a B-Eng (2012) from Suez University, in Egypt. Kareem has more than 2 years’ experience in hydraulic fracturing and acidization of heavy-oil reservoirs in Egypt. His research interests include: THM-coupled processes in rock mechanics and numerical simulation of reservoir geomechanics. Kareem speaks English, Arabic and little Italian. In his spare time Kareem likes to read and watch documentaries.

Yunkun Wang

Yunkun Wang is working on his PhD in Geomechanics with Prof. Grasselli at the University of Toronto. He received an MSc in Mining and Geological Engineering (2019) at the University of Arizona, and a B-Eng (2015) in Drilling Engineering at China University of Geosciences (Beijing). Yunkun’s MSc research focused on the application of photogrammetry to rock mass characterization and 3D point cloud processing. His current research interests are 3D scanning, geomechanical modeling and fracture characterization. Yunkun has completed several internships in the oil industry, including: well log interpretation, prospecting and geological evaluation. In his free time, Yunkun enjoys playing soccer, hiking and travelling.

Ryan Dormer

Ryan Dormer is working towards his MPP degree at the University of Calgary. His research is focused on the impact of climate change policies on energy-sector performance and spending, and how similar policies should be applied to other industries. Ryan received his BA (2019) in Political Science, with a minor in Economics, also from the U.Calgary. Ryan spent 4 years on the Logistics Team at Tesla Inc., and currently works as a research assistant to Prof. Winter in the School of Public Policy. As an undergrad, Ryan led an outreach group focused on information transfer and assistance for students considering graduate studies. He enjoys playing hockey, traveling, and exploring Calgary with his dog.

Jiujie Cai

Jiujie Cai is working on his PhD in Petroleum Engineering with Prof. Chen at the University of Calgary. He received his M-Eng (2015) in Oil & Gas Field Development and his B-Eng (2012) in Petroleum Engineering both with First-Class Honours from the University of Petroleum in China. Jiujie’s research interests are hydraulic fracturing propagation modeling using numerical simulations, evaluation of unconventional reservoirs and height containment mechanisms. He completed several internships in China, including working on a hydraulic fracturing team for the North China Petroleum Bureau Downhole Operation Company and the Li’ke Petroleum Technology Service Company. Jiujie is trilingual (Chinese, English and a little French). In his spare time, Jiujie enjoys hiking, running and playing tennis.

Laura Flinkfelt

Laura Flinkfelt is working on her MPP with Prof. Winter at the University of Calgary. Her current research interests are in the overlap between environmental and economic policy. Laura received a BA (2017) in Political Science and a BA (2016) in History with a minor in Philosophy, both from the University of Calgary. In her spare time, Laura sits on the U.Calgary Senate and several committees, including the Grad Students Assoc, and the local AUPE. She also mentors two undergraduate students. Laura has 7 years’ experience in public and non-for-profit administration and is currently studying French as a second language. She enjoys hiking, mountaineering and plays outdoor soccer for a competitive women’s team in Calgary.

Li Li

Li Li is working on his PhD in Civil Engineering with Profs. Dusseault and Gracie at the University of Waterloo. He received his MSc in Safety Science and Engineering, B-Eng in Safety Engineering at the Taiyuan University of Technology in China. Li’s current research focuses on numerical simulation of solution cavern development in salt beds (for storage of natural gas, hydrocarbons, or compressed air for energy storage), aiming to enhance understanding of the salt rock dissolution process for improved control of the shape of a salt cavern during dissolution mining. Li is also published on the topics of coalbed methane recovery and CO2 geosequestration. He is bilingual (English and Mandarin) and is willing to relocate for the right position.

Shelley Alexander

Shelley Alexander is working on her MSc in Geoscience with Profs. Mayer and Ryan at the University of Calgary. She has a BSc in Environmental Science, with a concentration in Geology (2018), from the University of Calgary, as well as a BSc in Zoology (1998) from the University of Toronto. Shelley’s current research interest is in hydrogeology, with a focus on source water protection planning programs, particularly for remote communities in Western Canada. Before returning to academia, Shelley spent 7 years working for the City of Calgary in various environmental roles. Shelley is Métis and bilingual (English/French).

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