My capabilities. My work experience has educated me

My
primary research objective and interest are
in the field of Rock Fracture Mechanics and Numerical Simulation. I am
currently working as a Scientist at the National Institute of Rock Mechanics (NIRM)
in the Federal Ministry of Mines, India. I believe that the most important technological
advances in the mining industry in future would come through geomechanics that would
allow optimized mining of not only current deposits
but also previously inaccessible deposits in remote less developed regions.
Through my research, I want to make it easier for people to manage and make
sense of these advances. I plan to continue research after my Ph.D., as a faculty
in academia.

 

Over
my academic and professional career, I have acquired hands-on experience in the
field of geomechanics. I became acquainted to evaluate stress dynamics and
geomechanical parameters in unconventional reservoirs using numerical modeling
and statistical analysis. I have a great passion to learn new engineering tools
and techniques, requiring smart planning and data analysis capabilities. My work
experience has educated me to assess the ever-changing field situations and
simulate them using explicit modeling tools. It has enabled me to demonstrate
success as a strong team player and develop a range of skills: technical
research, project planning, coupled with strong analytical and communication
skills.

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My
objective for joining NIRM was to gain experience where I could fathom
implementation of research in geomechanics coupled with numerical modeling to
applied “projects”. Currently, I am
working to evaluate the rock mass behavior
of Zawar group of underground zinc mines. The scope of my project is to
estimate the feasibility of extracting crown and rib pillars of mined-out
stopes and check for global mine stability post-extraction. My work also
focusses on proposing an improved mining method for Rampura Agucha mines for
higher recovery at present and further depths. It includes field visits to
acquire geological and geotechnical mapping data
and make engineering design of the model. It further extends to generating structured meshes and run explicit continuum
numerical simulation to assess the feasibility of mining method and plan
excavation sequencing. I also conduct periodical audits and consult clients for
reviewing the support system for improved strata control. The review reports
act as a base for Directorate General of Mine Safety, India to implement the
suggested changes to improve the safety
of mining excavations. I am also responsible for monitoring instrumentation
data and couple it with field observations to analyze the stability of large caverns at Tala Hydropower
Plant in Bhutan. Working as a scientist has helped me realize that to build
true competitive advantage a researcher must embrace the broad theme of
innovation over incremental performance.

 

While
I always had a passion for earth sciences, initially I focused mostly on the operations
optimization aspect of it. It was only during my Masters under Prof. Harpalani at
Southern Illinois University Carbondale, I started thinking about research
seriously. As part of my research, I did a project funded by British Petroleum,
which was one of the first for Indonesian coalbeds. During this project, I achieved
wonderful results and got involved with an equally interesting research project
which I will discuss in detail, in the following sections.

 

Prof.
Harpalani’s research is based on quantifying the effect of natural gas
depletion on insitu stresses and pressure-dependent
permeability (PdK) in coalbed methane (CBM) reservoirs. Several analytical
models have been developed to describe the dynamic behavior of stresses and PdK during gas depletion. However, when I
tried to closely monitor the predictive models to experimental results, I
realized that these models were only applicable during gas depletion. The
original models could not be applied to cases where the gas content of the
reservoirs is enhanced. My work at SIU explored the scope of this research by modifying
two widely used analytical models (Palmer and Mansoori, and, Shi and Durucan)
for stress/PdK variation and improve their performance. The application of my
work can be carried out for scenarios where the gas content of reservoirs
varies with time, either due to fluid injection to enhance the gas recovery, or
gas enhancing techniques, such as
bio-stimulation. The research is aimed at simplifying and improving the
performance of the theoretical models in predicting the stresses and flow
characteristics of CBM reservoirs.

 

After
my graduation, I continued to work for Prof. Harpalani. As a Paraprofessional,
I was involved in a project which was an extension of my thesis research. An
important part of this project was to
perform numerical modeling to determine
the parameters essential in forecasting the gas production. These essential
parameters helped industry people a lot, as they could use these values to
calibrate the standard stress and flow analytical models according to field behavior. This helps them understand the
dynamic behavior of the reservoirs during
gas production. This research was also aimed at correlating the variation of insitu stresses with geomechanical
parameters such Young’s modulus and Poisson’s ratio of a coalbed. The research
showed that unlike traditional methods, varying these parameters with gas
depletion could explain the stress regimes in an accurate manner.

 

To
get a good understanding of geomechanics and flow characteristics of rocks, I took ‘Reservoir Geomechanics’ offered at
Stanford online by Prof. Zoback. Another
course which I found very useful was ‘Advanced Hydrogeology’, it helped me
understand the flow mechanisms in subsurface strata. I was also a TA for MNGE425
(Mine Ventilation) and MNGE417 (Statistics, Probability and Modeling), both
taught by Prof. Harpalani. Having completed two Masters and spent some time in
the industry, I now want to pursue a Ph.D. for my passion of a career in the
academia. In my research, I want to go beyond improving prevailing methodology
and innovate new ones that could bring significant operational improvements to
the mining and energy industry. Designing innovative technologies for
production use forces us to think about important issues that could be ignored otherwise.

 

Keeping
my research interests and goals in mind, I would love to work with either Prof.
Kemeny or Prof. Kulatilake if selected for the Ph.D. program at the University of Arizona. Most of Prof. Kemeny’s
research is in developing imaging
technologies for mining and ground-based LIDAR for rock engineering
applications. This opens many sub-areas of research which I would love to
explore. I am also interested in Prof. Kulatilake’s research, especially
related to investigation of rock fractures using numerical modeling.