Job advertisement Research Associate - Shale Gas Modelling

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Research Associate - Shale Gas Modelling

Research Associate - Shale Gas Modelling


Heriot Watt University - Institute of GeoEnergy Engineering

Heriot-Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Orkney), one in Dubai and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programmes in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business and languages.

With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leading-edge research, which has made it one of the top UK universities for business and industry. We connect with industry at every level and develop programmes to match their needs – so employers get work-ready industry-fit graduates.

Heriot-Watt is also Scotland’s most international university, boasting the largest international student cohort.

We have an established set of values that help us to nurture innovation and leadership, and show our commitment to continuous improvement and development in all our activities.

For full details on our University please view our Careers at Heriot-Watt

About our Team
The School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society is one of the UK’s leading institutions for multidisciplinary research and teaching in areas critical to economic development and societal equity. We aim to attain excellence in the teaching of the core disciplines that contribute to a sustainable, resource and energy efficient society and are committed to undertaking high value, high impact research and knowledge transfer in topics of relevance to global challenges.

The School enjoys facilities consistent with its location in modern, purpose-built accommodation on the Edinburgh campus. The School is well equipped in respect of laboratories for materials, structures, engineering, building services and hydraulics research and teaching. Our research and teaching facilities in Dubai and Malaysia are contained within purpose-built campuses in Dubai Academic City and Putrajaya, respectively.

The School’s undergraduate teaching on our Edinburgh campus covers civil and structural engineering, architectural engineering, construction project management, quantity surveying, geography, urban studies, interior design and the biology suite. On our Dubai campus we teach civil & structural engineering, architectural engineering, architecture, construction management, quantity surveying and interior design. On our Malaysia campus we teach civil engineering, construction project management, quantity surveying and geoenergy engineering. We offer a high quality educational experience underpinned by practical and laboratory teaching, and informed by contact with professional practice. Most of our degree programmes hold the appropriate accreditation from the relevant professional body. This educational philosophy ensures excellent employment prospects for all of our graduates.

Programmes of postgraduate study are aligned to the expertise contained in each of our research institutes. Our postgraduate students therefore benefit from state-of-the-art knowledge in their chosen study area. You can find further information about the School’s postgraduate programmes at

The School is one of the leading research centres in the UK. It has sustained a high reputation for the international standing of its research over two decades.

Research within the School is organised into six Institutes:

- Institute of Life and Earth Sciences (ILES)
- The Urban Institute (TUI)
- Institute of Geoenergy Engineering (IGE)
- Institute for Infrastructure and Environment (IIE)
- Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design (CESBD)
- Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research (I-SPHERE)

All academic staff based on the Edinburgh and Dubai campuses contribute to the research activities of one of our Institutes.

These Institutes support a wide range of research activities of relevance to a sustainable, resource and energy efficient society. Institute staff undertake research funded by research councils, charitable foundations, local and national government. Research outcomes are published in leading international and national journals and key findings are widely disseminated through other media and forms of output.

Institute of Geoenergy Engineering

The Institute of Geoenergy Engineering (IGE) was founded in 1975 and is widely recognised as one of the internationally leading centres of excellence for learning, teaching, and research in petroleum engineering and petroleum geoscience.

IGE provides specialist training through its MSc programmes in Petroleum Engineering, Reservoir Evaluation and Management, Petroleum Geoscience, and Integrated Mature Field Management, which are offered on Heriot-Watt University’s campuses in Edinburgh, Dubai, and Malaysia, through Approved Learning Partnerships in Russia, Portugal, and Australia, or through distributed learning. IGE also partners with Schlumberger to deliver an MSc in the Management of the Oil & Gas Industry and with SOCAR to establish the Baku Higher Oil School, or with the Oil and Gas Innovation Centre. To-date, over 4000 students have graduated from IGE, many of them now holding leading positions in the energy industry or academia.

IGE’s industrially focused research involves over 60 academics and 100 PhD students and covers the full range of activities related to the upstream oil and gas industry, from exploring hydrocarbon provinces to characterising the reservoirs and providing robust uncertainty envelopes for future hydrocarbon production to developing new chemical and engineering solutions that ensure that production wells operate efficiently. More recently, IGE has extended its capabilities to develop and manage other subsurface forms of energy such as geothermal energy and CCUS through new collaborations with the Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Science and Technology to support the transition to a low-carbon energy future. IGE leads several major UK-wide and interdisciplinary research centres, such as the NERC Centre for Doctoral Training in Oil and Gas, the International Centre for Carbonate Reservoirs, or the Centre for Energy Economics Research and Policy.

In 2015, IGE received the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize, recognising its sustained pioneering work in innovation and research excellence. The prize recognised how the IGE’s research and innovation activity spans hydrocarbon exploration to production technology, and also harnesses its findings to enhance interdisciplinary work, with some of its inventions now used in medical and biological research. It was the second time that IGE was awarded with the Queen’s Anniversary Prize, which is the highest award in U.K. higher education.

During REF2014, IGE has provided four highly ranked impact case studies and was a central component of the Edinburgh Research Partnership in Engineering (ERPE), which was the largest submission in the UK to the General Engineering assessment panel. 94% of ERPE’s overall research activity was classified as world-leading or internationally excellent, and ERPE had the highest research power rating of all general engineering submissions in the UK. Previous REF and RAE exercises have awarded IGE’s research the highest possible ratings as well.

For further information visit


Edinburgh, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


Relevant division
Energy, Resources and the Environment (ERE)

Full time

Student / Graduate / Internship

32817 - 35845 € / Year, £

Required education

Application deadline
5 August 2020

8 July 2020

Job description

Applications are invited for a Research Associate position for a period of 6 months, at the first instance, with a possibility for an extension of another 6 months. This position will be based in the Institute of Geoenergy Engineering, the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society, at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK, and funded by a UK Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) grant ( as part of Challenge 2 of NERC UK Unconventional Programme (

One objective of this project is to gain a better understanding of gas transport mechanisms within ultra-tight shale pore space on effective flow properties. To this end, unified pore-network fluid flow models will be developed for assessing the effects of a wide range mechanisms on gas transport. The mechanisms of concern are those closely related to gas interactions directly and/or indirectly with and near pore surfaces of variable chemical compositions in tightly confined pore geometry and connectivity of pore space. The models to be developed will be applied to the project for upscaling gas transport properties from pore scale to core and wellbore scales.

Key duties and responsibilities
The successful appointee will be responsible for developing pore-network models and implement them as computer codes for assessing effects of different mechanisms on a set of digital shale models that have be and are be reconstructed from shale images obtained by SEM, FIB-SEM, X-ray CT and/or optical microscopy imaging.

The successful appointee will be expected to undertake the following:

  • Develop new and improve existing pore-network flow models for gas flow in ultra-tight porous media;
  • Implement models into existing pore-network flow modelling software packages;
  • Perform systematic analysis on the effects of collective transport mechanisms on effective transport properties of shale rocks;
  • Document research outcomes and develop manuscripts for publication;
  • Contribute to the supervision of relevant MSc student individual projects;
  • Develop appropriate networks within and outside the institution;

Please note that this job description is not exhaustive, and the role holder may be required to undertake other relevant duties commensurate with the grading of the post. Activities may be subject to amendment over time as the role develops and/or priorities and requirements evolve. A flexible working schedule may be required to meet all key duties and responsibilities.

We will measure applicants based on the essential criteria, not by the key duties.

Education, qualifications and experience

Essential Qualifications
  • A first degree in geosciences, engineering, or computer science;
  • A PhD (including nearly completed) or MSc degree in a research area of fluid flow modelling in porous materials, preferable at pore scale, or in a closely-related research area;


  • Proven experience and demonstrable expertise in developing pore-network fluid flow modelling techniques for simulating fluid flow within pore space of porous materials;
  • Proven experience and demonstrable expertise in implementing models into research-grade computer codes;
  • Proven experience and demonstrable expertise in scientific programming using C++ or Python;
  • Experience in working within a multi-disciplinary team;
  • Experience in communicating research outcomes within and outside the team;

Competencies, Skills and Knowledge

  • Excellent IT skills;
  • Good team player with good interpersonal skills;


  • Proven experience in developing research codes in C++ and/or Python and integrating them in existing C++ packages;
  • Proven experience in digital rock characterisation and reconstruction from FIB-SEM, SEM, X-ray CT and/or optical microscopic images of samples;
  • Proven experience in multiscale fluid flow modelling in rocks at sample and wellbore scales;
  • Work experience in wireline data analysis, especially high-resolution resistivity and sonic image logs;

How to apply

Applications can be submitted up to midnight (UK time) on 5th August 2020.

There may be a delay in candidate selection dependant on the ongoing situation regarding COVID19.
Please be aware that the successful appointee to this role will only be able to start the position when our University campus re-opens, so there
may be a delay before taking up the position.

Find out more about working at Heriot-Watt University here:

Candidates can make informal enquiries about this position to Dr Jingsheng Ma ( or at 0131 451 8296

Each applicant is advised to submit a cover letter to express his/her interest as part of his/her application. If you have not heard the outcome of your application by 4 weeks from the closing date, please assume that your application has been unsuccessful.

At Heriot-Watt University we understand that being diverse makes us better which is why we support a culture of respect and equal opportunity, and value diversity at the heart of what we do. We want to increase the diversity of our workplace to underpin a dynamic and creative environment.

We welcome and will consider flexible working patterns e.g. part-time working and job share options.

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