Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin

After spending more than a decade in industry, new associate professor Michael Pyrcz is joining UT PGE this fall.

The innovative knowledge he will bring from working with one of the largest oil and gas companies will benefit the UT PGE research program as well as our students in the classroom. Pyrcz, who received a Ph.D. in mining engineering from the University of Alberta, is a world-renowned expert in geostatistical reservoir modeling and has a passion for outdoor activities.

pyrcz new associate professor

Dr. Michael Pyrcz

Why did you choose UT PGE as your next career move?

I have very much enjoyed my last 13 years at Chevron Energy Technology Company. The opportunity to conduct and deploy research, and practice geostatistical reservoir characterization and modeling with world class data sets and professionals has been a professional honor. Yet, I always suspected that I would return to academia.

My knowledge of UT PGE came through the work of professors Larry Lake and Sanjay Srinivasan (now at Penn State), previous interns, consortium meetings and guest lecture opportunities. The department is highly recognized, attracts top talent for faculty and students and is known for excellent relationships with industry. In addition, I appreciate the collaborative atmosphere in UT PGE and the chance to live in Austin, Texas. I feel UT PGE offers the best opportunities to reach my professional and personal goals.

What do you hope to achieve in the department?

I will enhance the knowledge of UT PGE students that will enter industry shortly, lead a research consortium that will address industry challenges focused on the Texas energy industry, grow graduate students that will assume leadership roles and collaborate with faculty. Geostatistical reservoir modeling is a central, integrated component of reservoir management; therefore, knowledge concerning this topic is a multiplier on the potential impact of UT graduates within industry reservoir asset teams.

Many challenges remain for reservoir characterization and modeling. Unsolved problems include, limited ability to model subsurface complexity, gaps in data integration in conventional reservoirs and underdeveloped unconventional workflows. Solutions to these problems will impact profitability. Graduate students with highly specialized knowledge will fill positions in academic, industry R&D and expert consulting roles. There are many opportunities to collaborate with other UT PGE R&D programs such as rock mechanics, enhanced oil recovery, CO2 storage, and unconventional resources.

What knowledge are you bringing from industry to UT PGE?

Benefiting from 13 years in a centralized subject expert role with responsibility for developing and delivering an entire R&D portfolio for assets world-wide, I know what has been done in industry and academia and what opportunities remain. I understand how to conduct and communicate research such that deployment and impact is maximized. My high level of energy, excitement and creativity were fueled in industry and will continue at UT PGE.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Over the past years, I have contributed to the scientific community, changed modeling practice in industry and grown through mentoring opportunities. I have enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to the scientific community through various publications, a textbook, keynote talks and as an associate editor. This has impacted the state of geostatistical reservoir modeling (e.g. novel technology for modeling geologically complicated and unconventional reservoirs). Ultimately, I take the greatest pride in the many students and professionals that I have taught and mentored.

What are your passions and hobbies outside of the lab?

Fitness and outdoor activities are my passions. I feel that these activities support my professional and academic goals by providing inspiration, enforcing discipline and supporting overall health. Hiking, running, mountain biking, kayaking and working out are regular parts of my schedule. Photography fits in when possible. Sharing these with my children is a joy.