Shaina Kelly

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering

Shaina Kelly and her research team work on submicron to subsurface characterization of transport phenomena in porous media for sustainable energy applications.

Research Interests

Transport phenomena in porous media, Porous media characterization, Porous media fabrication, Multiphysics and multiphase fluid dynamics, Interfacial phenomena, Fluid-solid interactions, Heterogeneity, Unconventional properties (nanopores), Core analysis, Special core analysis, Optical and electron microscopy image analysis, Microfluidics and nanofluidics, Computational fluid dynamics (CFD); Carbon capture and storage (CCS), Sustainable oil and gas recovery, Mining, Sustainable water use and treatment, Unconventional resources, Enhanced geothermal systems

The transport of fluid, mass, and heat in natural and engineered porous media will play a critical role in the next frontier of sustainable energy practices, particularly subsurface activities and unconventional resource recovery.

Energy-related porous materials are ubiquitous and include geologic media such as sedimentary rocks composed of minerals, clays, and organic matter and engineered materials such as membranes and cements. Sustainable subsurface energy applications include (a) long-term waste containment (e.g., carbon capture, utilization and storage and deep nuclear waste storage), (b) robust fluid storage and energy cycling (e.g., hydrogen storage, geothermal), and (c) low-waste energy and resource production (e.g., oil and gas, mineral, and groundwater production and enhanced geothermal systems). However, subsurface systems are often riddled with multiscale heterogeneity and subjected to complex multiphase fluid flow situations. The Kelly Lab’s research approach uses a combination of laboratory rock core/sample analyses, microscopy, micro/nanofluidics, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) characterization methods to address the following overarching research question: How do porous media heterogeneities (e.g., spatial changes in micro- and macroscopic compositional fabric, pore types, and surface chemistry), fluid-solid interactions, and unconventional properties (e.g., nano-confinement effects) impact critical fluid storage and deliverability properties and levers?

The Kelly Lab specializes in the submicron characterization of capillary imbibition in varied nanochannels, nanopores, and nano-networks to quantify how interfacial interactions influence fluid and solute transport in low permeability porous media. The nanoscale findings are upscaled in terms of engineering variables such as effective pore diameter, viscosity and diffusivity for continuum modeling of tight rock energy production and storage. The findings are also related to parallel core analyses, microscopy, microfluidics, and CFD investigations as well as subsurface field-scale observations.

Research experience

  • Assistant Professor, Columbia University, Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, July 2022-Present
  • Graduate Research Assistant, The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, 2011-2015

Professional experience

  • Senior Geoscience Engineer, AquaNRG Consulting Inc. (Houston, TX), 2021-2022
  • Senior Petrophysicist (Geoscience), ConocoPhillips Company (Houston, TX), 2018-2021
  • Petrophysicist (Geoscience), ConocoPhillips Company (Houston, TX), 2016-2018

Professional affiliations

  • Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts (SPWLA)
  • Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE)
  • Interpore - International Society for Porous Media
  • Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG)
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Honors & awards

  • Recipient, Statoil (Equinor) Fellows Program at The University of Texas at Austin (2015).
  • Recipient, Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin Thrust 2000 Fellowship (2011-2015).
  • Recipient, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Honorable Mention (2012).
  • International Student Paper Contest Winner, 2013 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, Masters Division.
  • Energy Challenge International First Place Winner, Air & Waste Management Association (AWMA) 2011 National Conference, Orlando, FL.
  • College of Engineering Female Speaker Award (Commencement Speaker), University of Florida Spring 2011 Commencement Ceremony.
  • Recipient, P.M. Pope Engineering Scholarship, University of Florida College of Engineering (2010).
  • Recipient, Environmental Engineering Alumni Scholarship, University of Florida College of Engineering (2009).
  • Recipient, CH2M Hill University of Florida College of Engineering Scholarship (2008).
  • Recipient, The College Board’s ‘Young Epidemiology Scholars’ Competition Scholarship (2007).

Selected publications

  • Dick, M.J., Veselinovic, D., Bonnie, R.J.M., Kelly, S. (2022). “NMR-Based Wettability Index for Unconventional Rocks”, Petrophysics, 63 (03), 418-441.
  • Mehmani, A., Kelly, S., Torres-Verdín, C., Balhoff, M. T. (2019) “Capillary trapping following imbibition in porous media: Microfluidic quantification of the impact of pore‐scale surface roughness”. Water Resources Research, 55 (11), 9905-9925.
  • Mehmani, A., Kelly, S., Torres-Verdín, C., Balhoff, M. T. (2019) “Residual oil saturation following gas injection in sandstones: Microfluidic quantification of the impact of pore-scale surface roughness”, Fuel, 251, 147-161.
  • Kelly, S., Torres-Verdín C., Balhoff, M.T. (2018). “Influences of polarity and hydration cycles on imbibition hysteresis in silica nanochannels”, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 20 (1), 456-466.
  • Kelly, S., Balhoff, M.T., Torres-Verdín, C. (2016) “Subsurface to substrate: dual-scale micro/nanofluidic networks for investigating transport anomalies in tight porous media”, Lab on a Chip, 16 (15), 2829-2839. (Featured in the themed collection “Lab on a Chip Recent Hot Articles”)
  • Kelly, S., Balhoff, M. T., Torres-Verdín, C. (2016). “Anomalous liquid imbibition at the nanoscale: the critical role of interfacial deformations”, Nanoscale, 8 (5), 2751-2767.
  • Kelly, S. A., El-Sobky, H., Torres-Verdín, C., Balhoff, M. T. (2016). “Assessing the Utility of FIB-SEM Images for Shale Digital Rock Physics”, Advances in Water Resources, Pore scale modeling and experiments (special issue), 95, 302-316.
  • Kelly, S., Balhoff, M. T., Torres-Verdín, C. (2015). “Quantification of Bulk Solution Limits for Liquid and Interfacial Transport in Nanoconfinements”, Langmuir, 31 (7), 2167-2179.