The Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy is welcoming four new faculty members this year to fill key positions within the School of Geosciences and the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering.
School of Geosciences
Caitlin Hodges is a critical zone geoscientist working at the interface of soil science and biogeochemistry, pursuing fundamental research in soil C cycle-weathering feedbacks and redox cycling in upland soils. She uses the understandings gained from this fundamental work to address the challenges we face in a world of rapid environmental change. Specifically, Caitlin’s research addresses two of the grand challenges in the environmental sciences: the global C cycle and water quality. She asks questions that span from mineral interactions at the micron scale to broad gradients that cross ecosystems. Caitlin’s analytical toolbox consists of both laboratory and field techniques, including traditional soil mineral extractions, field monitoring of elemental and nutrient fluxes, geophysical proximal sensing, and novel in situ sensor arrays. Her interdisciplinary approaches and interests lend themselves to diverse research questions, both applied and fundamental, poised to address soil’s role in modulating element and nutrient fluxes across scales.
Hodges received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and master’s degree in Ecology at the University of Georgia. She obtained her Doctorate in Soil Science and Biogeochemistry at Pennsylvania State University.
During her Ph.D., Hodges led fieldtrips and field-based classes for graduate and undergraduate students and is passionate about providing students at the University of Oklahoma with similar field-based learning experiences in soil and critical zone science. She is excited to explore the diverse soils and landscapes of Oklahoma with her students through her teaching and research programs.
Sina Saneiyan is a geophysicist whose research mainly focuses on near-surface environmental and engineering problems. Saneiyan began his professional geophysical work as an ore exploration engineer right after finishing his B.Sc. but soon after, he realized there is much more to learn and study in his field. He started his Ph.D. in 2015, working on the novel and interesting idea of bridging geophysics and engineering. Saneiyan chose the environmentally friendly microbial-induced carbonate precipitation (MICP) soil stabilization (a process to reinforce the soil for building purposes) method as his primary research focus and aimed to study this relatively new engineering ground improvement approach with geophysics. By the end of his Ph.D., he successfully showed geophysical methods (particularly induced polarization) are excellent in monitoring MICP in a non-invasive manner and can provide much more details compared to the old-fashioned direct monitoring techniques (such as soil sampling).
Saneiyan’s current research builds upon his initial goal of bridging geophysics and engineering. He is now trying to find the geophysical signatures of soils under dynamic forces (heavy rain, landslides, earthquakes, etc.). We, humans, depend on the stability of the soil that we live upon and understanding the mechanical properties of soils play a crucial role in site assessment for construction and infrastructure. Soils with low shear strength can become unstable as a result of natural and/or anthropogenic induced forces, therefore knowing their state under such forces is vital. Geophysical methods have proven to be sensitive to changes in the soils caused by dynamic forces. In his future research, Sina is aiming to show that geophysical methods (particularly electrical methods, such as spectral induced polarization and electrical resistivity) can be used as reliable and permanent site characterization tools for monitoring areas prone to soil failure, such as active landslide zones. Although this would require developing new tools and software capable of conducting large-scale surveys and analyzing data fast and intelligently, ultimately such monitoring methods can be used as effective geo-hazard mitigation tools in the future.
Saneiyan holds a B.Sc. in Mining Engineering from the University of Tehran, an M.Sc. in Petroleum Engineering from Shahrood University of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from Rutgers University. His postdoctoral research is on the assessment of soil deformation and failure with complex electrical methods. Saneiyan is an experienced geophysicist and knows a wide range of geophysical techniques. He has research experience from his small laboratory to surveying Lake Michigan. He also is a skilled programmer. Sina is a core developer of ResIPy (2D/3D modeling and inversion of geoelectrical data), SIPy Studio (1D spectral induced polarization data analysis), and has contributed to developing EMagPy (modeling and inversion of electromagnetic data). Saneiyan has an extensive teaching portfolio and believes that a diverse and inclusive environment is vital for preparing students for a successful future, therefore he is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion at the University of Oklahoma. Aside from work, Saneiyan is an avid cyclist with thousands of miles ridden on his bike, Red! He also loves photography and backpacking, because there is nothing more fascinating than nature.
Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering
Baharak Sajjadi, Ph.D., was born in Iran in 1984. She graduated with an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering in 2008 from Arak University in Iran. In 2010, Sajjadi received her master’s degree from the same university and was ranked the first-best student. She completed her Ph.D. in the area of biochemical processing in 2015 from the University of Malaya. Most recently, Sajjadi worked at the University of Mississippi as a research assistant professor and postdoctoral researcher, working on transformational solar chemical looping and photo-ultrasonic renewable biomass refinery. Her other interests include computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulation, energy and environment, bioenergy and biofuels, and Sono-Physics. To date, she has published more than 40 papers in high-impact research journals.
Sajjadi will join the faculty of the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering in January 2022, and will specialize in Low Carbon Emission Operations.
Lingling Zhang, Ph.D. graduated with her bachelor’s in electronic science and technology in 2005 from Huaqiao University in China. Also in China, Zhang received her master’s in materials physics and chemistry from Tongji University in 2008. At the University of South Carolina in 2013, she completed her doctorate in mechanical engineering. Most recently, Zhang has worked with Carbon America in Denver to develop a novel CO2 capture system for ethanol fermentation and powerplants. Her research and interests are focused on carbon capture and storage, novel electrochemical materials development, electrochemical energy systems, fuel cells, electrolyzers, sustainable energy technologies, energy storage, process design and modeling.
Zhang will join the faculty of the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering in August 2022, and will specialize in GeoEnergy Resources and Storage.