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Dr. Ahmad Sami Abushaikha

Dr. Ahmad Sami Abushaikha is a founding faculty member at Hamad Bin Khalifa University. He received his BS in Petroleum Engineering and his BA in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004. In 2006, he received his MS in Reservoir Geosciences and Engineering from "Institut Français du Pétrole". From 2007 to 2009, he worked at TOTAL Research Centre at Pau, France, and at Qatar Petroleum. In 2013, he received his PhD in Petroleum Engineering from Imperial College London. From 2015 to 2017, he received a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from QNRF and specialized in discretization schemes for fluid flow in porous media from Stanford University.

Dr. Ahmad Abushaikha has been involved with QNRF throughout the different stages of his academic and research career and he is the first Qatar Research Leadership Program graduate to become an Associate Professor. This month, we talk to Dr. Abushaikha to learn more about his journey and the current research projects he is working on.

  1. What attracted you to a career in academia and research?

I have always been a curious person. I remember when I was a child, I would take my remote-control cars and radios lying around at home apart and then put them back together to understand how they function. Research is very similar to this; we always explore the unknown to try to understand it.

What I enjoy about academia is the engagement with the next generation of youth. They bring a breath of fresh air of ideas, insights, and motivation. For me, teaching, mentoring, and advising students are privileges that I greatly honor. Moreover, the major development of R&D in Qatar attracted me to have a career in academia and research.

  1. Throughout your studies and career, how have you made use of opportunities provided by QNRF?

QNRF has been crucial in my research journey and its development and progress. My post-doctoral scholarship at Stanford University was funded by QNRF. Also after I joined as faculty at Hamad bin Khalifa University, I was awarded three NPRP grants from QNRF which funded the recent huge success of the 1 billion cell modeling of a giant oil and gas field by the in-house developed reservoir simulator QASR.

  1. Can you tell us a bit about your research interests and your NPRP project on the 1 Billion Cell model?

My research interests are in the development of oil and gas fields, reservoir simulation, enhanced hydrocarbon recovery, and sustainability. One project I recently worked on is the recent successful development of QASR, an in-house oil and gas reservoir simulation software (Project NPRP10-0208-170407). QASR simulator was able to forecast the oil and gas production for a giant oil and gas field using 1 billion cells for a period of 15 years. The simulation, which would take years without a supercomputer, was completed in just under 36 hours of simulation time!

There are only four reservoir simulators in the world that can simulate a billion-cell model for giant fields. They are developed by international companies and QASR is the first and only one from academia.

Moreover, I am currently now working on machine learning and data analytics for oil and gas through another NPRP funded project.

  1. How do you see the evolution of the scientific and technological research and innovation in Qatar in the past years and what role do you think it will play in the country’s development?

The remarkable progress Qatar has made in such a short time will play a major role in Qatar’s development as many of the scientific and technological research and innovation projects are moving towards a more mature stage where technology transfer is taking place. This will lead to start-ups which in turn assist in the development of a sustainable and diversified economy in Qatar.

I am in the process of launching a start-up for QASR reservoir simulator to cater to the local and international oil and gas industry which will not only contribute to the industry but also help in building the skills and knowledge of our talented university students and researchers.

  1. What is your advice for our students who are budding scientists, inventors, and researchers and how can they capitalize on the opportunities available to them in Qatar?

My advice to them is to follow their passions and never give up. Always have global and local ambitions that will impact the whole world and at the same time benefit your country. There are massive opportunities for scientists, inventors, and researchers in Qatar so please explore the opportunities provided by Qatar National Research Fund, Qatar Foundation, and Education City to learn more about them, and remember that we are always here to help you in any way to pursue your success.

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