Robin Rogers

Steven Bryant

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Materials Engineering for Unconventional Oil Reservoirs

University of Calgary

“ The University of Calgary is thrilled to have Dr. Steven Bryant join our energy research team, where, as the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Materials Engineering for Unconventional Oil Reservoirs, he will play a key role exploring new and sustainable ways of developing unconventional resources. We are confident that Dr. Bryant and his colleagues, working here in Canada’s energy capital, will offer innovative solutions to the pressing challenges faced by our society: meeting ever-growing energy demands and drastically reducing our environmental footprint. ”

― Elizabeth Cannon, president
University of Calgary


Dr. Steven Bryant is a dedicated researcher in applications of nanomaterials and mesoscale science. His research interests range from grain-scale models of geological processes to the role methane hydrates play in the Earth’s carbon cycle.

Before accepting his position as Canada Excellence Research Chair in Materials Engineering for Unconventional Oil Reservoirs at the University of Calgary, Bryant was Bank of America Centennial Professor in The University of Texas at Austin’s department of petroleum and geosystems engineering, and was director of two of the university’s industrial affiliates programs—one on nanoparticles for subsurface engineering and the other on geological CO2 storage. Bryant previously held both the university’s J.H. Herring Centennial Professorship and its George H. Fancher Centennial Teaching Fellowship in Petroleum Engineering. He also served as a distinguished lecturer for the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Bryant pioneered the fields of digital petrophysics and nanoparticles for petroleum engineering applications, and has made some of the most significant advances in the past 20 years in porous media modelling, reactive transport theory, and CO2 sequestration. Bryant has more than 280 publication credits to his name—including for books, book chapters, peer reviewed journal articles, and conference proceedings—on topics such as applications in production engineering, reservoir engineering and formation evaluation.

Bryant received his PhD in chemical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin, and his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Meeting Energy Demands While Shrinking the Environmental Footprint

Modern societies rely on intensive energy consumption a need which is currently being met largely by fossil fuel production. The scale of consumption is large enough to affect the planet’s biosphere, and it continues to grow, presenting us with one of the greatest technical challenges humankind will face in the 21st century, and a choice between meeting energy demand from available fuels and drastically reducing society’s environmental footprint.

Over the next few decades, Alberta’s oil sands will be a nexus for this challenge: a world-class petroleum resource, whose exploitation has left a legacy of environmental problems on the surface, and, increasingly, in the subsurface. Current exploitation methods require large inputs of energy and water, and emit substantial volumes of greenhouse gases. Dr. Steven L. Bryant, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Materials Engineering for Unconventional Oil Reservoirs at the University of Calgary, is working to bridge the gap between the current technological status of the oil sands industry and where it needs to be to ensure a sustainable, globally competitive future.

To help achieve this goal, Bryant will bring together, lead and co-ordinate a research team combining nanotechnology and materials science research with chemical and petroleum engineering, geoscience and chemistry. Nanomaterials and emerging capabilities in mesoscale science offer an extraordinary opportunity to address a wide range of oil sands challenges. Through focused application of these capabilities, Bryant’s team will work to reduce the process footprint for current extraction platforms, and develop new platforms for energy extraction that minimize environmental impact and maximize productivity. This CERC-led research program will accelerate the industry’s transformation in its approach to on-site energy extraction from the oil sands. Although inspired by industry applications, Bryant’s program is also designed to produce significant advances in basic science—resulting in “bigger picture” uses beyond the energy industry. Greater understanding in all areas will have impacts well beyond oil sands, in much the same way that biomedical nanomaterials advances are now being explored for oil recovery applications.