June 29, 2011

Dr. Stephen O. Sears, Department Chair and Longwell-Leonard Family Distinguished Professor for LSU’s Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering (PETE) will step down as chair and return to teaching and research in the department, effective July 31, 2011. 

Sears, who has been chair for the past six years, said he is ready to spend more time teaching and is interested in expanding his research, centered around the prediction of rock properties required for engineering calculations, using geological models and concepts.

“I have been honored to be a member of this department for the last 6 years, and look forward to returning and continuing my association with LSU,” said Sears. “Thanks to the efforts of the students, faculty, and supporters, I think the department is on track for a very bright future.”

Prior to joining LSU in 2005, Sears served as production surveillance manager, EP Americas, Shell, and prospect development manager, Deepwater Division, Shell Oil Company. His leadership, industrial experience and research background was instrumental in guiding LSU’s PETE through an undergraduate enrollment that has increased by 100 percent in the six years.

LSU is the only university in the North America where future petroleum engineers can get hands-on training in well control by working at a full-scale well control research and training facility. The Petroleum Engineering Research & Technology Transfer, or PERTT, Laboratory - also commonly referred to as the Well Facility - is an industrial-scale facility with full-scale equipment and instrumentation for conducting industry training and research related to borehole technology. This unique facility on LSU’s campus provided the perfect platform to educate the general public, through the media, the impact of the oil spill during last year’s Deep Water Horizon incident. With the Deepwater Horizon disaster and Gulf oil spill last year, Sears, his faculty and staff and the LSU PERTT Lab have been looked upon by governmental agencies, industry, and media nationwide to provide perspective and information on everything from blowout prevention to drilling techniques and oilfield history.

 College of Engineering Dean Rick Koubek hosted a national search for Sears’ successor as chair. “We are all appreciative of Dr. Sears for his tireless and strong leadership of LSU’s nationally renowned petroleum engineering program over the course of an often-challenging time,” said Koubek. “When he returns to the faculty and his research next year, he will leave the department stronger, through increased enrollment and national attention of its students, faculty and research in the petroleum field.”

Sears earned his Bachelor of Science (1969) and Master of Science (1972),  both in Geology from The University of Florida. In 1976, he achieved his Ph.D. in Geochemistry from The Pennsylvania State University.

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