August 16, 2011

LSU’s College of Engineering (CoE) announced the appointment of Karsten E. Thompson, Ph.D., as the new chairman for the Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering (PETE), he will also be appointed to the Longwell-Leonard Family Distinguished Professorship.

“Karsten was identified as the key person to lead the Department and build on its already outstanding accomplishments,” said Rick Koubek, dean, LSU College of Engineering.

Thompson was previously appointed in LSU’s Cain Department of Chemical Engineering, where he held the Pressburg Memorial and Lowe Distinguished professorships His bachelor’s degree is in chemical engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1989, and his Ph.D. is in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1996.

Thompson identified some of his top initiatives upon taking his new role as chair:

  • Maintain PETE’s excellent undergraduate degree program
  • Grow PETE’s research program
  • Increase visibility for PETE, its faculty and students
  • Build upon strong industry partnerships 

“The LSU PETE Department has a long history of educating students and providing technical expertise to the oil and gas industry,” said Thompson. “We will continue to focus on providing outstanding educations to our undergraduate students, and on developing research and technologies for today’s energy needs.”

Thompson, a Fort Collins, Colorado native, has received numerous teaching and research awards, including the Haliburton Faculty Development Award, the LSU Cross-Holloway Award for Excellence in Research and Teaching, the LSU Engineering Council Professor of the Year Award, the Dow Outstanding Faculty Award, and the Tiger Athletic Foundation Teaching Award.   

Thompson’s research focuses on understanding the microscopic fluid mechanics that occur inside subsurface formations, which in turn affect how readily oil and gas can be produced from reservoirs. Much of the research involves new “digital rock” technology in which high-resolution 3D imaging is performed to generate detailed pictures of the internal structure of reservoir samples. Computational modeling of fluid flow is then performed directly on these 3D images. His work has been documented in journals, industry publications and invited lectures.

Thompson is active in professional and university service organizations. He is a member of the American Association of Engineering Education, the American Geophysical Union and the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

For more about the Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering, visit


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