Exploration geoscientist recognizes the impact of her research experience
While studying geology at West Virginia University, Mollie Kish was unsure of the career path she would choose after graduation. As a way to explore potential opportunities, she applied for a research position at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, West Virginia. Now, as an exploration geoscientist for Shell Exploration and Production Co., she recognizes the impact of her research experience.
In the NETL Professional Internship Program (PIP), administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy, Kish contributed to a project involving resource assessment for carbon storage in geologic formations.
Alongside her mentors, Daniel Soeder and Maneesh Sharma, she completed geophysical log interpretation of more than 150,000 Marcellus shale wells in the Appalachian Basin. To conduct this research, she learned how to effectively store, manage and retrieve an immense amount of information related to the physical wells and associated subsurface. Kish used the geological interpretation software Petra® and mapping software ArcGIS.
By analyzing the area, net thickness and porosity of the shales, Kish helped develop constraints used in an equation for estimating carbon sequestration, a process in which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored underground.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the carbon sequestration project,” Kish said. “Working with NETL’s supercomputers to analyze big data was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I went to the lab every day knowing that my research would contribute to reducing carbon in the atmosphere. This fulfilling work environment created a sense of purpose for me.”
Additionally, Kish contributed to a coring project of the Pierre shale, a geologic formation in the Great Plains. She also had the opportunity to set up a petrographic microscope laboratory.
Kish developed technical skills related to her field and she strengthened her professional skills. She interacted with individuals at various branches of NETL and with outside scientists conducting similar research.
“Participation in the ORISE program helped me witness the work of professional scientists while I was still a student,” explained Kish, who utilized the teleconference rooms at NETL in Morgantown to schedule meetings with a worldwide network of scientists.
“Ultimately, my experience at NETL led to my decision to further pursue a technical career path,” Kish said.
After completing the ORISE program, Kish graduated with a Master of Science degree in geology. In her current role as an exploration geoscientist, Kish utilizes the technical and interpersonal skills she obtained while researching with staff scientists at NETL on a daily basis.
As an alumna of the ORISE program at NETL, Kish offers this advice to future applicants: “There is much to be gained by participating in a research program. You will meet scientists from different disciplines, work with cutting-edge technology and most likely gain experience that will guide your next career move.”