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Zhangxing (John) Chen

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Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

Zhangxing (John) Chen



(403) 220-7825

CCIT 210


NSERC/AI-EES/Foundation CMG Industrial Research Chair in Reservoir Simulation

By simulating oil recovery processes using state-of-the-art computational and visualization techniques and equipment, Dr. Chen is improving the ability of computer models to identify risk and study feasibility before new processes are put into practice. His work is uncovering new, more economical and sustainable ways to recover heavy oil and oil sands resources.

John Chen

AITF (iCORE) Industrial Chair in Reservoir Modelling

Dr. Zhangxing (John) Chen is a professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. He currently holds the NSERC/AIEES/Foundation CMG Industrial Research Chair in Reservoir Simulation and the AITF (iCORE) Industrial Chair in Reservoir Modeling. He is the director of the Frank and Sarah Meyer Foundation CMG Collaboration Centre at the University of Calgary.

Dr. Chen holds a PhD (1991) from Purdue University and has over 35 years of oil and gas academic and industrial experience from around the globe. He was a professor and reservoir engineer at Xi’an Jiaotong University, Peking University, University of Minnesota, Texas A&M University, Mobil, and Southern Methodist University (SMU). Dr. Chen held the Gerald J. Ford Professorship at SMU, Dallas, Texas, USA, and was awarded the Chang Jiang Chaired Professorship by the Chinese Ministry of Education and “Qian Ren Plan Expert” by the Chinese Government. Other significant appointments include Director of the Center for Scientific Computation, SMU, Director of the Graduate School, SMU, Director of the Center for Advanced Reservoir Modeling and Simulation, Peking University, and President of the Chinese Association of Science and Technology in Texas.

He has published and/or edited 15 books and over 530 research papers, and has given over 341 invited (plenary and keynote) presentations worldwide. He has received numerous prestigious awards such as The NSERC Synergy Award for Innovation, The Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Technology Award, IBM Faculty Award, Imperial Oil University Research Award and Gerald J. Ford Research Fellowship Award. His research interest is in reservoir engineering and numerical reservoir simulation for conventional and unconventional oil and gas reservoirs.

Cross Appointments and Affiliations:

  • Director, Reservoir Simulation Research Group
  • Director, Frank and Sarah Meyer Foundation CMG Collaboration Centre
  • Director, iCentre for Simulation and Visualization
  • Director, Global Initiative in Research on Unconventional Oil and Gas: Beijing Site

Selected Awards:

  • 2016 – NSERC’s Synergy Award for Innovation, NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada).
  • 2015 – The President's Award Winner, CWLS (Canadian Well Logging Society) Technical Luncheon Series, Calgary, Canada.
  • 2014-2016 – Outstanding Teaching Performance Award, Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary.
  • 2014-2016 – Imperial Oil University Research Award
  • 2013 – NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Discovery Grant Accelerator Supplement Award (awarded to a superior research program), Canada.
  • 2012 – Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Technology, Alberta Science and Technology (ASTech) Foundation
  • 2012 – Graduate Educator Award of Excellence, University of Calgary
  • 2012 – IBM Faculty Award, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center
  • 2009 – Overall Research Excellence Award, SSE, University of Calgary
  • 2009 – Department Research Award, SSE, University of Calgary
  • 2009 – Zi Qiang Professorship Award, Shanghai University
  • 2004 – Gerald J. Ford Research Fellowship Award
Research Activities: 

Dr. Chen’s group is focused on optimizing industry capacity to extract energy resources. Specifically, the group focuses on modelling and simulation of advanced energy recovery processes, such as:

  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS)
  • Cyclic steam stimulation (CSS)
  • Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD)
  • Expanding solvent steam-assisted gravity drainage (ES-SAGD)
  • Vapor extraction process (VAPEX) for heavy oil and bitumen reservoirs
  • Hydraulic fracturing for shale, tight oil and gas, and CBM (coal bed methane)
  • Underground coal gasification (UCG)

Key areas of research include:

  1. Derivation of physical and mathematical models
  2. Upscaling from geomodels to reservoir simulation models
  3. Development and study of high order and accurate numerical methods (e.g., finite volumes and finite elements
  4. Development and analysis of linear and nonlinear solvers (new pre-conditioners, solvers, parallelization technology, and solution schemes
  5. Validation and applications
  6. Reservoir simulation software development

Selected Publications:

Zhang, J., Wu, X., Chen, Z., Han, G., Wang, J., Ren, Z., and Zhang, K. (2015) “Application and experimental study of cyclic foam stimulation,” RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry) Advances, vol. 93, issue 5, pp. 76435-76441.

Wu, K., Chen, Z., and Li, X. (2015) “Real gas transport through nanopores of varying cross-section type and shape in shale gas reservoirs,” Chemical Engineering Journal, vol. 281, pp. 813-825.

Chen, Z., Sun, J., Wang, R., and Wu, X. (2015) “A pseudobubblepoint model and its simulation for foamy oil in porous media,” SPE Journal, vol. 20, issue 2, pp. 239-247.

Seifi, M., Abedi, J., and Chen, Z. (2014) “Application of porous medium approach to simulate UCG process,” Fuel, vol. 116, pp. 191-200.

Etminan, S.R., Javadpour, F., Maini, B.B., and Chen, Z. (2014) “Measurement of gas storage processes in shale and of the molecular diffusion coefficient in kerogen,” International Journal of Coal Geology, vol. 123, pp. 10-19.


Dr. Chen has taught the following courses at the University of Calgary:

  • ENCH 523 – Reservoir Engineering
  • ENCH 619 – Finite Element Methods and Their Applications
  • ENCH 621 – Reservoir Simulation
  • ENCH 639 – Applied Numerical Methods for Engineers
  • ENCH 703 – Advanced Mathematical Methods in Engineering

PhD, Purdue University (1991)

MSc, Xi'an Jiaotong University (1985)

BSc, University of Jiangxi (1983)

Graduate Program Affiliations: 

Dr. Chen is taking few students (graduate or post-doc) at this time, with a strong background in programming (C, C++) and petroleum engineering. If interested, please email him at