Laboratory Research Assistant, Stable Plug Cementing – Complex Fluid Lab

This is an undergraduate research position, made available through either the NSERC USRA or the Work Learn IURA program.*

Role Details

Project Name:  Laboratory Research Assistant, Stable Plug Cementing  |  Complex Fluid Lab, UBC Vancouver

Supervisor Name: Soheil Akbari, Scott Charabin,  |  Preferred Contact:

Deadline to Apply: Application procedures are different for these two programs – visit our undergraduate Research Opportunities page for application details.

  • NSERC USRA: Send your cover letter, resume, and transcript to Soheil Akbari ( by Feb 29, 2024 at 11:59 PM to be considered.
  • WL IURA*: If proposal is approved for funding, this position may be available through the WL IURA program. Applications would open on UBC CareersOnline  from March 11 – 24, 2024. CareersOnline ID: 976269
    • Interested students would also be able to contact Soheil Akbari ( with resume and transcript. 

*WL IURA availability is subject to funding approval for this role.

Project Description

Oil and gas wellbore leakage is a primary concern for the public due to risks of groundwater contamination and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The wellbore travels through sensitive geological zones containing brine and hydrocarbons. Casing is placed in the wellbore to protect against collapse, and cement is used to replace the water between the rock and casing to maintain stability and protect against leakage. Proper displacement of water by cement is vital to ensure a proper bond is made between the cement and pipe as wells can remain active for decades. When the wells are no longer active and abandonment occurs, a long cement plug is pumped into the casing to hydraulically seal the well.

As a result of poor cementing practice there many thousands of wells in Western Canada that now leak, contributing significantly to total industrial emissions of methane. Therefore this research aims to understand displacement and exchange flows using viscoplastic fluids. A key feature of a viscoplastic fluids is its yield stress: the material flows only if the imposed stress exceeds the yield stress. This raises question regarding how yield stress impacts displacement flow, or how a yield stress fluid can hinder buoyancy flow of a lighter fluid.

We are seeking a student to work on exchange flow between a viscoplastic fluid and Newtonian fluid. The project will hopefully lead to better industry practice and help Canada meet its GHG target reductions. The student will assist in all operations related with the experiments: fluid preparation, rheometry measurements of the fluids, running experiments and image processing. The student will learn the physical background to the experiments and may help in design of new components and implement changes to the current apparatus.

Special requirements (department, GPA, specific courses, year level, skills)

This position would perhaps suit a student in Engineering, Engineering Physics, Physics or Chemistry with hands on laboratory experience who wishes to gain research experience in fluid mechanics and rheology. Interested students should contact Soheil Akbari ( with their resume and transcript. Students seeking funding under the NSERC USRA should have mostly A grades to be competitive in this program.

Other Information

Position duration: May-August 2024 (16 week minimum, possibly extendable)

Total pay including award: $9,755.20 minimum (16 weeks, 35 hours per week).

Will this position be hired if funding is not received: No.