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Francisco Vargas Picture

Francisco “Paco” Vargas

Assistant Professor

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Dr. Vargas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University and the principal investigator of the laboratory on Petroleum Thermodynamics and Flow Assurance. Prior to his current appointments, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Petroleum Institute and the Manager for the Flow Assurance Research and Development Program of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Dr. Vargas has been the recipient and co-recipient of several teaching and research awards in Mexico, US and UAE. He is currently a member of the National Researchers System of the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) in Mexico and he is co-chairing the Upstream Engineering & Flow Assurance Forum of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Dr. Vargas holds a Ph.D. degree from Rice University, and M.S. and B.S. from Monterrey Tech, in Mexico.


Rocio Doherty Picture

Rocio Doherty

Laboratory Manager

Rocio Doherty is originally from Mexico where she was an Assistant Professor at the Monterrey Tech for 12 years. In 2006, she moved to Tampa, Fl where she worked in the construction and water industries as R&D Chemist. She also worked at Link-Systems Inc, a company dedicated to develop educational material for different universities. She is the Laboratory Manager at Vargas Research group since July 2014.

Dr. Doherty research experience includes the synthesis and characterization of polymers for chemical encapsulation, and the formulation and testing of additives for a number of chemical products and materials. She has been responsible for the development of laboratory techniques for quality control, certification and field diagnostics and for the coordination of research activities of multidisciplinary groups. Dr. Doherty holds a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry and a M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Monterrey Tech, in Mexico.

Miguel Garcia Picture

Miguel Garcia-Bermudes

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dr. Garcia-Bermudes' research experience involves the study of heterogeneous reactions in oil suspensions, the formulation of chemical additives to disperse solids in oil systems, and the development of testing methods based on optical microscopy.

Miguel is currently studying and characterizing industrial chemicals used for asphaltene inhibition as well as developing enhanced algorithms for phase behavior modeling.


Mohammad Tavakkoli Picture

Mohammad Tavakkoli

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dr. Tavakkoli's research experience includes using SAFT equation state for predicting asphaltene phase behavior at reservoir conditions, investigation of rheological behavior of oil-asphaltene systems, prediction of asphaltene deposition in wellbore, understanding of asphaltene-metal surface interactions using QCM-D experiments and simulation of 3D – two-phase flow through porous media.

Mohammad's most recent work has been developing a method for analyzing asphaltene phase behavior using novel methods performed in a standard lab environment. His latest work is published in Energy & Fuels and can be found on our Publications page.

Graduate Students

Renato Evangelista Picture

Renato Feijo Evangelista

Renato's current research is focused on developing fundamental understanding of the phase behavior of asphaltenes, which is a potential problem in oil production. He is interested in understanding the effect of solvents, water, electrolytes and asphaltene polydispersity on the phase behavior, rheology and morphology of asphaltene particles and their suspensions, in a wide range of temperatures and pressures.


Caleb Sisco Picture

Caleb Sisco

Caleb's research interests are in the development of rigorous modeling methods for phase and rheological behavior of complex polydispersed systems, for which the tools of advanced equations of state, transport methods and optimization algorithms for parameter estimation are combined and implemented in a user-friendly environment for easy portability and deployment.


Fei Wang Picture

Fei Wang

Fei is currently revisiting the old solubility theories to better handle non-electrolyte mixtures composed by unlike molecules with significant differences in size and shape. The goal is to develop a general procedure that can make use of optical properties and density of liquids to predict cohesive energy and solubility behavior at high pressures and temperatures. Fei will also explore the applications of this work to modeling CO2 capture, adhesion phenomena and reservoir fluid behavior.

Shayan Enayat Picture

Shayan Enayat

Shayan's research project is on the development of cost/effective methods for large-scale asphaltene separation from crude oils and the identification of potential uses of raw asphaltene nano-aggregates and derived products via chemical and/or physical alterations.

Jun Kuang Picture

Jun Kuang

Jun's work is focused on the development of a new generation of asphaltene inhibitors based on electro-static repulsion and disruption of the mechanism of asphaltene aging. He also investigate the relation between corrosion and asphaltene precipitation and deposition, and is interested in the development of integrated methods for simultaneous mitigation of these two problems.

Betty Lin Picture

Pei-Hsuan “Betty” Lin

Betty is interested in developing modeling methods that combine Computational Fluid Dynamics and Phase Equilibria Thermodynamics to better understand the flow of multiphase/multicomponent systems in porous media at high pressures and temperatures. One of her project objectives is to assess the potential impairment caused by asphaltene deposition in the near-wellbore region of oil reservoirs.

Sara Rezaie Picture

Sara Rezaie

Sara's research is focused on the development of novel techniques for separation and physicochemical characterization of crude oil systems, using chromatographic and spectroscopic methods. In our method, we account for the polydisperse nature of asphaltenes and Sara's goal is to develop faster, cheaper and more reliable techniques for crude oil analysis.

Jieyi Zhang's Picture

Jieyi Zhang

Jieyi is currently working in the development of modeling methods for the rheological behavior of asphaltene suspensions and the interfacial phenomena of asphaltene / maltene / water systems. He is also interested in the implementation of these models in conjunction with an equation of state modeling framework for simultaneous determination of the phase behavior, asphaltene precipitation tendency and transport properties of these complex mixtures.

Narmadha R. Babu's Picture

Narmadha R. Babu

Narmadha’s research is focused on the development and integration of advanced numerical schemes for the thermodynamic modeling of multi-phase coexistence and flow dynamics in complex geometries.

Aisha Khaleel's Picture

Aisha Khaleel

Aisha is interested in developing integrated strategies for the prevention of asphaltene deposition, through optimization of operating conditions and utilization of cost/effective mitigation strategies.

Yousef Khalil

Yousef is interested in the simulation of the phase behavior of petroleum systems at high pressures and temperatures, with special emphasize on the design and optimization of enhanced oil recovery strategies.

Mohammed Abutaqiya

Mohammed is currently working on the development of a new generation of tools for computer-aided analysis of PVT properties and flow assurance problems, with unprecedented predictive capabilities and user-friendliness.


Andrew Chen's Picture

Andrew Chen

Fernando Lejarza Picture

Fernando Lejarza

Jeremy Hu's Picture

Jeremy Hu

Josiah Yarbrough's Picture

Josiah Yarbrough

Timothy Threatt

Timothy Threatt

Jialing (Caroline) Li's Picture

Jialing (Caroline) Li

Shunan Li

Shunan Li

Morgan Glose

Pranav Bhat's Picture

Pranav Bhat

Mai Wang's Picture

Mai Wang

Ricky Shao's Picture

Ricky Shao

Miguel Gozalo's Picture

Miguel Gozalo

High School Students

David Valdes's Picture

David Valdes

Former Members

  • Mohan Boggara, Ph.D.
Graduate Students
  • Ali Al Hammadi, Ph.D. 2016
  • Chi-An Sung, M.Sc. 2016
  • Ariana Melendez, M.Sc. 2016
  • Si "Lisa" Li, visiting Ph.D. student.
Undergraduate Students
  • Marty Grimes
  • Je Jin Lee
  • Sarah Correa
  • Kelly Kidder
  • Siqi "Amanda" Meng
  • JongMin "Jay" Lee
  • Amanda Yang
  • Calvin Tsay
  • Quinton Cox
  • Caitlin Garcia
  • Andre Ferreira (exchange student)
  • Andressa Prado (exchange student)
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