Sherifat Yesufu-Rufai, Research Postgraduate, Department of Chemical Engineering

“I didn’t realise how supportive of parenthood Imperial was – from the nursing room to the childcare centre. I immensely appreciate the College’s understanding that you can work in academia and be a parent.”

I was born and raised in Nigeria. I received a BEng in Chemical Engineering from the University of Benin, and subsequently obtained an MSc in Chemical Process Engineering from UCL. I started my PhD at Imperial in September 2017, receiving a scholarship from the Department of Chemical Engineering in collaboration with Shell.

My research focuses on wettability alteration processes that affect Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). I use a technique called Atomic Force Microscopy to study the surfaces of rocks at the sub-pore scale to determine the possibility for modifying their wettability as a direct consequence of their redox state. The results show how the wetting behaviour of air-exposed rock cores is likely to differ from in-situ reservoir rocks. This will enable improved core preparation methods and give further insight into retention mechanisms of oil components and EOR chemicals under various conditions.

What I love the most about being at Imperial is how supported I feel. I had a baby during the second year of my PhD, and I knew finding a balance between getting my work done and being a new mum was going to be hectic. Thanks to my supervisor, my schedule is quite flexible and I have the luxury of working from home considerably. I love that I can get a lot of experiments done in the lab and have the freedom to analyse the results from home. Also, I didn’t realise how supportive of parenthood Imperial was – from the nursing room to the childcare centre. I immensely appreciate the College’s understanding that you can work in academia and be a parent, and that those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

The highlight of my PhD programme is being able to associate with people from diverse fields, having the opportunity to network and build professional relationships through conferences and workshops. Working closely with a group of people who are experts in their own rights has challenged and developed me, creating endless possibilities for the future.

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