Balhoff Named Next UT PGE Chair

May 31, 2023

Professor Matthew Balhoff has been selected to succeed Professor Jon E. Olson as the new chair of the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering. Dr. Balhoff begins his four-year term in July.

Professor Matt Balhoff

Balhoff, who currently serves as director of the Center for Subsurface Energy and the Environment, has authored 96 peer-reviewed publications and 42 conference papers in the areas of enhanced oil recovery, carbon storage, unconventional resource production, and fundamental processes of flow and transport through porous media. He teaches courses on reservoir engineering and simulation and recently published a book, “An Introduction to Multiphase, Multicomponent Reservoir Simulation,” geared towards undergraduates and first-year graduate students.

Balhoff is a distinguished member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and recipient of SPE’s Lester C. Uren Award for Technical Excellence, the UT Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, and the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Lockheed Martin Award for Excellence in Engineering Teaching. He succeeds Professor Jon E. Olson, who served two terms as chair and will return to the UT PGE faculty. Olson was instrumental in establishing UT PGE’s naming endowment, initiating the creation of the sustainable energy minor in engineering and bolstering data science education options.

Here, Balhoff discusses his vision for the Hildebrand department, his leadership style and how he’ll stay connected to students.

What excites you most about being UT PGE department chair?
I am most excited about directly working with all students, faculty and staff and serving as a liaison to our alumni and industry. I have a passion for our industry and look forward to being a bridge with our department.

How would you describe your leadership style?
I would describe my leadership style as a hybrid of a coach and democratic style. I like to identify the strengths of my team and put them in a position to succeed by using those strengths while giving them autonomy. I prefer to make decisions after obtaining input from my team.

What are your major goals for the department?
A few of my goals are to continue to modernize the curriculum, including an emphasis on unconventional resources, the digital transformation, and energy transition/expansion, and to actively recruit world-class students, faculty and staff.

How do you plan to stay informed about student concerns, both undergraduate and graduate?
I plan to continue to teach one course per year, for example, a required undergraduate course on reservoir engineering. I also will be meeting with student leaders regularly and will host annual town halls for both the undergraduate and graduate student body.

When you’re not wearing your Dr. Balhoff hat, what are your hobbies/interests?
My wife, Julie, and I love to travel and have traveled to national parks and internationally the last several years.