Our Team

The people who make up U of A's world class Geothermics Research Group.


Dr. Daniel Alessi

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Daniel S. Alessi, an associate professor and the Encana Chair in Water Resources in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta.  He a low-temperature geochemist who studies the surface chemistry of environmental materials, the transport and remediation of anthropogenic contaminants, and the water cycle in hydraulic fracturing for tight hydrocarbons.  Most recently, the Alessi group began a collaboration with E3 Metals Corporation, to extract lithium from oilfield brines.  Lithium (Li) is increasingly used in renewable energy applications, and brines found in Alberta have considerable promise as a source of Li to meet this demand.  Because of the elevated temperatures of the brines when they reach the surface, they have a potential for use in geothermal energy, which could be coupled to the Li extraction process to provide environmentally-friendly Li to the market.

Dr. Jonathan Banks

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Dr. Jonathan Banks is hydrogeologist and geochemist with over 10 years of experience in geothermal energy sciences.  He came to the University of Alberta in 2013, after working for several years at an experimental geothermal power plant north of Berlin, Germany.  A staff member in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Dr. Banks is currently leading the University’s geothermal energy team and is responsible for coordinating inter-departmental and inter-collegiate geothermal research activities.  He brings an entrepreneurial spirit to the laboratory, with a focus on building bridges between pure science to applied science to commercial success.  Dr. Banks is a pioneer in advancing several transformational technologies for Western Canada, including the use of supercritical CO2 as thermal energy transport fluid in crystalline rocks and the development of a novel, ultra-low temperature differential heat engine.  Through the on – going “Deep Dive” analysis, in partnership with Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions and several regional municipalities Dr. Banks is also the leading figure in commercialization – focused geothermal energy exploration and development in Alberta.

Dr. Joel Gehman

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Joel Gehman is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Management and Organization. He studies sustainability, innovation, and strategy. In particular, he investigates how concerns related to sustainability and values affect organizational strategies, technology innovation, and institutional arrangements. And reciprocally, how organizations, innovation, and institutions affect the emergence and trajectories of such concerns. In approaching these questions, Gehman draws primarily on organization theory, together with insights from strategic management, and science and technology studies. His work also takes a process perspective, focusing on the organization of concerns over place and time. Ongoing research examines these issues in the context of technology entrepreneurship, B Corporations, unconventional shale gas drilling, hydraulic fracturing patents, shareholder activism, multinational divestitures, social license to operate, cultural understandings of risk, and university technology spinouts, among others. Before becoming a professor, Gehman spent 13 years in industry. He regularly advises and consults with diverse organizations. He graduated from Cornell University (B.S.) and the Pennsylvania State University (Ph.D.).

Dr. Nicholas B. Harris

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Dr. Nick Harris is Professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, where he has taught since January 2010, and director of the Integrated Petroleum Geosciences program, an intensive one-year M.Sc. program at the University of Alberta.  He held research positions at the Colorado School of Mines from 2004 to 2009 and at the Pennsylvania State University from 1994 to 2004.   He worked as a research scientist and exploration geologist for 14 years for Conoco Inc.  He holds a B.A. from Amherst College and M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.  Dr. Harris’ research and teaching interests focus on the application of sedimentology, geochemistry and basin modeling to problems in natural resource development.  He brings decades of experience exploring hydrocarbon reservoirs to Albertan geothermal community, where practically all of the geothermal resources are found environments similar to hydrocarbons.  Dr. Harris’ work in geothermics at the University of Alberta is focusing on re-shaping standard hydrocarbon exploitation methods for geothermal energy development.  This knowledge transfer from the hydrocarbon resource community to the geothermal resource community is an essential aspect of stimulating the growth of a geothermal industry in Western Canada.

Dr. Lianne Lefsrud

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Dr. Lianne Lefsrud is an Assistant Professor, Engineering Safety and Risk Management at the University of Alberta. She uses mixed methods to study how institutional and new venture entrepreneurs use persuasive language and imagery to shape our conceptions of technology, the environment, and regulations.  Specifically, she examines the risk acceptability of established technologies like resource industries, newer challenges like climate change, and newest innovations like geothermal and genomics. Most recently, Lianne was a Dow Sustainability Postdoctoral Fellow with the Erb Institute, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.  She received her Ph.D. in Strategic Management and Organization, interdisciplinary M.Sc. in Environmental Engineering and Sociology, and B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from the University of Alberta. She also spent several years with APEGA regulating engineering/geoscience and worked for a railroad (yes, she’s trained as a locomotive engineer and conductor), an oil and gas company, and environmental consultancies.

Dr. Wei Victor Liu

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Dr. Wei Victor Liu is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Engineering for the
School of Mining and Petroleum Engineering. His research interests are centered on the areas of cement-based materials (e.g., shotcrete and grout) and geothermal modeling.

Dr. David S. Nobes

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Dr. David S. Nobes received his B.Eng and PhD (thermo-fluids, combustion) from the University of Adelaide, Australia in Mechanical Engineering. He has been a Research Fellow at Cranfield University, UK (optical diagnostics), Penn State and Stanford Universities (combustion). His research interests include the areas of optical diagnostics [PIV, PTV, plenopitc PTV, PLIF, temperature PLIF, DIC], their analysis [calibration, uncertainty], combustion, turbulent jets, oil sands separation processes, two-phase flows, active control of fluid flows, cardiac fluid mechanics, energy conversion using Stirling engines, the thermo-mechanics of EBAM and strain measurement of complex shapes. This academic work is coupled with more than 30 years design and research work in different areas of industry including manufacturing, oil and gas and mining.

Dr. John Parkins

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John Parkins is a professor in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology. His research addresses rural community development, public engagement in resource management and environmental governance. Research on energy transition includes Q Methodology to assess public discourse on energy development, a large-scale national survey of energy literacy and energy citizenship, and analysis of social media content to gauge impacts from proposed energy developments, such as hydroelectric dams. Current research involves analysis of wind energy development with attention to community impacts and possibilities for enhanced local governance of local energy systems.  Research on geothermal technology involves an assessment of social and cultural dimensions of geothermal technology including possibilities for community based systems of governance.

Dr. Martyn Unsworth

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Dr. Marytn Unsworth is a leading expert in the application of magnetotelluric data to imaging Earth structure including applied studies focused on mineral and geothermal exploration, and research in volcanology. He has led a number of large magnetotelluric studies that have investigated the structure of tectonically active regions worldwide. He has also used magnetotellurics to study lithospheric structure and past tectonic processes on the Canadian Shield in Western Canada.

Students and Staff

Our Talented Students and Staff who contribute to the success of our Geothermal Research Group


Kyla Cangiano

Master’s Graduate Student

Shyra Craig

Geothermal Administrator
& Outreach Coordinator

Theron Finley

Master’s Graduate Student

Vivian Giang

Doctoral Graduate Student

Cedar Hanneson

Master’s Graduate Student

Alex Hu

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Jason Michaud

Master’s Graduate Student

Steven Middleton

Master’s Graduate Student

David Miller

Master’s Graduate Student

Michael Nico-Seto

Master’s Graduate Student

Christopher Noyahr

Master’s Graduate Student

Arif Rabbani

Post- Doctoral Fellow

Evan Renaud


Master’s Graduate Student

Nadine Suliman Abdelrahman

Master’s Graduate Student

Gabriel Salata


Master’s Graduate Student

Calynn Stumpf


Master’s Graduate Student

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Earth Sciences Building 2-08

Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3

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