Alla Miroshnik

Graduate Student
Geotechnical Engineering
BSCE, Lehigh University, Class of 2010

Alla Miroshnik is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in civil engineering with a concentration in geotechnical engineering. Introduced to research during her sophomore year, Alla's endeavors contributed to a National Science Foundation project on geo-synthetic materials. A co-op stint with Hensel Phelps Construction Company during her junior year exposed Alla to professional construction management at an industry-leading firm. A study-abroad semester at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology satisfied a goal that had long been at the top of Alla's "college to-do list."

Professor Sibel Pamukcu recruited Alla for a research project extracting hydrocarbons from clay formations using electric currents. Her work as a research assistant earned her a partial scholarship and a teaching assistantship.

Alla has presented her research team's work at the 2010 David and Lorraine Freed Undergraduate Research Symposium. In March 2011, she received a travel grant from the Geo-Institute to present a poster at Geo-Frontiers 2011 in Dallas, Texas.

Alla is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority and has served on the Panhellenic Council as the campus relations chair.


I'm Alla Miroshnik, a graduate student in the department of civil engineering, pursuing my M.S. in geotechnical engineering. For me, research work is the most exciting aspect of the program because I am working with incredibly interesting and talented people; I can observe and control the physical processes of the experiments; and I feel that we are developing useful technology.

Our research team is studying electrically induced flow in porous media. Specifically, we are investigating different factors that influence the flow of various liquids through tightly packed soils. The resulting technology can provide a controlled method to transport environmental contaminants to collection sites, to distribute desirable substances through the soil, or to gather petroleum products in the subsurface for energy production.

My thesis topic stems directly from the research work. I hope my work will advance the understanding of electrokinetic flow. Meanwhile, this blog will provide some insight into my research process.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The focus of my thesis project is visualization of electrokinetic flow involving two immiscible phases: water and oil. Ultimately, I would like to generate an optical record of electrically induced flow through soil. I started trying to learn everything that has already been done on this topic by gathering journal articles and thesis works of other students. In addition to looking in civil engineering journals, I found great information in journals focused on chemistry, colloidal science, and biology. Surprisingly, articles dealing with microfluid systems in electrical engineering journals contained the most practical information about flow visualization studies. These works detail electrically induced flow in micro-channels, which are similar to pore spaces in soil. Lastly, I signed out from the library a textbook on petroleum reservoir engineering because reservoir design deals in depth with two- and three-phase flows in porous networks.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Today I met with my adviser, Dr. Pamukcu, to discuss my progress so far. I showed her my literature findings and we discussed several approaches that are worth investigating. To develop a good experimental method, I need to start with a simple one-phase system of just sand and water, and then systematically test other variables like clay content and salinity of the water. Now, it's time to play in the lab.