Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Alumni Profile

Dr. W. John Lee, '59, M.S. ChE '61, Ph.D. ChE '63

Josie Giles
School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Contact Josie Giles
Sidebar Content
No sidebar content submitted.

Summary Sentence:

Alumni John Lee Receives Two Distinguished Honors

Full Summary:

As a world-renowned expert in his field, Dr. John Lee has been appointed to two individual supply- and energy-related assessment committees. Last fall, the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC's) Division of Corporate Finance appointed him as an academic engineering fellow. He is currently serving a one-year term that will end in August and has been working on various issues related to the disclosure of oil and gas reserves.

  • Dr. John Lee Dr. John Lee

Dr. W. John Lee, '59, M.S. ChE '61, Ph.D. ChE '63, Regents Professor and holder of the L.F. Peterson Endowed Chair in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University, has dedicated his professional life to exploring practical approaches to managing the petroleum energy challenges facing the nation. As a world-renowned expert in his field, he has been appointed to two individual supply- and energy-related assessment committees. Last fall, the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC's) Division of Corporate Finance appointed him as an academic engineering fellow. He is currently serving a one-year term that will end in August and has been working on various issues related to the disclosure of oil and gas reserves.

As the nation faces a continually expanding fuel crisis, petroleum engineering provides crucial tools to evaluate and maintain critical supplies of petroleum. Petroleum reservoir engineering is concerned with maximizing the economic recovery of hydrocarbons from the subsurface. This branch of engineering involves generating accurate reserves estimates for use in financial reporting to the SEC and other regulatory entities. It also plays a vital role in field development planning and recommending cost-effective reservoir depletion schemes such as waterflooding or gas injection to maximize hydrocarbon recovery.

John White, director of the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance, is excited about the opportunity to work with Dr. Lee. He says, "Dr. Lee has a unique background and a distinct area of expertise which I believe will significantly enhance our ability to evaluate, among other things, new technologies that companies may use to assess current, and identify new, reserves. He will also assist us in determining what recommendation we will make to the Commission, if any, about revisions to our current disclosure requirements."

This spring, Dr. Lee was appointed to a second committee, the National Research Council Committee on Understanding the Impact of Selling the U.S. Helium Reserve. The committee operates under the direction of the Board on Physics and Astronomy (BPA) and the National Materials Advisory Board (NMAB) of the National Research Council's (NRC) Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences. Dr. Lee will work along with other top scientists and engineers to assess the impact of selling the Federal Helium Reserve as well as to examine the availability and reliability of worldwide helium supply, technical opportunities to increase the supply, and the relationships among supply, demand, and market price. Additionally, the committee will assess the current and projected helium marketplace; assess the role that organizational and financial factors play in meeting the goals of the Federal Helium Program; and identify measures that would enable the Program to respond more effectively to the dynamics of the helium industry.

"I am honored and excited to have this opportunity to serve again as a member of a National Research Council Committee," Dr. Lee said. "This committee will be studying an issue of great importance to a segment of the scientific and engineering community in the country and ultimately of importance to the public as a whole."

Since 1977, Dr. Lee has worked at Texas A&M University, where he holds a joint appointment with the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES). His areas of specialization include unconventional resources, reservoir management, gas reservoir engineering, and pressure transient testing. In spring 2008, he was named a Regents Professor, making him one of only 106 faculty members in the state of Texas who have received the designation to date.

Dr. Lee is the author of three textbooks published by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Well Testing, Gas Reservoir Engineering, and Pressure Transient Testing. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1993, to Georgia Tech's College of Engineering's first class of its Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni in 1994, and became an Honorary Member of SPE in 2001. His numerous distinctions include receiving the SPE DeGolyer Distinguished Service Medal in 2004, the AIME/SPE Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal in 2003, the AIME Mineral Industry Education Award in 2002, SPE's Distinguished Service Award in 1992, the John Franklin Carl Award in 1995, and the Reservoir Engineering Award in 1986. He was named a Distinguished Member of SPE in 1987, and is a past member of its board of directors. Dr. Lee has been an SPE Distinguished Lecturer, has received the SPE Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award, and is an SPE Continuing Education Lecturer.

Prior to joining the Texas A&M faculty, Dr. Lee worked for the Reservoir Studies Division of Exxon Production Research Company from 1962 to 1968. His work focused on simulator reservoir studies of major Exxon reservoirs in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and south Texas. Afterwards, he joined and later headed Exxon Company, USA's major fields study group, where he supervised integrated field studies of Exxon's largest domestic reservoirs. In 1975-76, he was a district reservoir engineer for Exxon's Houston District. He also joined S. A. Holditch & Associates, Inc., a petroleum engineering consulting company, in 1980, and retired as executive vice president in 1999.

Despite adding the additional responsibilities of serving on the preeminent petroleum and helium committees to his already demanding professional life, Dr. Lee manages to find time for some of his favorite pastimes. He enjoys reading, especially literature, history, and philosophy, which he says that he missed during his college years and early professional life. Dr. Lee and his family also play an active role in their church, where he has been both a teacher and an officer. He and his wife, Phyllis, who is a professional volunteer, have two daughters, Anne and Denise. Anne, the eldest, is an obstetrical nurse in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Denise is a Presbyterian minister in Bartlesville, Okla. Each of their daughters has two daughters, ranging in age from college sophomore to toddler. With Dr. Lee currently in Washington, D.C. fulfilling his duties as an academic engineering fellow on the SEC committee, his wife has had an opportunity to spend more time than usual with their children and grandchildren. When she visits him in Washington, Dr. Lee says, she has been keeping him "alive by giving free advice on cooking and washing clothes, etc." Somehow, Dr. Lee has managed to add juggling household chores to his growing list of responsibilities!

Additional Information


School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Alumni, Institute and Campus, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Research
Related Core Research Areas
No core research areas were selected.
Newsroom Topics
No newsroom topics were selected.
chemical engineering, john lee, outstanding georgia tech alumni
  • Created By: Josie Giles
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Jul 14, 2008 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:06pm