Lin Ma

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


I am a lecturer (equivalent to assistant professor) focusing on Multi-scale imaging and characterization of rocks (Digital rocks) in geoenergy reservoirs and subsurface energy storage. I am also the theme lead of subsurface energy and storage at University of Manchester at Harwell and the Academic lead/co-chair of Women@manchester staff network at the university.

My current research aims to build novel and advanced 3D/4D digital approaches and correlative experiments to fully understand the complicated pore networks and the reactions of subsurface energy (e.g. natural gas, geothermal, hydrogen and CO2) with rocks under subsurface conditions (e.g. temperature, pressure, and chemistry) cross multiple scales (nm to cm). Machine learning tools and image based modeling are applied for enhanced understanding of these topics. My research aims to achieve the goal of enabling economic growth and environment protection via applications of clean energy extraction and subsurface energy storage.

I have secured > £2 million grant as a PI and participated in > £7 million pounds project as a co-I/WP leads from both UKRI and industries in the last six years. These project covers a wide range of topics including shale gas, carbon storage, geothermal and aquifer heat storage, underground hydrogen storage, nuclear waste disposal, using multi-scale, multi-dimensional, multi-model and machine learning assisted imaging and characterisation. I also lead >20 fully funded synchrotron beamtime sessions (>80 days) as PI at national and international synchrotron facilities including Diamond Light Source, Stanford Synchrotron, DESY Photon Science and Brazilian Synchrotron in the last six years to develop new in-situ imaging capacity in varied applications in energy decarbonation field.

Some recent projects include:

1) Industrial funding: ‘Microstructure Characterisation of mudstones under subsurface conditions during carbon storage’  (~£560K; PI)

2) NERC: ‘Towards Safe Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste in Lower-Strength Sedimentary Rocks (GEOSAFE)’ (~£5M; co-I/WP lead)

3) EPSRC: ‘Screening of Future Low Carbon Cement Powders for Nuclear Waste Disposal’ (~£160K; PI)

4) EPSRC: ‘Enabling hydrogen storage near industrial clusters (Phase 2): enhancing confidence in porous rock storage’  (~£498K; PI)

5) EPSRC: ‘Upscaling fundamental controls on fluid migration in the Mercia Mudstone Group based on 3D multi-scale imaging and modeling’ (~£60K; co-I)

6) Royal Society: ‘Deep learning methods assisted digital rock characterisation and simulation in subsurface system’ (~£11K; PI)

7) Royal Society: ‘Multi-scale and multi-approach characterisation of low-permeability and fractured rocks for energy geosciences studies’ (~£11K; co-I)

8) NERC ‘A UK-based internally heated pressure vessel (IHPV) system for studying geological and environmental processes at crustal pressure’ (~£735K; co-I)

9) EPSRC: 'Aquifer thermal energy storage for decarbonisation of heating and cooling: Overcoming technical, economic and societal barriers to UK deployment' (~£2M; co-I)

10) UMRI: ‘Investigation of Multidisciplinary Research Challenges in Subsurface Carbon Management’  (~£20K; PI)

11) EPSRC: ‘Enabling hydrogen storage near industrial clusters’ (~£155K; co-I)

12) Manchester-Melbourne seed fund: ‘Bridging micro-to macro- scale characterisation of subsurface energy storage’  (~£5K; PI)

13) Industrial funding: ‘Rupture-resistant Filter Cakes for Wellbore Strengthening’ (~£281K; PI)

14) Industrial funding: ‘4D imaging of hydrocarbon maturing models' (~£38K; PI)

15) NERC & STFC: ‘Novel multi-scale 3D/4D characterization of pore networks in tight rocks: Enhanced understanding of clean gas extraction and safe carbon'  (~£456K; PI)

Research interests

Digital Rock Manchester for Energy Decarbonization

1. Multi-scale Imaging characterisation of pores and rocks (sub-nano scale to m-scale)

2. 4D imaging of porous materials' evolution under subsurface thermo-hydro-mechanical-chemical (THMC) conditions (250°C; 3600Psi; multi-phase flow; complex chemistry) 

3. Upscaling of pore network and microstructure of porous materials from nm-scale to m-scale, linking to km-scale

4. Time-lapse imaging of fine particle migration and deposition and filter cake formation

5. Machine learning assisted imaging processing, characterisation and analysis 

6. Imaging-based modeling for thermal, hydrological, mechanical, and chemical evolutions

7. Multi-scale investigation and integreated assessment of subsurface energy storage

The applications include shale gas/oil, carbon storage and sequestration, geothermal and aquifer heat storage, nuclear wate disposal, hydrogen storage and compressed air storage etc.


PhD applications and research collaborations are welcome to contact



PhD applications and research collaborations are welcome. More details see research interests.

Contact for more details




Presidential fellow/ Lecturer, University of Manchester 2020-

NERC & STFC Research Fellow, University of Manchester 2018-2022

PDRA, University of Manchester, 2016-2017

PhD Petroleum geosciences, University of Manchester, 2012-2016

MSc Petroleum geology, Jilin University, 2009-2012

BSc Petroleum geology, Jilin University, 2005-2009

Supervision information


  • Dr. Jingyue Hao (current)
  • Dr. Ke Wang (former)
  • Dr. Jing Zhang (former)
  • Dr. Takshak Shende (former)

PhD students as the primary supervisor: 

  • Chenzi Shi (2018- 2023; former): Time-lapse imaging of fines migration for subsurface applications
  • Ziyu Zhang (2021-): Multi-scale investigation of thermal-hydro-mechanical-chemical processes in carbon sequestration, a case study of Teesside
  • Heather Braid (2021-): Multi-scale and multi-approach investigation of subsurface hydrogen storage 
  • Xin Zhong (2022-): Nano-scale imaging and modeling of gas transport in clay-rich mudstones 
  • Camilo Salazar (2022-): Subsurface storage potentials for flow betteries 
  • Ali Bony Kaya (2023-): Deep learning asssited multi-scale characterisation and upscaling
  • Sonu Sudhikumar Seena (2023-): Deep learning assisted image enhancement and analysis to accelerate energy decarbonisation  
  • Bengang Chen (2023-): Chemo-mechanical response of subsurface rocks in future energy storage reservoirs
  • Jeffrey Akuoko (2023-): Multi-scale characterization of natural hydrogen exploration 

PhD students as a co-supervisors:

  • Razlin Abd Rashid 
  • Holly Mills 
  • Yue He 
  • Daniel Ronald
  • Josh Marsh 
  • Abdelrazik Elfar
  • Peter Castellucci
  • Muhammad Faisal Abbasi 
  • David Johnson
  • Aristarchos Mavridis 
  • Shuangyi Gong 
  • Ke Wang (former)
  • Georgy Borisochev (former)


  • Dr. Qian Zhang (Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

External positions

Associated Editor, Journal of Geoenergy

Section Editor, Marine and Petroleum Geology

Energy Group committee member & Vice Treasurer

Areas of expertise

  • QE Geology
  • 3D/4D Imaging
  • unconventional reservoirs
  • CO2 sequestration
  • shale

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Energy
  • Manchester Energy
  • Sustainable Futures
  • Digital Futures


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