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STEM Professional of the week

Cesar Ovalles, Ph.D.      
Chevron Corporation

Dr. Cesar Ovalles was born in Caracas, Venezuela with an innate passion for the sciences. It is that same passion for science that has taken him on a world-wide journey, starting with his birth place of Venezuela to Quebec, Canada and ultimately the United States, where his working relationship with Chevron began. He dreamt of science as a child and knew even then that he would dedicate his life to it. He considers his accomplishments and life-long devotion to his chosen profession a stroke of fortune for which he is grateful. That sense of humility and drive has made him an intricate part of the scientific community as well as a committed teacher.

Dr. Ovalles earned his Licentiate in Chemistry in 1980 from Simon Bolivar University in Venezuela and his doctorate in Chemistry from Texas A&M University in 1986. Shortly thereafter he initiated his industrial research career in Venezuela at the Instituto de Tecnología Venezolana para el Petróleo (Intevep).

When Dr. Ovalles moved to California, in 2006, he rapidly realized that the history and industrialization of the state is tied to the discovery and exploitation of its vast reserves of heavy petroleum. With this in mind, the work he does as Technical Team Leader, at Chevron, has the goal of understanding the chemistry associated with these important raw materials in order to optimize their production. As a result of his work, which has resulted in several new chemical processes and analytical methods have been developed and patented in Chevron’s laboratories to reduce capital and operating costs, which in turn make the exploration of heavy and extra heavy crude oils more economical.

With twenty-five years of industrial experience, Dr. Ovalles has been awarded 16 patents and has a total of 230 scientific productions. In addition to his significant contributions to the petroleum industry and to Chevron, Dr. Ovalles is committed to teaching the younger generation of chemical scientists through graduate school courses and as the co-advisor of 22 undergraduate research theses and four master and doctorate dissertations. He also participates in the evaluation of applicants for the NASA MUST Scholarships.

His dedication and 25 years of industrial experience was recognized in 2012 when Dr. Ovalles was honored by Great Minds in Stem as a HENAAC Luminary Honoree. Dr. Ovalles is married to his college sweetheart, Luisa Elena, and has two children to whom he has clearly passed his interest of science. His son is a Computer Science graduate and his daughter is studying Microbiology at San Francisco State University.

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