NETL LabNotes

March 2016 

Three NETL Science and Engineering Ambassadors to Participate in Spring Course

Three NETL employees, Ale Hakala, Paul Ohodnicki, and Steven Bossart will participate as Science and Engineering Ambassadors for the 2016 spring semester course, “Energy: Science, Society and, Communication,” presented by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) as part of the Science and Engineering Ambassadors program, developed by the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering. The Ambassador program provides sound, science-based information to members of the Pittsburgh community to make informed decisions regarding important energy issues in the southwestern Pennsylvania region.

Ensuring that the key outcomes of energy research reach community leaders and decision makers is important to NETL as well, and the involvement of three of the Laboratory’s brightest minds will allow the breadth of the technical expertise at the Lab to be applied toward the shared goals of this program. The NETL Ambassadors will meet with honor students to develop energy-themed topics and communication techniques for a Pittsburgh energy forum in March.

Alexandra Hakala

Ale Hakala, a research geochemist in the Geologic and Environmental Systems Directorate from NETL’s Research and Innovation Center (RIC), brings a wealth of environmental geochemistry experience to the program. Her work at NETL has greatly improved the understanding of toxic and nontoxic metals mobility in groundwater systems, long-term geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), and safe and prudent natural gas development—all important to mitigating climate change and enabling safe and sustainable energy resource development.

Hakala joined the Ambassador Program due to her interest in promoting consideration of technical issues as part of decision-maker discussions of energy and environmental policy. She has been involved with various Ambassador-led events to discuss shale gas issues since the start of the program in 2012.  

Paul Ohodnicki

Paul Ohodnicki, also of RIC, is an internationally recognized materials scientist in the Material Engineering and Manufacturing Directorate. At NETL, Ohodnicki established an optical sensor research program, targeted at discovering and developing new sensor technologies that can perform effectively in the harsh environments typical of advanced energy systems. Such technology advancements are key to enabling enhanced efficiencies and improved process control in next-generation clean energy systems.

Ohodnicki has a long history of public outreach work, including the Adopt-a-Physicist program sponsored by the American Institute for Physics, the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair, and a student poster competition for the local chapter of the American Society for Materials. In addition to those activities, Ohodnicki has worked closely with local university partners at both CMU and Pitt, so the Ambassador program was a natural fit for him.

Steven Bossart

Steven Bossart is a senior energy analyst in the Energy Technology Development Directorate of NETL’s Technology and Integration Center. Bossart works extensively on Smart Grid projects, which are contributing to the development of an electric grid modernization to meet the growing demand for variable renewable power, greater consumer participation, greater reliability and power quality, and affordability.

Bossart was originally asked to participate on a leadership team to develop the technical content of a four-part series of electric power forums called “Grid Academy,” which is now part of the energy lecture series. The Grid Academy was created in partnership with the Allegheny Conference on Community Development to educate a group of opinion-leaders from the Pittsburgh area on electric grid reliability.