Release Date: January 30, 2015
Interns at NETL: Expanding Horizons through Diverse Collaborations
With one-of-a-kind laboratories and facilities for groundbreaking energy research, NETL is a sought-after venue for students from all over the world who seek collaborative research opportunities and access to NETL’s world-class fossil energy expertise and training. The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) helps make those opportunities possible for many.
NETL currently hosts more than 100 ORISE research associates who are applying their scientific curiosity in laboratory activities that help the nation develop cleaner and more efficient ways to recover and use fossil fuels. Many ORISE research associates are quick to offer positive accounts of their NETL experiences. Here are three.
Jennifer Bauer now works as Geospatial Analyst at NETL, but she started her career as an ORISE research associate. Bauer joined the lab as a marine biologist to find solutions for safer and more efficient energy production. Where Bauer works, in NETL’s Geoscience Analysis, Interpretation, and Assessments Computational Facility, opportunities for collaboration are prolific and diverse. For example, Bauer teams with other scientists with geologic, geographic, statistical, and engineering backgrounds to understand and help prevent offshore blowouts. She brings a unique perspective on potential impacts that hydrocarbon exploration and development could have on coastal communities and marine environments. She has found NETL’s team approach to solving complex problems very rewarding. She observed that finding solutions requires communication among researchers with different areas of expertise and specialties. She calls her time at NETL "an opportunity to work on cutting-edge research in a very collaborative environment that I would not have found anywhere else."
Postdoctoral research associate Arnab Roy works in NETL’s High-Pressure Combustion Facility and uses data from the Energy Systems Innovation Lab to design next-generation water-cooled rotating detonation combustors for land-based power generation applications. Roy also works with fuel cells, coal gasification, and gas turbines, with an emphasis on investigating thermal management strategies to improve performance and efficiency. He came to NETL to help develop transformational technologies using state-of-the-art research facilities alongside renowned scientists and engineers. "One unique feature that is definitely praiseworthy is being able to discuss and critique new research ideas not only with individual mentors but also across different research groups," he says. "I am particularly inspired by the encouragement provided by senior research leaders regarding new ideas and innovations."
A friend and classmate referred Richard Spaulding to NETL as a way to obtain hands-on laboratory experience after he graduated from Robert Morris University. As a result, Spaulding began working with Barbara Kutchko to better understand wellbore integrity by studying foamed cement. His experience at NETL encouraged him to pursue a master’s degree in geology and planetary science at the University of Pittsburgh as. He continues to be a part of dynamic research at NETL. Spaulding sees foamed cement as a critical area of research because the team’s investigations may help avoid problems associated with wellbore environments like blowouts and contaminated water tables. "This is important in [the Pittsburgh] area because of hydraulic fracturing and in areas of economic importance like the Gulf of Mexico," he says. But the experience has been more than academic. NETL has put Spaulding in touch with great mentors, and he believes working at NETL gives him the opportunity "to make a difference."