News Release

Release Date: August 26, 2015

Energy Department Lab Researcher Wins HENAAC Award for Outstanding Achievement


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The National Energy Technology Laboratory’s (NETL’s) Nicolas Huerta has been honored as a Great Minds in STEM™ Luminary Honoree by the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation (HENAAC).

Dr. Huerta, who has made significant scientific contributions to the field of carbon dioxide (CO2) storage risk assessment, is being recognized for his work as a leader and role model to the Hispanic technical community.

Dr. Huerta works with the National Risk Assessment Partnership (NRAP) where he serves as a member of the Technical Leadership Team and the Group Leader for the Wells and Seals Working Group. He coordinates research across multiple national laboratories and universities to develop risk assessment tools that will provide a better understanding of how the subsurface environment influences well and seal integrity. The research is making invaluable contributions to DOE’s program goals of ensuring safe and permanent CO2 storage.

During his relatively short research career, Dr. Huerta has made significant contributions to the science of well geomechanics and integrity that will translate into a better understanding of factors impacting well performance during CO2 storage. The results of his work will ultimately help to minimize the environmental impacts associated with fossil fuel use.

According to NETL Director Dr. Grace Bochenek, “As an early-career scientist, Dr. Huerta has already performed game-changing research on clean, affordable CO2 storage that provides the public with much-needed computational tools to mitigate leakage from geological storage sites. Dr. Huerta is a highly respected scientist at NETL, and he has positioned himself to quickly become a leader among researchers in carbon storage permanence.”

Dr. Huerta came to NETL as a student trainee in the Minority Mentoring and Internship and DOE’s Pathways Programs, and subsequently transitioned to full-time federal employment after he defended his dissertation. Since becoming a federal scientist, he has shared his expertise and insight by serving as a mentor and career advisor to undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral fellows. Dr. Huerta provides an individualized, hands-on approach with each research fellow, assisting them in experimental design, numerical simulations, laboratory work, data analysis, and interpretation. His commitment to mentorship has had a positive impact on many of his mentees, helping them further their educational pursuits.

Dr. Huerta will receive his award at the 27th HENAAC STEM Career Conference, “Ignite, Inspire” October 14–18, 2015, in Pasadena, CA. Great Minds in STEM™ Luminary Honorees represent professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) who initiate, collaborate, and lead key programs and research within their companies. Honorees have made significant contributions to the Hispanic technical community as leaders and role models. 


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