Ale Hakala

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Ale Hakala smiling at the camera wearing safety goggles and a lab coat while using an anaerobic chamber in a lab

Ale Hakala earned her Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from SES in 2008 and currently works as a Federal Research Scientist at the National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy. Contact: Alexandra.Hakala@netl.doe.gov

"Working as part of a multidisciplinary research team allowed me to learn skill sets that are directly applicable towards the large-scale multidisciplinary research performed through the US Department of Energy National Laboratories."

Where has your degree taken you?

An opportunity to work on unconventional energy research at the National Energy Technology Laboratory was advertised right before my official graduation in March 2008. Although very different from my PhD research (that focused on pesticide reactions in wetland sediments), I was interested in applying my knowledge of biogeochemistry towards addressing energy-related research in shale oil and gas. The opportunity to apply for a federal research scientist position focused on geochemistry-related subsurface research opened while I was a postdoc at NETL. Since becoming a federal scientist in 2009, I’ve been able to work on a wide range of research problems associated with carbon storage and unconventional oil and gas.

How do you feel that your experience, specifically as an SES/geology student at OSU, prepared you for your career or life in general?

Having an excellent research advisor (Yo Chin) and committee (Anne Carey, Steven Lower, Pat Hatcher) allowed me to learn about a wide range of topics associated with biogeochemistry from leading experts. Working as part of a multidisciplinary research team allowed me to learn skill sets that are directly applicable towards the large-scale multidisciplinary research performed through the US Department of Energy National Laboratories.

What is your favorite memory as a student?

Spending time collecting sediment cores and performing experimental work at the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve in Huron, OH.

What advice do you have for current and future students?

Explore different opportunities if you have interest early on in your careers, so you can gain perspective on where you want to focus your career in the future. Also apply this in your personal life… I took on amateur snowboardcross as an extracurricular and absolutely love it.