Spotlight: Ale Hakala


Federal Research Scientist at U.S. Department of Energy,

2008 PhD Graduate


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 offcial graduation in March 2008. Although very different from my Ph.D. research which 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 postdoctoral researcher 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 did your experience as an SES student prepare you for the future?

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 skillsets that are directly applicable towards the large-scale multidisciplinary research performed through the U.S. Department of ENergy National Laboratories.

Most memorable experience as an SES student?

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