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NETL Researchers Chosen as Science & Engineering Ambassadors

November 6, 2012 - 12:00pm


Washington, DC - Four researchers at the Office of Fossil Energy’s (FE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) have been chosen as Science & Engineering Ambassadors, with the goal of increasing public understanding and engagement with energy issues.

Science and Engineering Ambassadors (left to right): George Guthrie, Bryan Morreale, Alexandra Hakala, and Paul Ohodnicki

Science and Engineering Ambassadors (left to right): George Guthrie, Bryan Morreale, Alexandra Hakala, and Paul Ohodnicki

The new program, a pilot project of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, was created to build on the respect people hold for scientists and engineers and to address the need for a greater popular understanding of scientific issues, including energy.

Chosen from NETL’s Office of Research and Development are: 

Dr. George Guthrie, a mineralogist-geochemist and NETL Focus Area Lead for Geological & Environmental Sciences. Dr. Guthrie leads research in fossil-energy-related challenges including CO2 storage, unconventional fossil-fuel production, and shale-gas production.

Dr. Bryan Morreale, NETL’s acting Materials Science and Engineering Focus Area Lead. Dr. Morreale heads research activities related to both structural and functional materials for advanced energy-conversion applications.

Dr. Alexandra Hakala, aquatic and organic geochemist at NETL and adjunct assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Hakala is involved with a number of research projects focused on predicting potential changes to water quality due to shale-gas development and geologic CO2 sequestration.

Dr. Paul Ohodnicki Jr., engineer and materials scientist in the Chemistry and Surface Sciences Division at NETL. Dr. Ohodnicki works closely with the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University on research into high-temperature gas-sensing materials for fossil-energy applications.

The four will serve as interpreters and communicators of scientific research to the non-technical public. Pittsburgh was chosen for the pilot program because of the region’s position as a national center for energy conservation and research into coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar and wind power.

Overall, the pilot program will prepare and support 12 ambassadors, all of whom are energy experts from academia, industry, or government. The ambassadors will work closely with the public, especially with officials at local museums and science centers, business leaders, teachers, energy experts in universities and industry, members of the media, and local neighborhood leaders.

By educating and familiarizing the community with energy issues, the ambassadors will increase public understanding of energy-related topics and help those they meet become familiar with and engaged in discussing energy issues. The ambassadors also hope to gain valuable insight into the energy concerns of those living in the Pittsburgh area.

Eventually the academies intend to replicate the Pittsburgh program across the United Statesand launch ambassadors in other complex areas of science, engineering and medicine. The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering are private, nonprofit organizations that provide expert advice on challenges facing our nation and the world. For more information about the Science & Engineering Ambassadors Program, please visit the program website.