Alex­andra “Ale” Hakala is an award-winning geoscientist at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. | Photo from the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

National Energy Technology Laboratory’s (NETL’s) Alexandra Hakala has been honored with a Great Minds in STEM™ Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation (HENAAC) award for Outstanding Technical Achievement.

Dr. Hakala serves as the technical coordinator for shale gas research, managing multiple projects within NETL’s Office of Research and Development. She leads two research teams in addition to performing her own research. One of these teams is developing knowledge that could lead to computational models for predicting risks associated with shale gas development. This could lead to higher confidence that processes used to tap the United States’ abundant gas shale reservoirs are environmentally safe. The second team is studying reactions that may occur along fractured pathways in a geothermal reservoir and developing detailed models of physical changes expected in unique geothermal systems.

Dr. Hakala’s separate, ongoing research is in geologic CO2 storage. Results from this research can be implemented into water quality prediction models to protect groundwater in areas near CO2 injection sites.

According to NETL Director Anthony Cugini, in just 3 years as a research scientist at NETL, “Dr. Hakala has emerged as a talented scientist, gifted leader, and an articulate ambassador for our Laboratory’s research, its programs, and the importance of our work to the energy sector of the United States.”

In her free time, Dr. Hakala communicates her research to a wide audience through her published papers and national and international conference presentations, making a significant contribution to ongoing conversations on energy research. She also guides young scientists as they pursue graduate and post-graduate degrees, devoting time to her interns to ensure that they complete their thesis and lab work and have someone to depend on for career advice.

Dr. Hakala will receive her award at the 24th Annual HENAAC Conference, “STEM, Excellence, and the Pursuit of Innovation,” on October 12, 2012. Great Minds in STEM™ considers nominees for their awards to be “top role models” in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and uses the HENAAC awards to “promote and highlight Hispanic engineers and scientists.” These awards spotlight rising stars in STEM to encourage the next generation to pursue careers in these fields and motivate current STEM innovators to continue to connect with their Hispanic heritage.