Hillman State Park 1…. Adit 0…..

Hey All!

So much as happened since the last time I posted!  I was finally able to get out in the field and I got to see more of Pittsburgh. I’m starting to really love this city so much to do and see!

Our studies are being conducted in Hillman State Park, which is approximately 3,600-acres. About 25 miles west of Pittsburgh, it is right outside the city. In this area there are numerous amounts of abandon wells, the problem lies that they were not properly managed and the state only has location data for a small portion of these wells. So the first step for the researchers on my team was to find them. The method they utilized was a evaluation that required a helicopter that is attached with magnets to pick up trace amounts of metal in the field. Even though this test is helpful, it picks up all metal traces so researchers had to physically get on foot to filter out what were not wells. After they found the actual wells they used a handled device to determine if there was a methane leak. They also rated the sites on how easy it was to access the area. 1 being the most accessible and 5 being the least.

Hillman State park map

Prior to going out in the field, I was told to come up with a game plan of what sites we will be collecting data at. By looking at prior data sets and maps I choose sites that was easy to access and that was determined to have significant leaks. I was also informed numerous times to prepare for the field.

Long pants…check….boots…check…hat…check…bug spray…check….water…check…

One thing that was hammered into me was the tick epidemic. Having prior experience working in the field, I thought this time around it was going to be the same so I wasn’t worried.

Boy was I wrong!…..

During the first day I conducted a resistivity survey on one of my sites to detect and map subsurface features and patterning because this particular well was buried underground.  Most of the day was spent setting up this large survey and then waiting for the data to be slowly collected.  I was able to learn a lot about geophysics during my first day. The other two researchers used this time to explore new sites. Working in the sun all day took its toll and I fell asleep at 7pm!

Day 2 was a lot more fun! All the sites we went to had wellheads above ground. Seeing the abandon gas and oil wells was like walking into history. Its so crazy to think that these sites were built in the 1800s!  It really put the work that my PCGS peers and I are doing into perspective. We are just now trying to rectify past mistakes. I cant imagine the massive workload future researchers will have for the mistakes we are currently making. On this day I got to use all the equipment that my team brings to the field. It was a really productive day and we determined some of the sites was emitting significant amounts of methane.  Day 2 came with complications as I found a small black tick in my arm, which was frustrating and scary since I took the steps to prevent such a thing.  You don’t even feel it in your skin! I completely underestimated the tick epidemic this area has!


The next day I went to the occupational health clinic at work and got a deer tick cut out of me and was put on precautionary antibiotics. One of the researchers had two cut out of him.  Hillman state park 1…. Adit…0!  I am fine now but I definitely learned my lesson. Its a occupational hazard that you just cant see coming.


Aside from that scare, I was able to explore the city and fit in some fun activities!  I went to a Pirates game and also went to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. I could spend days at the conservatory so many cool and interesting plants. I was able to learn a lot about sustainable plants which I know my PCGS peers would have enjoyed as well!

ballgamepiartesbotanical gardenstadiumpncPittsburghPiratessnap

I am so excited to continue my research in the following weeks! As everyday passes and with every new experience my believe of how important the work my fellow PCGS peers are doing strengthens. The future of the world is in our hands! So excited and proud to say I’m part of this community of sustainable minded individuals.

Until Next Time Everyone!

NETL (Week 1)


Hey All!

What a year its been! 3 months ago I got the email that would change my life completely….

“Congratulations Adit Patel you have been selected as a Mickey Leland Energy Fellow” This statement would resonate with me for the rest of the semester, and not until I finished my first week did the gravity of the situation set in. I was going from talking about climate change to actively fighting it!

During my 10 week stint, I will be working for the National Energy Technology Labortory (NETL) where I will be looking at abandoned oil and gas wells which provide a potential pathway for methane emissions to the atmosphere. Just in the United States alone, there are estimated 3 million wells! Methane emissions from these wells are the second largest potential contribution to total US methane emissions above US Environmental Protection Agency estimates and are not included in any emissions inventories. Since there are no studies to estimate the potential of these emissions, the work I will be doing not only has national signifince but also a global one. Abandon wells such as these have significant climate change implications.

My first week was full of training, everything from cybersecurity to lab safety. The tradeoff for working for the Government. There are 13 fellows at the Pittsburg site, all from various schools and states around the country. It is such a good feeling to be around motivated and hardworking individuals, we all are working on different projects that play to our strengths and experiences. Its only been a week but I know the relationships we are building will last long after our internship is over.

To cap off the first week, we took a roadtrip to Washington D.C. for a Mickey Leland Kick off/Orientation event at the Department of Energy headquarters, where I got to meet the other fellows who are serving appointments in all the different DOE sites around the nation. Being in the presence of some of the best and brightest students around the country was so empowering. During the event we had the privilege of meeting various DOE leaders too. Two in particular were Christopher Smith, and Dr. Bochenek who are the Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy and the Director of the National Energy Technology Laboratories respectively. It was such a good feeling to hear from the leadership how meaningful and important our research will be. After the meeting, we took a tour of the U.S. Capital building. I also was able to catch up with my good friend and classmate Jared Huffman who is doing his program internship with the World Health Organization.

I am so honored to represent Patel College of Global Sustainability during my 10 week stint. I will be going out in the field this week to start my research and Im looking forward to sharing my experiences in my next blog post

Until next time everyone!