News Release

Release Date: June 14, 2016

FE Welcomes 2016 Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship Interns


2016 Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship interns participating in a discussion during the June 13 kick-off event in Washington, D.C.

The Office of Fossil Energy’s (FE) Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) kicked off its 21st year yesterday with a class of 43 undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students joining one of the Energy Department’s premier educational programs. 

Participants include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors who will get hands-on experience in cutting-edge research at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve during their 10-week summer assignment.  They’ll also learn about policy and regulation, project finance, and strategic performance measures at FE Headquarters.  And they’ll gain insight into how the Department is working to meet the energy challenges of the future.

The annual fellowship program was created in 1995 to improve opportunities for under-represented students in the STEM fields.  The program was named after late Congressman Mickey Leland of Texas, a passionate advocate on a number of issues who died in a 1989 plane crash while on a mission to Ethiopia.  His widow, Alison Leland, delivered keynote remarks at this year’s day-long kick-off and orientation event in Washington, DC. 

Ms. Leland, the Associate Director of the Bonner Leaders Program and an Honors College instructor in political science at the University of Houston, remarked on the importance of the MLEF program.  Participants, she said, have a “chance to be on the inside.  You have the opportunity to see energy from a whole other perspective.”

She also noted that the interns were a part of her late husband’s legacy.  “He would be so thrilled about the group of students here today,” she said.   

Doug Hollett, FE’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary welcomed this year’s MLEF participants.  He noted that his career started in an internship and encouraged the students to “ask a lot of questions” as they work with their mentors.

The event also included panel discussions and remarks by Dr. Franklin Orr, Under Secretary for Science and Energy, who provided participants an overview of the Energy Department and its mission.  Neelesh Nerurkar, FE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas, outlined FE’s research areas.  Dr. Sean Plasynski, Acting Director for Laboratory Operations and Chief Operating Officer at NETL, spoke about the lab’s work. 

This year’s interns represent 35 colleges and universities from 20 states and the District of Columbia.  They’ll not only gain insight into the Energy Department’s critical work, they’ll also have the opportunity to make real and lasting contributions FE’s mission to ensure the safe and sustainable use of our Nation’s fossil energy resources.