May 27, 2021
Staff Accomplishment

PNNL’s Alison Colotelo Joins Hydropower Foundation Board

Scientist has broad background in hydropower research and STEM education

Alison Colotelo

Alison Colotelo

(Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Alison Colotelo, a senior research scientist and project manager at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), has been named to the Hydropower Foundation’s advisory board.

She is the only representative from a national laboratory on the 11-member foundation body. Other advisory board members represent regulatory agencies, utilities, hydropower facilities, and private investment firms.

Alison stewards PNNL’s Waterpower System Science and Engineering capability and has more than a decade of experience researching the effects of hydropower on fish. Her PNNL work started with evaluating the effects of turbine and dam passage in lab and field studies for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Alison is leveraging her experience to currently lead HydroPASSAGE, a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Water Power Technologies Office, which focuses on improving downstream fish passage through turbines and hydropower structures.

In the last five years, Alison has expanded her research to a broad array of hydropower projects. She is currently working with a diverse group of stakeholders from the hydropower community to reimagine the Hydropower Vision Roadmap, a set of detailed activities recommended to advance sustainable conventional and pumped storage hydropower in the United States. She also plays a key role in a DOE initiative called HydroWIRES—Hydropower and Water Innovation for a Resilient Electricity System, which is designed to clarify hydropower’s role in the evolving electric grid.

As a Science & Technology Liaison to PNNL’s Office of STEM Education, Alison leads the PNNL Teacher-Scientist Partnership program to provide tools for teachers to develop the future science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce and serves as a STEM Ambassador. Alison recently collaborated with the Benton Conservation District to execute a virtual Salmon Summit—the culminating event for the Salmon in the Classroom curriculum. This year’s in-person event was cancelled because of COVID-19; however, 40 classrooms tuned in via Zoom to watch Alison and a team of PNNL researchers tag and release 500 juvenile salmon into the Columbia River.

“As leader of the Hydropower Vision and a passionate STEM advocate, Alison Colotelo was a perfect fit to bring her unique perspectives to the Hydropower Foundation, an organization founded on research with a focus on students,” said T.J. Heibel, a water power and geothermal program manager.

As a member of the foundation board, Alison is looking forward to participating in STEM education and workforce development opportunities. An estimated 33 percent of the hydropower community is expected to need to be replaced by 2030. Alison sees STEM education as critical to the future of the hydropower workforce.

“Over the next decade, the hydropower community will need researchers and tradespeople with a wide range of skills, including operating dams, and bringing innovative ideas to cybersecurity and materials science,” Alison said. “If we can ignite the curiosity in students now, we can support the workforce pipeline to support the future of hydropower.”