RAPID CITY, S.D. (July 3, 2014) – Effective July 1, South
Dakota School of Mines & Technology President Heather Wilson joined the
South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) Board. Created by the
South Dakota State Legislature to foster scientific and technological investigations,
experimentation and development in the state, the SDSTA works with national
labs, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.
Governor Dennis Daugaard made the recommendation to create
an ex-officio position on the board for the School of Mines president during
the last Legislative session. The bill was passed unanimously by both houses of
the South Dakota Legislature and signed into law March 1.
“The School of Mines is a key player in the Sanford lab, and
President Wilson will be a particularly strong board member because of her
background and experience with national research programs,” said Daugaard.
The SD School of Mines has a strong working relationship
with the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab).
In 2013 the state funded a new Ph.D. in physics
at Mines and the University of South Dakota. The three faculty members hired
for the new program at Mines are engaged in ongoing experiments at Sanford
Mines chemistry faculty member Cabot-Ann
Christofferson and several Mines graduate students are helping create the
purest copper in the world for the Majorana Demonstrator experiment, located on
the 4850 Level. The experiment is searching for evidence of neutrinoless
double-beta decay. Its detection could help measure the mass of the neutrino.
A School of Mines team is collaborating with
researchers worldwide on the proposed far detector of the Long Baseline
Neutrino Experiment, a joint project between Sanford Lab and Fermi National
Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill.
Mines, in collaboration with Notre Dame and the
Colorado School of Mines, is the operations lead for the Compact Accelerator
System Performing Astrophysical Research (CASPAR), which is expected to be in
operation at Sanford Lab in 2015.
Mines faculty, in cooperation with RESPEC, a
geotechnical firm in Rapid City, are starting a new experiment to develop a
rock melt sealing system for a deep borehole in addition to previous
experiments in seismic sensors and rock strengths under extreme pressures.
“If we are successful, South Dakota will not just host these
world-class laboratory facilities in the former Homestake gold mine, South
Dakota students and faculty will be active participants and leaders in the
experiments that are done there. That requires close collaboration between
the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority and our
universities. I’m happy to help make that connection and advocate for the
advancement of science by serving on the board,” said Wilson.
SDSTA board members cited numerous reasons to recommend
Wilson as an ex-officio member, including the university’s key role in the
mine’s reopening and transition into an underground science facility, its
geographic proximity to Sanford Lab and the involvement of faculty in
experiments there through exceptional doctoral programs in physics and geology.
“I’m excited to have President Wilson join the SDSTA team,”
said Mike Headley, executive director of the SDSTA. “Her Department of Energy
and congressional experience will be great additions to our Board of Directors.
She will definitely be an asset in helping us shape the future of the Sanford
Underground Research Facility.”