News Releases

SD Mines President Wilson Joins Science and Technology Authority Board
Release Date Thursday, July 3, 2014

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 Lab.

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.”