From prominent industries to health and safety organizations to hi-tech labs a mile underground, our research spans the globe.

At South Dakota Mines, research doesn’t always begin with a doctorate. Even freshmen dive in from day one, surveying underground and training with mine rescue teams at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, landing industry internships, or embarking on senior design projects focused on research and development.

Recent Grants Focus On Mine Safety and Industry Support


Improving Mine Ventilation

With the discovery of near-surface mineral deposits declining, exploring for deep-seated deposits and finding innovative ways to mine them is one solution to meet the ever-growing need. Awarded $1.25 million from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Assistant Professor Purushotham Tukkaraja, PhD, will design more advanced underground ventilation systems in underground block caving mines to create safer working environments and more profitable production for companies. Learn more about Tukkaraja’s research.


A Different Kind of Pipeline

Boasting industry experience stretching from North and South American to Africa, Associate Professor Andrea Brickey, PhD, is now applying her expertise to rebuilding the faculty pipeline in US universities. Brickey’s $300,000 SME award will fund undergraduate and graduate students to further her research on hi-tech simulation and mine planning, as well as professional development opportunities. Read more about Brickey’s industry background and research.

Just Up The Road

Located 40 miles away, in nearby Lead, SD, the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) provides opportunities for future mining research. Right now, South Dakota Mines physicists are part of an international team there conducting neutrino research a mile underground.

We are seeking an opportunity, given funding and approvals, to create a Mine Health and Safety Laboratory at SURF. This would allow a variety of research endeavors including ground control, ventilation, explosives, and worker health. There is currently have a proposal to NIOSH to look at biometrics for mine workers. The project would involve real-time sensors attached to the miner that would provide data on air quality, muscle stress, noise, worker fatigue, and location.


The Sanford Underground Research Facility is located at the former Homestake gold mine, donated by the Barrick Gold Corporation to South Dakota in 2006 for use as an underground laboratory. Inset Photo Credit: Matt Kapust, SURF