Mines News

Release Date Friday, March 11, 2016

Mines Hosts Student Physicists: Lab Tours Scheduled for Campus, Sanford

The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead is searching for elusive dark matter, which is believed to make up 80 percent of the mass of the universe.

Photo credit: Matt Kapust, Sanford Underground Research Facility

RAPID CITY, S.D. (March 11, 2016) – The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology will host student physicists from five states at this weekend’s annual regional meeting of the Society of Physics Students.

The meeting begins this evening and continues through Sunday, March 13. Students from colleges and universities in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota will participate in discussions on the laws of nature and tour laboratories on the Mines campus and the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead.

On Saturday participants will visit several physics laboratories at South Dakota Mines, including the new Particle Astrophysics Research Lab.

On Saturday, Richard Schnee, Ph.D., will present a seminar at 2 p.m. on “Overcoming Challenges in the Search for Dark Matter,” and Luke Corwin, Ph.D., will lead an evening question-and-answer session. Both are among South Dakota Mines faculty researchers who are leaders in dark matter and neutrino experiments. Vladimir Sobolev, Ph.D., head of the university’s physics department, will open the Zone 11 meeting with a welcome at 8:30 a.m. Michael Dowding, advisor to the SD Mines Students for the Society of Physics, will lead tours of the Mines physics department and campus laboratories. 

On Sunday participants will tour the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, where experiments are being conducted a mile below the Earth’s surface. Frank Strieder, Ph.D., will discuss “Stellar Nucleosynthesis between Iron & Uranium.” Strieder, a South Dakota Mines faculty researcher, is leading the collaborative Compact Accelerator System Performing Astrophysical Research (CASPAR) project, which will mimic explosions in stars to better understand the elements of the universe.

Additionally, Mines has major collaborating roles in other international experiments being conducted at the Sanford laboratory. They include the current and next-generation Large Underground Xenon (LUX)-ZEPLIN experiments in search of dark matter, the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment involving the world’s highest-intensity beam 800 miles long between the Sanford laboratory and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago, and the Majorana Demonstrator project, which could ultimately help to resolve if the neutrino is its own anti-particle.

Doug Wells, Ph.D., a nuclear physicist at Mines and dean of graduate education, will speak on campus at noon Sunday.

The SD Mines Society of Physics Students chapter was recently awarded the Distinguished Chapter award for 2014-2015. Selection of this award was based on an assessment of SPS activities conducted by the chapter and its annual report.


About SD Mines  

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,778 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate is 96 percent, with an average starting salary of $62,929. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on Facebook and Twitter.


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