Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Physics Senior Takes Underground Research to the Capitol

RAPID CITY, S.D. (March 1, 2016) – Joe VanDriel, a senior physics major at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, is presenting his underground research at the State Capitol in Pierre today at the 2016 Student Research Poster Session.

VanDriel is in his second semester on the Compact Accelerator System Performing Astrophysical Research (CASPAR) project, a multi-university collaboration being conducted a mile below the Earth’s surface at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead. The CASPAR accelerator will help researchers mimic nuclear fusion in stars to help complete scientists’ understanding of the mechanisms that generate energies in stars, the number of neutrinos produced in the Sun and how elements in the universe are built.

CASPAR’s principal investigator is Frank Strieder, Ph.D., of South Dakota Mines’ physics department. The collaboration includes Colorado School of Mines and the University of Notre Dame.

Above ground, VanDriel assembled and tested a CASPAR vacuum system before disassembling and shipping it underground. In the Sanford facility’s CASPAR laboratory underground VanDriel helped assemble a beam line and install the accelerator in preparation for when the experiment begins taking data this summer.

VanDriel, from Mitchell, is among 13 undergraduate student researchers from South Dakota colleges and universities at the State Capitol sharing their research with state lawmakers and the public until 3 p.m. in the State Capitol Rotunda.

Now in its 19th year, the event showcases research and creative activities of undergraduate students, as well as highlights successful faculty research and commercialization efforts. The session is organized by the South Dakota Board of Regents, South Dakota’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.


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.


Contact: Fran LeFort, (605) 394-6082, Fran.LeFort@sdsmt.edu