Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, October 31, 2023

South Dakota Mines Joins Prestigious Universities Research Association

South Dakota Mines physics doctoral student Jairo Rodriguez and mechanical engineering master’s student Kole Pickner test optical fibers by submerging them in liquid nitrogen to determine how well they will perform in DUNE.

South Dakota Mines has been elected to the Universities Research Association (URA). Per the organization’s website, their mission is to “establish and operate – in the national interest – unique laboratories and facilities for research, development and education in the physical and biological sciences to expand the frontiers of knowledge, foster innovation and promote the education of future generations of scientists.”

The URA has been involved in several complex scientific endeavors, including the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), which is being constructed at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, SD. Together with the University of Chicago, the URA operates the Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory, the institution responsible for the DUNE project.

“That is certainly a large part of why the Universities Research Association was so interested in us joining,” says Richard Schnee, physics professor at South Dakota Mines (SDM). “DUNE is going to be, by many different measures, the largest science experiment in the United States. We have three excellent young faculty in our physics department working on DUNE.”

The URA was interested in adding expertise to the DUNE project not only in physics, but also engineering, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. These are areas that have been expanded at SDM.

“There are opportunities for faculty to collaborate with experts at Fermilab and take advantage of a lot of the infrastructure and facilities that the national labs have that are not possible here on campus,” Schnee says, adding that the URA is an excellent opportunity for SDM faculty researchers to get involved with other experts across the nation.

The URA and Fermilab have grants to pay salary and travel expenses for faculty, research scientists, students and postdoctoral fellows to work at Fermilab. The URA runs a similar program with Sandia National Laboratory. “That is something we are going to take advantage of,” Schnee says.

There are over 90 research organizations within the URA, including Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale and the University of Michigan. South Dakota Mines is the only South Dakota university that is a member.


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Ann Brentlinger, 605-394-1604, Ann.Brentlinger@sdsmt.edu