Research Inquiries

For inquiries related to SD Mines Research, contact:

Research Affairs

S.D. School of Mines & Technology
501 E. St. Joseph Street
Suite 102, O'Harra Building
Rapid City, SD  57701

(605) 394-2493



Research at Mines happens every day of the year, involves faculty and students at every academic level, and frequently includes collaboration across the state, the nation and the globe.

Study Finds Flooding Can Increase Mercury Levels in Some Lakes

Jim Stone, Ph.D. is one of the researchers on this study. He stands next to a fish consumption advisory warning on a lake in South Dakota.

A study by researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology on the concentration of mercury in the sediments of seven South Dakota lakes found that the pollutant generally enters the water bodies through runoff and can increase during times of flooding and lake expansion. 

The paper, titled “Historical sediment mercury deposition for select South Dakota, USA, lakes: implications for watershed transport and flooding,” was published this year in the Journal of Soils and Sediments.

Emissions from coal fired power plants are the main source of mercury pollution around the world. Mercury is distributed through the atmosphere until it settles on the land. Global deposition of mercury began with the start of the industrial revolution and peaked in the United States in the 1970s. The concentrations have gone down with emission reductions and pollution control in more recent decades. Historic mining and industrial operations are less common sources of mercury pollution.

The objective of the study was to determine the main source of mercury and to understand the history of mercury deposition on a diverse range of lakes in the state. The study included Wall Lake, West 81 Lake, Lynn Lake, Island Lake, Lake Hurley and Lake Sinai in the eastern part of the state, and Lake Isabel ...

Last Edited 8/1/2019 10:37:15 AM [Comments (0)]

SD Mines Researcher Develops New Technology to Detect Bone Loss in Astronauts, Potentially Screen for Early Cancers

Dr. Congzhou Wang characterizes biochips using an atomic force microscope in a lab on the campus of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City, SD.

RAPID CITY, SD (July 16, 2019) — Imagine using a simple, portable test to detect cancer before malignant tissues even begin to form, or to detect bone loss before it causes osteoporosis. For South Dakota School of Mines & Technology researcher Congzhou Wang, Ph.D., these ideas are becoming reality. 

“This is potentially a game-changer in terms of our ability to monitor and prevent disease,” says Wang.

Wang, an assistant professor in nanoscience and nanoengineering at SD Mines, has been awarded a $52,000 seed grant from SD NASA EPSCOR to research and develop a biochip to detect biomarkers indicating early osteoporosis. A biomarker is a biological molecule found in body fluids that signals disease or conditions in the body. These biochips use gold nanoparticles as sensors.

As a researcher in nanoscience and nanoengineering, Wang’s research focuses on nanomaterials – materials of incredibly small scale. For instance, the nanoparticles in his sensors are 1 to 100 nanometers in size, more than 1,000 times smaller than a human hair.

The eventual goal of Wang’s research is to provide a testing “strip” or “biochip” that can be used by astronauts in space to catch early osteoporosis biomarkers...

Last Edited 7/15/2019 02:25:49 PM [Comments (0)]

SD Mines Professor Receives Grant to Explore Creation of Solid-State Battery Research Center

Research scientist Abu Md Numan-Al-Mobin, Ph.D., is part of the team at SD Mines working to bring solid-state batteries to reality.

In 2016, half a million hoverboards were recalled after lithium ion batteries in some of the popular scooters burst into flames.

That same year, Samsung recalled its Galaxy Note 7 when the same type of batteries in some of those devices exploded and burned. The recall cost Samsung more than $10 billion.

With the U.S. lithium-ion battery market expected to reach $90 billion by 2025, Alevtina Smirnova, PhD, sees great value in fixing this battery problem.

“The reality is, conventional lithium-ion batteries are not safe or reliable,” says Smirnova, an associate professor of chemistry and applied biological sciences, and electrical and computer engineering at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

Conventional lithium-ion batteries contain flammable liquid that can become combustible when heated. Heating usually occurs due to a short circuit inside the battery. The end result in these cases is often fire or explosion. To make matters worse, the electrolyte inside lithium-ion batteries is mixed with a compound that burns the skin. In 2017, a young woman on an overseas flight received burns on her face when the batteries inside her headphones exploded.

Smirnova plans to...

Last Edited 8/1/2019 10:38:39 AM [Comments (0)]

New Tricks for an Old Dog--Wright Earns Doctorate at 71

Jerry Wright will graduate with a Ph.D. at age 71, almost 50 years after he completed his bachelor’s at Mines.

In 1966, Jerry Wright (CE 71) walked into the Civil / Mechanical Engineering Building on the Mines campus as an 18-year-old kid with an interest in engineering. Fifty years later, he came full circle when he walked through the doors again as a new PhD student.

“I had to learn a lot about stuff I never knew,” he jokes.

Any graduate degree involves a learning curve, but Wright brought a lifetime of experience to the table when he returned to Mines. His career as the leader of the Rapid City Solid Waste Division included expanding the municipal landfill to incorporate broad recycling and composting programs. Wright spent 27 years in the Army National Guard and Reserve, including a return to active duty after being called out of retirement to serve in Kuwait.  “I thank my kids for offering to co-sign my student loans,” he says with a smile. “But the GI Bill paid for my education.”

His doctoral dissertation is an extension of his career in environmental engineering. His core idea is to work with Mother Nature to conserve irrigation water by spreading compost on crop and grazing land.

The draft dissertation begins with the words “On a dark and stormy night,” an appropriate opening for a thesis tied to the hydrologic cycle, which he notes is “a natural phenomenon beyond the control of human beings.”  Putting compost to more widespread use is something Wright cam...

Last Edited 5/2/2019 10:01:41 AM [Comments (0)]