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.

High Impact Hardrockers: Valentine McGillycuddy

Valentine T. McGillycuddy

This mini-biography of Dr. Valentine T. McGillycuddy, first to hold the title of President of the South Dakota Mines, was authored by Mines alumnus Dr. Donn Lobdell, (ME 58).  It’s part of our High Impact Hardrockers series looking at Mines alumni who have had an impact on history.

Valentine T. McGillycuddy was born on February 14th, 1849, in Racine, Wisconsin, to an Irish immigrant couple who met on the ship, bringing them to the USA. In the tradition of the Irish and the times, he was christened for the Patron Saint of his birthdate. We know little of his early life other than he had education well beyond the average of the time. He was to go on to become one of those larger-than-life characters who seem to have been more places, known more people, and done more things than most.

He attended university and qualified as a physician at the age of 20. He worked for several years as an attending physician at a municipal hospital in Detroit. His health suffered, and doctors recommended that he find outdoor work to recover it.

He had taken some engineering courses during his university training.  He joined the Great Lakes District engineering staff just in time to work on the rebuilding of Chicago following the great fire. His work being of high order, he was given the opportunity to join the Northern Boundary Survey (NBS). This was probably because he represented a “double-dip....

Last Edited 10/21/2020 04:00:00 PM [Comments (0)]

The Science of Swords - a History of Bladesmithing at Mines

Mike West, Ph.D., holds the international award winning thirty-four-inch, single-edged blade sword that is based on the Arhus Farm sword from 10th century Norway.

In the summer of 2006 a high school student, Kevin Gray (MetE 11), did something that could have landed him in trouble. He toured the Mines campus with an eight-inch knife in his backpack. Gray had no malicious intent, rather he was excited to show the Damascus steel blade that he had forged in his garage to a professor of metallurgy. Little did Gray know that his actions would spark a series of events that would change the face of the Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering at Mines and earn the program international acclaim.

At the end of the tour for prospective students, Jon Kellar PhD, (MetE 84), who was department head at the time, asked Gray why he was interested in Mines. “He pulled this knife wrapped in cloth out of his backpack,” says Kellar. Damascus steel blades have been around for centuries. They’re easy to identify by the swirled steel patterns that result from a labor-intensive process of repeatedly heating, hammering, and folding the steel. Kellar became intrigued. “We were low on student enrollment at the time,” he says, “We were trying to find a solution, and this seemed like a good way to outreach.” Kellar and professors Dana Medlin, PhD, and Michael West, PhD, developed a plan to integrate more hands-on experiences into the curriculum. Students could make items out of metal, like Damascus steel blades, and study the scientific properties of the steel they were working along the way.

Last Edited 10/5/2020 07:51:01 PM [Comments (0)]

South Dakota Mines Leads New Big Data Effort to Probe Mysteries of the Universe with Observatory at the South Pole

IceCube winter-over scientist Yuya Makino walks to work at the IceCube Lab at the South Pole. This new NSF project, led by South Dakota Mines, uses data from this lab and other detectors with cutting-edge big data techniques to push the very frontiers of astronomy. Photo courtesy of Y. Makino, IceCube/NSF.

South Dakota Mines received a $6 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to enhance big data processing and astronomical capabilities of the world’s largest neutrino observatory, IceCube, located at the geographic South Pole. The research will attempt to answer a fundamental question that has puzzled scientists for more than a century regarding the origin of subatomic cosmic particles that carry visible energy. 

The four-year project titled “RII Track-2 FEC: The IceCube EPSCoR Initiative (IEI) - IceCube and the Data Revolution” brings together scientists from South Dakota Mines, University of Alabama, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Delaware, University of Kansas and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The team of researchers will work to solve challenges facing Multi-Messenger Astronomy (MMA) – this new form of astronomy integrates the various types of signals coming in from outer-space to paint the most-clear picture possible of our universe. The project is funded through NSF EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research). EPSCoR’s mission is to advance excellence in science and engineering research and education in its jurisdictions.

“Astronomy has enormous i...

Last Edited 10/19/2020 01:19:33 PM [Comments (0)]

Building a Legacy of Excellence: Gadhamshetty reflects on his NSF CAREER Award

Dr. Venkataramana Gadhamshetty holds a vial containing a piece of metal covered in an ultra-thin coating that makes it resistant to corrosion. This is one of the achievements that has evolved from his 2015 National Science Foundation CAREER award.

In 2015, Venkata Gadhamshetty, Ph.D., achieved a level of success known by a relatively small number of researchers when he landed a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award. Five years later, the hard work of Gadhamshetty and his collaborators is paying off with about $34 million in funded research across multiple fields. 

The goal of the NSF CAREER program is to empower early career scientists to open doors to entirely new directions of research. Gadhamshetty’s work involves emerging classes of materials that can aid in everything from building ultralight vehicles, to protective coatings for metals, to new ways to harness and store energy from the natural world and more. His research on generating electricity from defective tomatoes brought acclaim from the History Channel and worldwide media attention. 

One of his main goals is to better understand how microbes interact with matter on the atomic level and how this understanding could aid engineering applications. “These are questions that could engage thousands of people in this research for years to come,” he say...

Last Edited 9/1/2020 05:05:06 PM [Comments (0)]