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.

The Potential Power of Autonomous Flying Swarms

Shankarachary Ragi, Ph.D. an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Mines holds three hummingbird sized drones that his team is working with.

If you’ve ever marveled at a flock of birds moving in complex patterns as if it were one single large organism, you’re not alone. Researchers at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology are working to infuse similar cooperative behavior on a collection of flying robots. This is not an easy task, birds have millions of years of evolution that allow them to flock, researchers developing swarm robotics are writing mathematical models to mimic some of this behavior. Developing the ability for drones to work together in swarms could have wide-ranging applications­—from agriculture to military use. But many scientific hurdles remain.

“These decision-making problems are very challenging because each independent robot in the swarm has to predict how others will behave in the future and then make its own decisions accordingly,” says Shankarachary Ragi, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at SD Mines who is leading the research. Ragi and his team are helping to develop mathematical models, or algorithms, that enable these kinds of cooperative behaviors in drones.

Decades ago, computer scientists realized they could build a virtual supercomputer by making several normal- sized computers work together in a n...

Last Edited 2/12/2019 08:11:08 AM [Comments (0)]

Dinosaurs: A Catalyst for Critical Thought

Darrin Pagnac, Ph.D., holds a model of a Triceratops skull.

Since the mid-1800s dinosaurs have been a source of fascination and inspiration — from children’s coloring books to Hollywood blockbusters, these extinct animals hold a unique place in the American psyche. The immense popularity of dinosaurs also makes them an excellent conduit for teaching the critical thinking skills needed in basic science and engineering literacy.

Darrin Pagnac, Ph.D., is a South Dakota School of Mines & Technology associate professor of geology specializing in paleontology. His latest work, “Dinosaurs: A Catalyst for Critical Thought,” published by Cambridge University Press, shows that passion for dinosaurs, when properly directed, can trigger interest in science and be used to develop critical thinking skills.

Each spring Pagnac teaches a course called “Dinosaurs,” which attracts a wide range of students from various fields of study. “We have a number of students who get fired up emotionally about dinosaurs,” he says. In this class, Pagnac helps students confront preconceived notions that he calls “Jurassic Park Syndrome.” This is where student’s views of paleontology and sciences are shaped...

Last Edited 1/26/2019 10:43:00 AM [Comments (0)]

Lasers Light the Way to New Technologies

Steve Smith, Ph.D., professor and director of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering at the SD Mines, works with student Laura Brunmaier.

This year, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three individuals for “groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics”: Arthur Ashkin with Bell Laboratories in the United States; Gerard Mourou of the École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and Donna Strickland from the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Steve Smith, who earned his Ph.D. doing research in a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center directed by Mourou at the University of Michigan, was pleased to hear Mourow was receiving a share of the Nobel Prize.

“It’s nice he received a part of this prize. But it also gives acknowledgement to a lot of people in different areas of laser physics. That’s usually how it works—one person gets the prize but there are hundreds of people doing similar work that is very impactful, and this elevates their research as well,” said Smith, who is a professor and director of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SD Mines).

At Deep Talks: Nobel Day, Smith will discuss the topics relating to this year's Nobel Prize in Physics, including Mourou’s work in the field of laser physics and how it has impacted a variety of scientific and technologica...

Last Edited 11/27/2018 09:51:18 AM [Comments (0)]

Remote Monitoring Stations Established at SD Mines in Build Up to DUNE

SD Mines physics graduate students and faculty at the remote monitoring station on campus include (left to right) Bhubnesh Lama, Luke Corwin, Ph.D., David A. Martinez Caicedo, Ph.D., Jairo Rodriguez and Michelle While.

Researchers in the Department of Physics at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology are setting up new remote monitoring stations that allow them to take part in the international experiments MicroBooNE and NOvA.  Both world-class experiments are investigating properties of neutrinos, one of nature’s most elusive particles. Both projects are also led by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Neutrinos rarely interact with other particles; they can pass through the entire planet as if it were empty space. In order to study such particles, scientists need to create an intense beam of them and send them continuously through a large detector for long periods of time. Because of the need for intense beams, these experiments are said to take place at the Intensity Frontier of particle physics.

These experiments are on the cutting edge of particle physics research.  They are part of a series of sophisticated neutrino research projects that include the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), hosted by Fermilab, which will see a massive particle detector built a mile b...

Last Edited 11/20/2018 05:04:42 PM [Comments (0)]