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.

Mammoths Under LA

SD Mines Alumna Ashley Leger, PhD.

Under Los Angeles’ streets, the clinks and clangs of construction meld with the rumblings of the subway line—an echo of rumblings tens of thousands of years old. Back then, LA teemed with life of a different sort. Saber-tooth cats, ancient camels, and mastodons roamed, many meeting their fate in the sticky pools of the La Brea Tar Pits or dying of natural causes, remaining undisturbed beneath the shimmer of LA. That is until paleontologist Ashley Leger (PhD Geol GeolE 16) got a call from a colleague working on the Purple Subway Line.

A skull had been discovered.  

Fresh from her PhD at Mines and now serving as the lead paleontologist for the Purple Line Extension, Leger took one look and knew it likely belonged to a young and/or female mastodon or mammoth, the Ice Age’s ancestral relative of the elephant. From there, the fossils poured forth. A mastodon tusk. Tooth fragments. Thigh bones. And an extremely rare forearm from a now-extinct camel. While LA is fertile ground for fossils, boasting thousands of dire wolves and saber-tooth cats, Leger says only about forty camels, or Camelops hesternus, have ever been unearthed from the tar pits.

The fact that anything was unearthed still astounds Leger. “Paleontologists estimate less than 1 percent of life on earth fossilizes.” A staggering amount of that fossilized life is found in LA. This area, anchored by the LA County M...

Last Edited 1/10/2018 08:13:55 AM [Comments (0)]

LLSM a 3D Window to the Unknown

Robert Anderson, Ph.D., with the LLSM

For most of human history, the existence of living cells was a complete mystery. Anton van Leeuwenhoek is credited with being the first person to view single-celled organisms. In 1674, he peered through a handmade microscope and described the algae Spirogyra. The subsequent publication of his work helped form the foundation of microbiology.

The science continued to advance alongside the microscope, but for hundreds of years much of the inner-workings of living cells have remained elusive and unknown. Cells exist in three dimensions, microscopes only produce images in two.   

Today, that's changing thanks to new techniques in optical microscopy, such as the 2014 invention of Lattice Light-Sheet Microscope (LLSM) by Nobel Laureate Eric Betzig, PhD. This breakthrough technique provides high-speed real-time 3D moving images from inside living cells without damaging them. This tool has the potential to push the boundaries of cellular biology and advance breakthroughs in medical science and biotechnology. The LLSM allows researchers to view cellular processes in a way they could not before.

Currently there are only a handful of these microscopes in the world, and one of them is at SD Mines.  

“SD Mines is very proud of many successes of our faculty and students who are working on the frontiers of science and engineering,” says SD Mines Interim President Jan Puszynski.<...

Last Edited 11/15/2017 11:03:34 AM [Comments (0)]

SD Mines BuG ReMeDEE Team Lands $6 Million Grant to Study Microbes of the Methane Cycle in Extreme Environments

Rajesh Sani, Ph.D., (right) asociate professor and Saurabh Dhiman, Ph.D., research scientist in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at SD Mines are two members of the BuG ReMeDEE team.

Researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology have been awarded a $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the range of microbes that consume methane in deep and extreme environments. The project is named Building Genome-to-Phenome Infrastructure for Regulating Methane in Deep and Extreme Environments (BuG ReMeDEE). This research (pronounced “bug remedy”) can help scientists better understand the methane cycle in natural extreme conditions, such as under Yellowstone National Park and in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF). The methane cycle is the generation and consumption of methane by various microbes.  Researchers will also study how some of these microbes can be used to convert methane into useable products and materials. 

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. This research will help scientists better understand the climatological impact of methane generated under places like Yellowstone and in other geothermic and fossil fuel beds.

“This BuG ReMeDEE consortium will garner the world’s attention on the significance of analyzing the methane regulation in deep-subsurface and extreme environments,” says Rajesh Sani, Ph.D., associate professor in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at SD Mines and the principal investigator of the initiative...

Last Edited 10/2/2017 03:02:35 PM [Comments (0)]

Killing Anthrax

Lori Groven, PhD, an assistant professor in the chemical and biological engineering department at SD Mines, is pioneering new ways to fight biological weapons.

In the weeks following the September 11th attacks, a series of letters containing anthrax spores arrived at media outlets and the offices of US Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. The acts of bioterrorism gripped the nation in confusion, anger, and fear. Scores were hospitalized and five people died. It was a senseless tragedy. But, it could have been much worse.

“Ten grams of anthrax spores could wipe out all of Washington, DC, and the surrounding area,” says Lori Groven, (BS ChE, MS ChE, PhD Nanoscience and Nanoengineering). “Biological weapons are scary for everybody, because it takes so little to do so much damage,” she adds. The minimum lethal dose for anthrax is estimated to be 5-10,000 spores, and one gram of anthrax contains well over a trillion spores. 

Groven is a research scientist and assistant professor in the chemical and biological engineering department at Mines. She and her team are part way through a five-year half-million-dollar grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The research has led to new materials and methods for combating bioterrorism.

One challenge Groven and her team have faced is the instability of the chemicals currently used to neutralize biological weapons. These compounds, or biocides, are made up mostly of a fuel and oxidizer (iodate) powder. They have a very short shelf life. “This stuff doesn’t age very well," says Groven. “If you put it out on the counter,...

Last Edited 9/16/2017 08:05:48 PM [Comments (0)]