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.

Finding the Flame in the Flaming Fountain

Logan Kocab attaching the air intake line to the fountain casing.

The Flaming Fountain is an important component of the South Dakota veteran’s memorial site at Capitol Lake next to the state capitol building in Pierre. The Flaming Fountain is a water well that was drilled back in 1910 and completed in the Dakota aquifer at a depth of 1280 feet. The well is uncapped and free-flowing, driven by artesian pressure in the aquifer. Until recently, enough natural methane gas was produced with the water to sustain a flame, giving the fountain its name.  This flame no longer burns continuously, snuffing out within hours to days after being re-lit.

Stacy Langdeau, PE, the State Engineer and an SD Mines graduate inquired if the Geology and Geological Engineering (GGE) Department at SD Mines had any interest in investigating the now non-Flaming Fountain. Coincidentally, a methane sensor had recently been transferred to SD Mines from the U.S. Department of Energy to investigate the occurrence of stray gas in drinking water aquifers in the vicinity of fracked shale gas wells. The engineers at DOE had not gotten the unit operational, so several SD Mines graduate students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE) took on the task. They included Md Raqibull Hasan, Saeed Shahmiri, and Sandesh Acharya.  Each contributed to solving a significant piece of the puzzle, and Sandesh was eventually able to resolve issues with the datalogger and controller, bringing the unit up to operational status....

Last Edited 4/22/2019 02:34:28 PM [Comments (0)]

SD Mines Receives Imaging Scientist Grant for Cutting-Edge Live Cell Imaging

Brandon Scott, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in Nanoscience and Nanoengineering at SD Mines, adjusts part of the Lattice Light Sheet Microscope (LLSM) used to make dynamic 3D movies showing the inner workings of living cells.

Brandon Scott, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher in Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, and  affiliated with the imaging core of BioSystems Networks / Translational Research, or BioSNTR (pronounced "bio-center") at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, is one of 17 scientists in the United States to be supported by a $17-million dollar grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) to select imaging centers across the country. The grant will support Scott to continue his work on cutting-edge imaging science using the Lattice Light Sheet Microscope (LLSM) and a suite of state-of-the-art imaging tools established by the imaging core of BioSNTR at SD Mines.

The centerpiece of the application was 3D imaging of living cells using the LLSM. This powerful tool allows the visualization of life at the cellular level in ways previously not possible, giving researchers the ability to view the inner workings of cells dynamically. The work could have impact on a wide range of medical research, from immunotherapy to cancer research. These new imag...

Last Edited 3/20/2019 03:49:54 PM [Comments (0)]

Mines Student Helps Photons Travel on Communication Highway

Abbi Elger

Abbi Elger’s enthusiasm for science is captivating.

Elger, who is working in the physics department at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, is a participant in DOE’s Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) program coordinated by the Lab’s Office of Educational Programs.

“Since I was a kid, I have been curious about how our universe works. I especially find the fields of astronomy and quantum physics totally fascinating. I am thrilled that I get to work at Brookhaven and be surrounded by amazing scientists who share my interests and teach me something new every day,” said Elger.

Under the direction of her mentor, Brookhaven physicist Andrei Nomerotski, Elger is working on a quantum science project in collaboration with Stony Brook University (SBU) that may help communications become “hack proof.”

“We are capturing data related to entangled photons,” said Elger. “Currently, entangled photons—two photons that are produced together and correlated—can only travel over short distances. To advance the methods of encrypted communication that are currently available and to connect quantum devices, our goal is to send entangled photons over long distances, such as from Brookhaven to  Stony Brook University or even from New York to California.”

“Abbi was a perfect fit for this project,” said Nomerotski. “She is v...

Last Edited 3/20/2019 03:19:20 PM [Comments (0)]

SD Mines Seismometer Upgrade Allows Geologists to Detect Earthquakes Around the World

Kevin Ward, Ph.D., assistant professor of geology and geological engineering at Mines points to a small seismograph that replaces all the older instruments inside the seismograph station on campus

On the afternoon of Jan. 5, 2019, the remote jungle of Acre, Brazil began to shake. The trees swayed, the ground moved up and down and animals scurried for cover. At 2:25 p.m. local time, the Seismological Observatory of the University of Brasilia registered a magnitude 6.8 (Mww) quake with an epicenter 55 miles west of Tarauaca, Brazil, and 204 miles east of Pucallpa, Peru with depth of 575 kilometers.

Minutes later, a tiny device, inside a concrete bunker at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology registered the same earthquake–and an email alert is sent to the phone of Kevin Ward, Ph.D., assistant professor of geology and geological engineering at Mines. “I can see earthquakes around the world,” says Ward.

The Mines seismographic bunker was built into the side of a hill behind campus in 1960. It includes a pillar of concrete that extends 25 feet into the ground the connects the bunker with the earth. For decades the seismometers in this bunker were part of the USGS Global Seismographic Network. But, as the university and the town of Rapid City grew–the level of local noise and vibrations interfered with the older mechanical seismometers. These instruments are so sensitive to vibration they can pick up trains, cars, and even footsteps near...

Last Edited 3/11/2019 11:42:49 AM [Comments (0)]