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@Mines - by Subject
Marine Life

Powerful Bugs: Harnessing the Electric Eels of the Microbial World

“We’re studying the electric eels of the microbial world,” says Navanietha Krishnaraj, Ph.D., a research scientist in the Chemical and Biological Engineering department at SD Mines. - Photo Credit NOAA

Researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology are studying ways to harness electricity generated by a unique set of microbes. 

“We’re studying the electric eels of the microbial world,” says Navanietha Krishnaraj, Ph.D., a research scientist in the Chemical and Biological Engineering department at SD Mines.

Researchers, such as Venkata Gadhamshetty, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at SD Mines, and his team including Namita Shrestha, Ph.D., are working on maximizing the efficiency of what’s known as bioelectrochemical systems. By understanding the right combination of microbes and materials it’s possible to harness clean energy for widespread use in various applications.

Possible outcomes of this research include new ways to generate electricity and treat solid waste during NASA space missions, the ability for a wastewater treatment plants to help generate electricity while turning effluent into clean water, a new way to clean saline wastewater generated in oil drilling operations, and better ways to turn food waste, like tomatoes and corn stover into elec...

Last Edited 8/30/2018 01:53:43 PM [Comments (0)]

SD Mines Paleontologist Lands Fulbright Scholarship to Study Invasive Species Impact

SD Mines alumnus Broc Kokesh has received a Fulbright Scholarship to study invasive species impact in Jamaica.

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology alumnus Broc Kokesh has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Kokesh graduated with a master’s degree in paleontology in May. This Fulbright award takes him to Jamaica.  

Kokesh is studying how an ecosystem responds following the introduction of an invasive species. His work compares diversity between living mollusk (clams, snails, etc.) communities and co-occurring dead shells from the Kingston Harbor. His research examines the ecological effects of invasive green mussels, which were introduced in 1998 via ballast water from shipping traffic. However, since about 2010, green mussels appear to have receded in abundance for reasons unknown. Questions remain as to how the invasion affected native fauna, and Kokesh brings a paleontological perspective by focusing on dead shell diversity. Human-introduced invasive species are a global problem and this research may lend insight to invasive species management and impact in other parts of the world. 

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropri...

Last Edited 8/3/2018 03:15:52 PM [Comments (0)]

Mines Researchers Study Kootenai River Pollutants in Montana, Other Areas

South Dakota Mines student Emily Stickney conducts research on pollutants in the Kootenai River in Montana

A recent award by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is funding South Dakota School of Mines & Technology research on how changes in land use increase pollutants and influence the health of the Kootenai River and Lake Koocanusa in Montana, Idaho and British Columbia.

Recent land use changes in the Kootenai River watershed include increased coal mining and alterations to agricultural practices.

Dr. Lisa Kunza of the Department of Chemistry & Applied Biological Sciences, is heading a collaborative research team that includes students, other university partners, and agency collaborators. The team has already received $160,000 and is expecting to receive up to $400,000 for its efforts over the next five years.

Selenium and nitrate loads are on the rise in the Kootenai River as it enters Lake Koocanusa. Selenium is a metal found in natural deposits and may be exposed during mining activity. In 2012 alone, selenium loads into the river exceeded 29,000 pounds, a five-fold increase since 1992. There is heightened concern about possible buildup of selenium in fish tissue. Nitrate loads have increased substantially as well and may alter the resources available for fisheries. 

Endangered Kootenai White Sturgeon and other organisms in the river and reservoir could also be affected by the pollutants.

Emily Stickney from Boise, Idaho, is among the undergraduate and graduate student researchers ...

Last Edited 1/17/2017 09:45:02 AM [Comments (0)]

Amazon Research

In the Amazon River, three distinct water types collect to create a uniquely rich breeding ground for extreme aquatic life.

Laurie Anderson Explores How Marine Clams Found Their Way Into one of the World’s Largest Rivers

The Amazon River is teeming with life, from solitary four-hundred-pound catfish to shoals of eight-pound piranha. But in the Amazon basin around Santarem, Brazil—where white water, clear water, and black water rivers pool together—it’s the ancient tiny mollusks that have captured the attention of Mines researcher Dr. Laurie Anderson.

The three distinct water types collect here to create a uniquely rich breeding ground for extreme aquatic life in one of the world’s largest rivers.

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Photo of Dr. Anderson by Mark Siddall, American Museum of Natural History

Anderson’s research interest is in a little known genus of typically saltwater Corbulidae clam from the last member of a once diverse radiation in the western Amazon. She has devoted much of her career to studying this clam and other family members in the fossil record, and her current research continues to explore its evo...

Last Edited 1/3/2017 08:43:26 AM [Comments (0)]