New BHSU President Tom Jackson, Jr., (far right) toured the BHSU Underground Campus at Sanford Lab last week. Among the people he visited with about the project were: (left to right) Dr. Rod Custer, BHSU provost; Dr. Brianna Mount, BHSU researcher and assistant professor; Dr. Ben Sayler, BHSU Director of Education and Outreach at Sanford Lab ; and Dr. Rachel Headley, STEM Liaison at BHSU.
Sanford Lab Director Mike
Headley and BHSU President
Tom Jackson, Jr.
Not even a week into the job and the new Black Hills State University president, Dr. Tom Jackson Jr., encountered a whole different world when he visited the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) to visit with faculty and researchers about their work nearly a mile underground in the former Homestake Mine near Lead.
The Sanford Lab is dedicated to research that may change the way we think about the world especially the origins of matter and the properties of neutrinos. Jackson, along with scientists and others from BHSU, toured the space housing dark matter and neutrino experiments, visited with BHSU researchers, and toured the BHSU Underground Campus.
According to Jackson, the highlight of the tour was a visit to the BHSU Underground Campus, space for BHSU students and faculty to conduct research. While there Jackson was briefed on the plans for the cleanroom and open-air laboratory space and the required preparations and infrastructure. BHSU and Sanford Lab have had the BHSU Underground Campus plans in process for more than eight months.
Jackson’s underground tour provided him with insight about the unique research opportunities that BHSU students will have at the BHSU Underground Campus.
“The entire Sanford Underground Research Facility is a very impressive operation,” Jackson said. “Even more impressive is the unique research experiences our students have access to at the BHSU Underground Campus. Since the BHSU campus is located so close to this world renowned lab, it creates exceptional opportunities for our students to participate in research and expand their learning experience whether they are studying science, communications, music, or a variety of other disciplines.”
BHSU faculty and students are involved in a variety of research at the Sanford Lab including physics collaborations, biological investigations, photography and video techniques, and even music composition. The Sanford Lab has created opportunities for BHSU faculty and students to be involved in numerous collaborations with other universities in the state and across the nation.
BHSU is the lead Regental institution for the Sanford Science and Education Center (SSEC) whose focus is educational outreach, both in the classroom and in more informal settings. SSEC leverages several locations for education opportunities, including the Jonas Science building on the BHSU campus, the new Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center being built in Lead, and the Yates Education Building at the Sanford Lab. The SSEC's staff also leads workshops and activities at locations across the state and region.
The former Homestake Mine was the largest, deepest and most productive gold mine in the Western Hemisphere before closing in 2002. The mine now provides a laboratory space deep underground, where sensitive physics experiments can be shielded from cosmic radiation. Researchers at the Sanford Lab explore some of the most challenging questions facing 21st century physics, such as the origin of matter, the nature of dark matter and the properties of neutrinos.
BHSU’s location less than 20 miles from the deepest underground lab in the U.S. has created a number of unique experiences for students and faculty.
- BHSU science faculty are trained to go into the lab and take samples for other scientists across the U.S.
- BHSU has been designated the lead Regental institution for the Sanford Science Education Center.
- BHSU serves as a Quarknet site, an educational program funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy to enhance physics education in high schools.
- BHSU students and faculty prepared the lead bricks used in the MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR and the Center for Ultra-low Background Experiments at Dakota (CUBED) physics research.
- Students and faculty are involved in physics, biology, geology, and other research projects associated with Sanford Lab.
- Students complete internships and projects at Sanford Lab in communications, photography and other areas.
- BHSU is involved with science-related collaborations that include over 34 universities and high schools.