The South Dakota Board of Regents will award seven mini-grants to faculty members across the state who have developed research projects to support science, engineering, and education efforts associated with the new Sanford Underground Laboratory at Homestake.

The grants, worth a total of $32,522, will help support research by faculty at South Dakota public universities as the laboratory gears up to begin experiments at the 4,850-foot level of the former Homestake Gold Mine at Lead.

“Central to the efforts under way at the Sanford lab are goals to increase public understanding of underground science and to prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Robert T. Tad Perry, the regents’ executive director. “These grants will help further engage our faculty in the early development of experiments and continuing research at the lab.”

The following mini-grants were awarded to BHSU faculty:

• $5,000 to Dr. Cynthia M. Anderson, Black Hills State University, and Dr. Sookie S. Bang, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
“Baseline Geomicrobiological Research at the Homestake DUSEL by a Multidisciplinary Research Team Reveals the Need to Conduct a Metagenomic Survey of Eukaryotic Diversity Found in the First Water and Biofilm Samples Taken from Below the Surface”

According to Anderson, the DUSEL/Sanford laboratory at Homestake Mine presents a tremendous opportunity to investigate the unknown domain while advancing a basic understanding of the geomicrobiological component of the Earth’s biosphere. Researchers will use water samples already collected at the mine site to conduct a metagenomic analysis of the Fungi and Protista components. Metagenomic analysis of the bacterial diversity from the samples was completed as a part of the previous research project. The Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy (ESEM) data indicated the presence of eukaryotic cells dispersed throughout the mineral matrix of the biofilm samples. The research will conduct a metagenomic analysis of the eukaryotic organisms seen via ESEM. The study will lead to the publication of the first baseline geomicrobiological data to come from the DUSEL and will be used to support the development of a full research proposal to be submitted to the National Science Foundation. The research team for this project includes Anderson and Bang as well as faculty members from the School of Mines and Technology, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

• $4,906 to Dr. John Glover, Black Hills State University
“Underground Lab Mini-Grant: Survey of American Indian Perceptions”

This project will explore the attitudes and beliefs of local tribal communities toward the development of the underground laboratory. According to Glover, a series of small focus groups will be conducted to seek the Native American population’s attitudes, beliefs, and concerns. Using thematic analysis of the interview data, a comprehensive survey instrument will be constructed to assess a larger audience of the local tribal communities on the impact and the attitude regarding the lab development. Co-primary investigators are Glover, Dr. Cheryl Anagnopoulos, BHSU psychology professor, and Urla Marcus, assistant director of the Center for American Indian Studies at BHSU.

Other grants awarded:

• $5,000 to Dr. Stanley M. Howard, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
“Recycling of Enriched 76Ge From the Detector Production Circuit”

• $2,616 to Dr. Christina Keller, University of South Dakota
“PAN (Physics of Atomic Nuclei) Underground”

• $5,000 to Dr. Stephen Krebsbach, Dakota State University, and Judy Vondruska, South Dakota State University
“Develop a Basic Interactive Website and a Virtual Laboratory Module That Would Allow Visitors at a Distance to Explore the SUSEL/DUSEL Facility”

• $5,000 to Dr. Dana J. Medlin, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
“Development of Ultra-Pure Copper for the Underground Germanium Detectors”

• $5,000 to Dr. Rajesh Sani, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
“Generating Preliminary Microbial Data on Homestake Gold Mine to Support NSF S4, S5, and Faculty Early Career Development Proposals”