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 Rachel Williams
 Madison Jilek

Black Hills State University student Rachel Williams, physical science major from Spearfish, and Madison Jilek, recent Spearfish High School graduate who will enroll at BHSU in the fall, were two of the 10 students  awarded special scholarships to study underground science for five weeks this summer.

The Davis-Bahcall Scholarships for Underground Science, sponsored by 3M Company pays tuition, and room and board for the students to participate in a study program that takes them to the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside of Chicago, and other scientific facilities at laboratories and universities in South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Italy.

The five-week program allows scholarship recipients to study a variety of science-related fields, including physics, engineering and geology, and interact with distinguished professor from around the world. They will also receive college credits.

“We’re showing them that there are science and engineering opportunities worldwide,” said Peggy Norris, deputy director of education and outreach at Sanford Lab.

The goal of the program is to encourage students to go on to graduate schools, get involved in research or become teachers. “We want them to become the future science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) leaders of South Dakota.”

William became interested in physics during her senior year at Spearfish High School after having SHS teacher Stephen Gabriel. Last summer, Williams was part of the QuarkNet program and was able to work closely with Gabriel, Dr. Brianna Mount, BHSU assistant professor of research, and Dr. Kara Keeter, BHSU assistant professor of physics, on various projects including going down to the 4,850-foot level at Sanford Lab.

Jilek, at the urging of Gabriel, also participated in the QuarkNet Summer Research program, a study of partial and astrophysics. It was during the program that she discovered her interest in modern science. This past year, Jilek worked with Gabriel and Mount at BHSU’s laser spectroscopy lab.

The program is named in honor of Dr. Ray Davis Jr. and Dr. John Bahcall, whose Nobel Prize- winning experiments into the discovery of neutrinos were conducted at the Homestake Mine.

The annual Davis-Bahcall Scholarships are open to high school seniors and college freshmen.  The curriculum begins with a visit to the site of the Sanford Lab and the Deep Underground Science & Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL). The studies will continue with a road trip to the Soudan Underground Laboratory and NOvA facility in Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab in Illinois, and Frascati and Gran Sasso laboratories in Italy. Students will have the option to intern with South Dakota businesses and universities in their hometowns following the program.

Funding for the scholarship program is underwritten with a generous grant from 3M Company with additional funding through the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium.

In addition to Williams and Jilek, Stephen Farghali, BHSU mass communication and psychology major from Belle Fourche, will be a full-time intern with the Sanford Lab communications department. Farghali will work closely with staff members on Neutrino Day planning, writing projects, photography, videography and strategic planning.