6 questions with 6 BHSU grads: Madison Jilek

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Full-time jobs, travels across the world, and advanced degrees. In this series “6 questions with 6 grads,” Black Hills State University will highlight the future plans of some of the University’s May 2018 graduates. Madison Jilek, physical science and chemistry major from Spearfish, will begin her Ph.D. studies at the University of Colorado Boulder this fall.


Students compete in 3rd annual BHSU Underground Robotics Competition at the Sanford Lab

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Middle school students from Spearfish and Belle Fourche and Black Hills State University students had the rare opportunity take part in an underground robotics competition at Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) this week. On March 21, these students left their classrooms to compete in the third annual BHSU Underground Robotics Competition at Sanford Lab in Lead.

BHSU earns nearly $800,000 grant to expand computer science curriculum in state high schools

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Black Hills State University was awarded a $785,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support South Dakota high schools in implementing computer science courses.

Dr. Ben Sayler, director of the Sanford Science Education Center and professor of physical science and mathematics at BHSU, serves as the project’s principal investigator. He says the new project “Expanding Pathways into Computer Science across South Dakota” will build upon previous work also funded by the NSF with an expanded focus: reaching rural regions and under-served students throughout the state including those on or near American Indian reservations. The project begins Oct. 1.


Physical science and chemistry major completes nuclear physics research experience in Louisiana

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In the summer of 2016, Black Hills State University student Rachel Williams built a cosmic ray detector in Italy. This summer, Rachel, a physical science and chemistry major, resided stateside where she dove deeper into nuclear physics through a partnership with Louisiana State University.

Rachel completed her research experience in Louisiana with financial support from the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. In addition to completing 10-weeks of intense scientific research, Rachel and her peers attended weekly workshops by research professors in the LSU Physics and Astronomy Department, professional development seminars, and ethics training.

BHSU staff member leads local student ballooning team to help NASA learn about life on Mars

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Last year, NASA reached out to a group of local students to help them conduct an experiment that could help us understand where life could survive beyond Earth. On August 21, a group of local students joined with more than 50 other teams to release a balloon to the furthest reaches of the atmosphere – almost to outer space – to livestream the solar eclipse and carry bacteria for a NASA experiment.

Dr. Peggy Norris, Black Hills State University Deputy Director of Education and Outreach at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, led a team of area undergraduate and high school students to Scottsbluff, Neb. for their balloon launch. This was Norris’ 15th viewing of a total solar eclipse.

BHSU students mentor local middle school students during BHSU Underground Robotics Competition at Sanford Lab

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BHSU student mentors take robots programed by middle school students through an obstacle course at Sanford Lab Underground Research Facility in Lead during the second Annual BHSU Underground Robotics Competition. From left to right: Taylor Watkins, environmental physical science major from Beresford, Amber Seidel, biochemistry major from Rapid City, John Dagit, Spearfish Middle School technology teacher, Mike Zorichak, BHSU Facilities Services, Drew Diedrich biology major from Spearfish, Ivan Lazar, BHSU alum, biology major, Sam Hintgen, science education major from Spearfish, Jacee Yoshida, biology major from Newell, Rob Dahlenburg, mathematics and science education major from Spearfish, Hannah Owens, biochemistry major from Spearfish, Madison Jilek, physics and chemistry major from Spearfish.

BHSU student builds cosmic ray detector during Dept. of Energy-INFN internship in Italy

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Research at the BHSU Underground Campus at Sanford lab created an opportunity for Rachel Williams, Black Hills State University physical science and chemistry major from Spearfish, to earn an international internship with the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the National Institute for Nuclear Physics. Her work at the National Institute for Nuclear Physics, Catania section, included building a detector that is now the highest efficiency cosmic ray detector housed at the Institute.

Williams says she chose to attend BHSU because of the University’s involvement in research with, and proximity to, Sanford Underground Research Facility. In high school, Williams worked alongside Spearfish High School physics instructor Steve Gabriel on his project at Sanford Lab involving measuring ventilation using flow meters.

BHSU receives National Science Foundation grant for undergraduate research at Sanford Lab

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Black Hills State University received a grant of more than $250,000 from the National Science Foundation to support students participating in undergraduate science research at Sanford Underground Research Facility.

The funds will be used over three years to provide 21 college-level students a 10-week hands-on research experience in physics, biology and chemistry.

Dr. Brianna Mount, assistant research professor at BHSU, said student researchers will have the opportunity to engage in research related to some of the most important physics experiments of our time – searching for dark matter and investigating properties of the neutrino.