Sanford Lab inspires unique learning experiences for BHSU students

Author: BHSU Communications/Friday, March 6, 2015/Categories: 2015








           BHSU students demonstrated the importance of research and collaboration with Sanford Underground Research Facility at the 2015 Student Poster Session in the Capitol Rotunda March 5.  Madison Jilek of Spearfish (left) and Kristin Rath of Canton (right) shared their research findings on a dark matter experiment with Jack Warner, executive director and CEO of the South Dakota Board of Regents.   






           BHSU student Kristin Rath of Canton enjoyed reconnecting with her former high school teacher, Rep. Jim Bolin of Canton, during the 2015 Student Poster Session in the Capitol Rotunda March 5.  Rath met with state representatives to share her research findings on a dark matter experiment at BHSU.



During yesterday&rsquos Student Poster Day at the State Capitol, South Dakota legislators learned about the many opportunities that Black Hills State University students have at Sanford Underground Research Facility.  

Dr. Brianna Mount, assistant professor of physics research at BHSU, said the school&rsquos proximity as the closest university to Sanford Lab offers many possibilities for students.

"At BHSU we have many different opportunities for students to get involved with research.  We provide student researchers the chance to go underground and get involved with projects at Sanford Lab," said Mount.

Mount says BHSU and Sanford are working on several new projects including the BHSU Underground Campus at Sanford Lab.

"We&rsquore going to be the only institution with a campus underground.  Our presence at Sanford Lab will facilitate even more student projects," said Mount.  "I think one of the most important experiences as a student in college is the opportunity to engage with research.  It&rsquos really easy to get involved with research at BHSU."

Currently, BHSU students in mass communications, education, genomics, music, and physics participate in activities with Sanford Lab.

Adam Gomez, mass communications and graphic design communications major from Spearfish, interns with Sanford Lab producing videos for the lab&rsquos new Visitor&rsquos Center.  Gomez says the lab&rsquos location near BHSU is invaluable for students in photography, videography and design.  

"What we can learn from the lab is a once in a lifetime experience.  We&rsquore working a mile underground on the cutting edge of science," said Gomez.

Kristin Rath, physical science and composite science teaching major from Canton, works on research at BHSU looking for trace impurities in different gases.  The research contributes to a large, dark matter experiment.  Rath will begin student teaching in the fall and plans to share her experiences with her future students as real-life applications of science.

"I want to be a high school science teacher teaching physics and chemistry.  Our research will help me with those goals," said Rath.

Anna Hafele, integrative genomics graduate student from Newell, worked at Sanford Lab as an education intern.  She helped with workshops and educational activities for middle school students connecting the activities with the lab&rsquos experiments.

"Going underground, I got to see what I was teaching about.  It really brought home how much work is going into understanding the mysteries of the universe," said Hafele.

Jesse Dunaway, music education major from Rapid City, composed a musical piece inspired by the history of the Homestake Mine&rsquos transformation into a major research center.  To prepare for the composition, Dunaway went to see the abandoned mine shafts and meet with lead lab scientists for Sanford&rsquos Large Underground Xenon (LUX) project.

"Watching the scientists work underground and the delicate safety precautions they&rsquore taking in their experimentation was very interesting.  It felt like an exclusive experience," said Dunaway.

Madison Jilek, physical science and chemistry major from Spearfish, worked at Sanford Undergraduate Research Facility as a South Dakota Department of Education Davis Bachall Scholar last summer.  Even as a freshman, Jilek says her internship experiences at Sanford and BHSU helped focus her plans for pursing a graduate degree in physics.

For more information on BHSU&rsquos collaborations with Sanford Lab, contact Corinne Hansen, director of university and communication relations, at or 605-642-6215.

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