Research at Mines happens every day of the year, involves faculty and students at every academic level, and frequently includes collaboration across the state, the nation and the globe.

South Dakota Mines Students and Faculty Assist in Successful Startup of LUX-ZEPLIN Dark Matter Detector at Sanford Underground Research Facility

Mines physics graduate student Jack Genovesi runs cables above data acquisition racks during upgrades on the LZ experiment at the 4850 level of SURF.

Deep below the Black Hills of South Dakota in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF), an innovative and uniquely sensitive dark matter detector—the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment, led by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab)— has passed a check-out phase of startup operations and delivered first results. South Dakota Mines physicists played an integral role in LZ by creating technology that reduced the amount of background radiation that could skew the experiment’s results. They are continuing to make important contributions by calibrating and analyzing the experiment.

The take home message from this successful startup: “We’re ready and everything’s looking good,” said Berkeley Lab Senior Physicist and past LZ Spokesperson Kevin Lesko. “It’s a complex detector with many parts to it and they are all functioning well within expectations,” he said.

In a paper posted online, LZ researchers report that with the initial run, LZ is already the world’s most sensitive dark matter detector. LZ Spokesperson Hugh Lippincott of the University of California Santa Barbara said, “We plan to collect about 20 times more data in the coming years, so we’re only getting ...

Last Edited 8/4/2022 07:52:00 PM [Comments (0)]

Mines Students Design Software to Predict the Cattle Market with 29-Year-Old Computer Program Envisioned by Rancher

A group of Mines computer science majors, Jordan Baumeister, Dustin Reff and Trevor Borman have joined with a university alumni to build a new software program that helps predict the cattle futures market.

For many years, Wall Street investors have used sophisticated software like artificial neural networks to gain a trading advantage. These software tools use a range of data inputs and historical trends to predict stock prices.

But the cattle market is a different beast. “The software tools used to predict the stock market fail miserably if you apply them to cattle futures,” says Jordan Baumeister. She worked the past year with fellow computer science majors Trevor Borman and Dustin Reff to build models that could better predict the cattle and corn markets in an effort to offer commodity traders an edge. The team used artificial intelligence and data science to create mathematical models to predict future market trends and provide a comparison for anomalies, like droughts or floods, using historical data analytics. 

“Our overall goal was to optimize the risk versus reward tradeoff that shows up when you exchange these contracts on the futures market,” says Reff. 

To achieve this goal, the students had to rely on decades of previous work.

A long history of success

In 1993, Todd Gagne was a student at Mines developing his own software programs when he crossed paths with Ron Ragsdale, who ranched on 55,000 acres of rolling prairie near the confluence of the Belle Fourche and Cheyenne Rivers.

Ragsdale came to ranching following a successful career in law along with a ...

Last Edited 6/14/2022 07:32:38 PM [Comments (0)]

Mines Joins Research Collaboration to Develop Spray-On Bioplastics for Use in Farming

Tanvi Govil, a doctoral student at Mines, helped discover a microbe that eats corn stalks and produces environmentally friendly bioplastic without costly pre-treatments. This patent-pending breakthrough technology, developed at Mines’ CNAM-Bio Center, is a key component in the BioWRAP project.

South Dakota Mines researchers are part of a new $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop bioplastics for use in agriculture over the next four years.

The project, called Bioplastics with Regenerative Agricultural Properties, or BioWRAP, includes a research team at Mines working alongside a principal investigator at Kansas State University and researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Traditional specialty crop production, like organic agriculture, often use petroleum-based plastic sheets to cover the ground. Conventional plastics leave microplastic residues which contaminate the environment and increase stormwater runoff. This project aims to reduce the use of plastics, herbicides, fertilizers and associated environmental impacts in agricultural production by creating an all-in-one bioplastic system that can better manage weeds, add nutrients to soils, improve soil and plant health, and save water.

“This is exciting research to see unfold on campus as it can have a major benefit for farmers in South Dakota and across the nation. Kudos to Mines researchers for seeking solutions that are both cost saving for our ag producers and health...

Last Edited 6/2/2022 06:19:26 PM [Comments (0)]

Mines Wins NSF Grant to Study Impact of Ocean Floor Plate Tectonics on Climate Change

Dr. Gokce Ustunisik in her laboratory at South Dakota Mines.

The island splitting eruption of the Tonga Volcano in January caught the world’s attention with its explosive plume of ash and subsequent tsunami. Large volcanic eruptions like this can have impacts on the climate and carbon budget of earth’s atmosphere and oceans.

But some may not realize that many, if not most, volcanic eruptions on earth don’t happen on volcanic islands, rather they occur deep under water along oceanic rift zones. These rift zones are volcanic fissures that occur along tectonic boundaries where rising plumes of magma come to the surface and slowly push oceanic plates apart. The constant underwater eruptions along rift zones can also impact the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and ocean.

Dr Gokce Ustunisik in labFor scientists to understand and model the impacts of human caused climate change, they need to know all the sources and sinks for CO2 - including the amount of CO2 naturally produced by these oceanic rift zones. Better quantifying this amount can yield improved understanding of the impacts of anthropogenic climate change.

South Dakota Mines Assistant Professor and principal investigator Gokce Ustunisik Ph.D., ...

Last Edited 2/3/2022 03:22:57 PM [Comments (0)]

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