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BHSU Opens Underground Campus In Sanford Lab

Amy Varland

The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead recently added a new facility that allows college students to aid in research. Black Hills State University faculty say the underground campus  encourages science students to become involved with experiments.

Black Hills State University hosted a grand opening for its Sanford Science Education Center and Underground Campus in the Sanford Lab this week. The new campus allows students in a variety of fields to go underground and work with scientists and professors from the university.
Dr. Brianna Mount is a research faculty member at BHSU and the lab director for the underground campus. She says science students who have the opportunity to participate in research are more likely to graduate and be successful in graduate school.
“The biologists go to the far reaches of the mine and take samples and bring it back to analyze with a microscope. At the underground campus. Physics majors participate in research in our counting room. So our counting room is filled with counters that are looking for really, really small amounts of radioactivity in different materials that will eventually be used in the bigger experiments like LUX and Majorana and I think it’s a really great experience for them. Not only is it just science majors but it’s also science education majors. So they’re really the ones that are going to be taking science, you know, to their classrooms eventually,” says Mount.
Mount says that because BHSU is fairly small institution and the closest one to the Sanford Lab, it’s easy for students to approach their professors for an opportunity to go underground.   
Arthur Turner is a physics student who worked in the underground campus this year where he helped test equipment to be used in large experiments.
“To have the ability to have students go underground and to do this kind of research is, it’s just unbelievable. The depth of this counting room, the people that are involved right now, it’s amazing. You’ve got some of the greatest professors I’ve ever met here, that are helping cultivate research opportunities for undergraduates and they’re taking us underground and they’re teaching us what they do everyday. It really helps you learn if you really want to be a research scientist,” says Turner.
BHSU also expanded its campus to include space they say encourages science students to collaborate on projects. The Underground Campus at Sanford Lab is already in use by students and faculty.