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South Dakota Science and Technology Authority celebrates 20 years

Stephen Kenny
Sanford Underground Research Facility
Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota

The South Dakota Science and Technology Authority is marking its 20th anniversary this year.

The authority, which owns and operates the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, was established in 2004 by state lawmakers and then-Governor Mike Rounds.

SURF has emerged as "America’s Underground Science Laboratory,” contributing a projected $2 billion to South Dakota’s economy this decade. The facility says that their impact extends globally, keeping the United States competitive in the race for underground research breakthroughs.

Sen. Mike Rounds expressed pride in the transformation of the Homestake Gold Mine into a world-class research facility.

“The work at SURF has brought international recognition to our state,” Rounds said.

Dr. Kevin Lesko, a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was among those advocating for the establishment of the SDSTA. He credits Rounds and other state leaders for building what has become the deepest underground laboratory in the United States.

Rounds acknowledged the collective effort of local and state political leaders, South Dakota’s congressional delegation, and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford in creating SURF.

Mike Headley, SDSTA executive director and laboratory director at SURF said he is excited about the future.

“SURF will continue to have a major impact on the state and local economy while advancing world-class scientific research,” Headley said.