SURF World-class Experiments

Posted on: January 12, 2024   |   Categories: Announcements, News & Updates
Surf Dr. Magdalena Rose Osburn

Photo: provided by SURF. Northwestern University Associate Professor, Dr. Magdalena Rose Osburn is with the DEMMO research group looking at microbes underground.  

This work is fascinating and will yield much more news in the coming months / years.  

Article: posted on KELO, January 10 by: Tyler Louder Eye on KELO

Surf Kelo

From Mt. Rushmore to the Corn Palace, South Dakota is known for its attractions. But not a lot of people are aware that Lead, South Dakota is home to the nation’s underground laboratory. The Sanford Underground Research Facility also known as SURF performs world-class science experiments everyday in the Northern Hills. SURF is the only deep underground science lab located in the United States and one of the deepest in the world.

The people who work underground include physicists, biologists, geologists and engineers.

“In a lot of these, although we’ve known they exist for a while we really don’t know how they behave and what role they play and how the universe operates and its make-up. So these are really at the forefront and really world-leading experiments that we’re performing here,” SDSTA Executive Director Mike Headley said.

Ask just about anyone who works at the lab and they’ll tell you one of the exciting things about working here is having so many experts in a variety of fields in one place.

“And everything is absolutely fascinating. Because most of the science that is being done here is cutting-edge. So everybody is very knowledgeable about their topic and it’s just a fascinating place to get to experience this,” Experiment Support Scientist Gavin Cox said.

SURF is also providing high-quality professional development to educators from across the state.

“So we’re working with 400 science teachers on a yearly basis here in the state and providing them really the tools they need to give our kids here in the state the best science education they can get anywhere else in the country,” Headley said.

SURF also plays a vital role in inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals. Current School of Mines student Ellie Breidenbach interned at the lab last summer.

“I mean it’s an amazing experience that we have been at Mines because it gives us such an advantage to be able to be only 45-minutes away from SURF, the world’s most sensitive dark matter detector in the world. I loved what I did over the summer. I got to be underground everyday working next to the engineers and physicists doing maintenance on LZ and checking on stuff like that,” SDSMT Student Ellie Breidenbach said.

“One of the top priorities in the physics community right now is the discovery of dark matter and what’s amazing here at SURF, LZ is currently the most sensitive dark matter experiment in the world. So we are leading in this field,” Cox said.

Experiments at the underground lab are also helping out South Dakota’s economy along the way.

“There is a huge economic impact here in the state as well. So, we’re estimating in this decade alone our work here will have a two billion economic impact on South Dakota and contribute directly to 1,200 jobs here in the state,” Headley said.

The work happening here could also lead to groundbreaking discoveries that could have an impact around the world. SURF’s collaborators include over 2,000 scientists from over 200 institutions and universities worldwide.