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Press Release

On Monday, Oct. 24, the public is invited to a free presentation by Sanford Lab?s Mike Headley, executive director of the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority, and Jaret Heise, science director. In ?Deep Talks on the Road,? the two will discuss the science at Sanford Lab and its impacts on education and the economy of the state during a presentation at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology?s Surbeck Center. ?Big Science at Sanford Lab? will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a reception; the presentation begins at 6 p.m.

From the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, Dr. Ray Davis Jr. operated his solar neutrino experiment on the 4850 Level of Homestake Mine, earning a Nobel Prize in Physics. Today, the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) houses big physics experiments, as well as other experiments in biology, geology and engineering, nearly a mile underground in the former gold mine.

?We?re on the verge of constructing one of the largest international mega-science projects to ever be developed on U.S. soil to study the mysteries of neutrinos,? said Headley in reference to the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility and associated Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (LBNF/DUNE). Work on facilities that will house the next-generation dark matter detector also are underway. LUX-ZEPLIN will be the largest and most sensitive dark matter detector in the world.

?These experiments and several others have been used to enhance STEM education for K-12 schools throughout South Dakota,? Headley said. Since last year, Sanford Lab?s Education and Outreach department has created eight curriculum modules that have reached more than 9,000 students. The department holds teacher workshops and hosts dozens of field trips.

The experiments also contribute to the state?s economy. ?Big Science at Sanford Lab? will look at the economic impacts current experiments have had on the state, and feature a report that was done on the economic impact the LBNF/DUNE project, including projected spending and jobs creation. ?This project has a tremendous potential to boost the economy of South Dakota,? Headley said.

Professors at SD Mines are involved in several experiments at Sanford Lab, including CASPAR (Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophysical Research), which is led by Dr. Frank Streider, LBNF/DUNE, LUX-ZEPLIN and other multidisciplinary projects.

"The next several years will be very exciting ones as the Sanford Lab builds one of the world's greatest science experiments,? said Heather Wilson, president of SD Mines.  ?It's a wonderful opportunity to have this experiment so close to us and to learn more about it from people directly involved."

Headley has more than 23 years of engineering and management experience. Before coming to Sanford Lab in 2008, Headley served in various roles at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science Center (EROS), and was the Deputy Program Manager and Assistant Vice President for the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), USGS EROS Center, in Sioux Falls, S.D. Headley earned his bachelor?s degree from South Dakota State University and an MBA from Loyola Marymount University. He served in the U.S. Air Force for six years. 

Heise also joined the Sanford Lab team in 2008 after working for several years with the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), an underground research facility in Canada. The SNO experiment, which helped solve Davis? solar neutrino problem, won a share of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics. Heise, who also held a postdoctoral position at Los Alamos National Lab, earned his Ph.D. in particle astrophysics from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Deep Talks is a lecture series created by Sanford Lab and the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center. The series is held every second Thursday of the Month (except December) in Lead, S.D. Deep Talks on the Road will be given in several locations throughout the state.

Sanford Lab is operated by the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) with funding from the Department of Energy. Our mission is to advance compelling underground, multidisciplinary research in a safe work environment and to inspire and educate through science, technology, and engineering. Visit us at