Reseachers work on the MAJORANA experiemnt at SURF inside a clean box with gloves.

A pair of researchers working in an ultraclean environment on the Majorana Demonstrator, which investigated the imbalance of matter and antimatter in the universe, 4850 feet underground at SURF. 

Photo by Matthew Kapust

South Dakota Mines Hosts Fifth Conference on Science at the Sanford Underground Research Facility

Mines is hosting the fifth Conference on Science at SURF which will cover all aspects of research at the facility.

The Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) is home to a huge range of scientific disciplines, from world-leading physics research to biology, geology, engineering, and much more. South Dakota Mines is hosting the fifth Conference on Science at the Sanford Underground Research Facility which will cover all aspects of research at SURF. The conference will take place May 14-16, 2024, in the Classroom Building on campus at Mines.

Conference logo showing the SURF Headframs and the name of the conference with the dates

“SURF has been operating for 17 years as an international facility dedicated to advancing compelling multidisciplinary underground scientific research. This is a particularly exciting time for this conference – a number of results from SURF experiments are making headlines and planning for next-generation projects is gaining momentum following recent strategic planning in the nuclear and particle physics communities,” says Jaret Heise, Ph.D., science director at SURF. “The Conference on Science at SURF provides a wonderful opportunity to survey progress on current and future efforts, and we're thrilled to see the conference series continuing.”

The conference, generally held every two years, brings together researchers from around the world who are focusing on the array of science happening in the underground lab. This year about 100 researchers and students are expected to attend.

"The upcoming conference is truly unique as it covers the full scope of the research at SURF while fostering interdisciplinary collaboration between different fields of science,” says Jingbo Wang, South Dakota Mines, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics and the 2024 conference chair. 

This Conference on Science at SURF also serves to educate and inspire the next generation of researchers, and both graduate and undergraduate students will be in attendance. 

“The conference provides remarkable opportunities for our students, both to learn from world experts on underground science, and to experience sharing their own research with such experts,” says Richard Schnee, Ph.D., head of the Department of Physics at South Dakota Mines. “This year we are hosting the PIRE-GEMARDARC summer school, with students using conference presentations to complement their interactive learning sessions."

South Dakota Mines faculty and students are involved in every aspect of SURF, from the massive Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, and the study of extremophile bacteria found in the depths of the underground laboratory, to the multidisciplinary effort to tap geothermal potential deep underground as a new energy source, and the hunt for dark matter with the LZ dark matter experiment. Mines students and faculty are also part if the effort to grow the world’s purest copper for LEGEND-200 and other experiments, to the MJD Ta-180m which is searching for the decay of nature’s rarest isotope and probing the stellar interior with the CASPAR experiment and more.

“This year we are also placing emphasis on the SURF User Association, which was established a few years ago. We're dedicating a special session to facilitate open dialogue, allowing SURF users to articulate their current requirements and future needs. Our aim is to foster a thriving underground research community by actively incorporating their insights and feedback,” says Dr. Frank Strieder, South Dakota Mines, associate professor and chair of the SURF User Association Executive Committee.

“We're looking forward to timely and in-depth discussions among participants, focusing on the latest advancements in underground physics and other fields. These conversations are crucial as they will help chart new courses towards groundbreaking discoveries at SURF. This is an exciting time for underground science, and we are eager to see the innovative ideas that will emerge from this gathering,” Wang added.

Media interested in covering the conference can find interviews with organizers around noon on May 14 in the Classroom Building on the Mines campus.