SDSTA strategic plan

The SDSTA refines its mission, vision and core values to propel SURF forward

Planning for the future

Since 2008, the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) has been the driving force behind the development of the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF). As the deepest underground facility in the United States—and among the deepest in the world—SURF is uniquely suited to host a variety of experiments in physics, biology, geology and engineering. With no competing activities at SURF, our focus is on hosting and supporting world-leading science.

As our facility continues to expand to include more research and ever-larger laboratories, so, too, does our vision. In 2020, SURF took a hard look at our existing goals—and came up with a bolder strategic plan that aligns with the needs of the scientific community and our role as a global research facility. We refined our mission and vision, developed new goals that will propel us into the future and renewed our commitment to science and education.

The SDSTA owns and manages SURF and operates the facility under a multi-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. We partner with dozens of laboratories and hundreds of institutions around the globe to carry out world-leading research deep underground. There are several things that make SURF especially suited to underground science.

  • SURF is a dedicated multi-disciplinary research facility. Its stable rock and diverse underground areas make it ideally suited to large and small experiments at great depth.
  • SURF uses the concepts behind our research projects to develop K-12 education programming, teacher development and public outreach opportunities.  
  • As a dedicated research facility, SURF’s experienced and adaptable staff cater to science and engineering, ensuring they have needed resources and safe access to the facility.
  • SURF is an expansive facility with redundant access, with the depth and breadth to create additional underground space on current levels as well as deeper levels.

Mission: We advance world-class science and inspire learning across generations.

Vision: The world’s preferred location for underground science and education.

Core Values that support our Mission

  • Safety Focused: We do not compromise safety or endanger the environment. Period.
  • Care for Others: We embrace and honor the fundamental value and dignity of all individuals. We listen knowing everyone has something to offer and to learn.
  • Professional: What we do is important to our community and the world. We sweat the details to achieve big things. Our behavior and ethics exemplify our best.
  • Team Players: We provide unmatched service. We are respectful and deliver for our customers and partners. We build trust not barriers.

Becoming the world’s preferred location for underground science requires us to set bold goals. By 2035, SURF plans to have world-leading multi-disciplinary experiments operating at the facility, with proposed experiments actively competing for newly developed underground laboratory space. The target areas are:

  1. The Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) have been constructed and are fully operational.
  2. The Yates Shaft and Hoists have been fully reconstructed and modernized.
  3. Two additional large lab modules on the 4850L have been constructed and are fully operational.
  4. The Institute for Underground Science at SURF has been constructed and is fully operational with compelling, vibrant science and education programs.
  5. Foster commercial partnerships to advance technology development in the region, increase facility operations efficiency and safety, and expand workforce development opportunities.

SURF will continue to modernize several areas of the facility including the Yates hoists and shaft, the dewatering pumping system, and the underground refuge areas, which will allow the facility to accommodate growing underground activity.

SURF’s commitment to “inspiring learning across generations” can be seen in everything we do. Currently, SURF is working with universities in South Dakota to embed SURF’s K-12 education programming in teacher education programs; seeking ways to provide access to its unique curriculum units to a global audience; and planning a SURF Institute that will encourage collaboration in multidisciplinary research, education and public outreach.

Finally, SURF is dedicated to increasing cultural awareness and creating an inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible (IDEA) environment throughout the facility. As an international laboratory, SURF strives to be a welcoming environment for everyone. In early 2021, the SDSTA created the SURF IDEA Office, with plans to expand efforts and incorporate additional programming. Additionally, SURF is working on plans for Čhaŋgléška Wakȟáŋthe ethnobotanical garden at SURF that will honor the Native American cultures within the region.