Research@Mines

Research@Mines

Research at Mines happens every day of the year, involves faculty and students at every academic level, and frequently includes collaboration across the state, the nation and the globe.

Mines Students Design Software to Predict the Cattle Market with 29-Year-Old Computer Program Envisioned by Rancher

A group of Mines computer science majors, Jordan Baumeister, Dustin Reff and Trevor Borman have joined with a university alumni to build a new software program that helps predict the cattle futures market.

For many years, Wall Street investors have used sophisticated software like artificial neural networks to gain a trading advantage. These software tools use a range of data inputs and historical trends to predict stock prices.

But the cattle market is a different beast. “The software tools used to predict the stock market fail miserably if you apply them to cattle futures,” says Jordan Baumeister. She worked the past year with fellow computer science majors Trevor Borman and Dustin Reff to build models that could better predict the cattle and corn markets in an effort to offer commodity traders an edge. The team used artificial intelligence and data science to create mathematical models to predict future market trends and provide a comparison for anomalies, like droughts or floods, using historical data analytics. 

“Our overall goal was to optimize the risk versus reward tradeoff that shows up when you exchange these contracts on the futures market,” says Reff. 

To achieve this goal, the students had to rely on decades of previous work.

A long history of success

In 1993, Todd Gagne was a student at Mines developing his own software programs when he crossed paths with Ron Ragsdale, who ranched on 55,000 acres of rolling prairie near the confluence of the Belle Fourche and Cheyenne Rivers.

Ragsdale came to ranching following a successful career in law along with a ...

Last Edited 6/14/2022 07:32:38 PM [Comments (0)]

Mines Joins Research Collaboration to Develop Spray-On Bioplastics for Use in Farming

Tanvi Govil, a doctoral student at Mines, helped discover a microbe that eats corn stalks and produces environmentally friendly bioplastic without costly pre-treatments. This patent-pending breakthrough technology, developed at Mines’ CNAM-Bio Center, is a key component in the BioWRAP project.

South Dakota Mines researchers are part of a new $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop bioplastics for use in agriculture over the next four years.

The project, called Bioplastics with Regenerative Agricultural Properties, or BioWRAP, includes a research team at Mines working alongside a principal investigator at Kansas State University and researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Traditional specialty crop production, like organic agriculture, often use petroleum-based plastic sheets to cover the ground. Conventional plastics leave microplastic residues which contaminate the environment and increase stormwater runoff. This project aims to reduce the use of plastics, herbicides, fertilizers and associated environmental impacts in agricultural production by creating an all-in-one bioplastic system that can better manage weeds, add nutrients to soils, improve soil and plant health, and save water.

“This is exciting research to see unfold on campus as it can have a major benefit for farmers in South Dakota and across the nation. Kudos to Mines researchers for seeking solutions that are both cost saving for our ag producers and health...

Last Edited 6/2/2022 06:19:26 PM [Comments (0)]

Mines Wins NSF Grant to Study Impact of Ocean Floor Plate Tectonics on Climate Change

Dr. Gokce Ustunisik in her laboratory at South Dakota Mines.

The island splitting eruption of the Tonga Volcano in January caught the world’s attention with its explosive plume of ash and subsequent tsunami. Large volcanic eruptions like this can have impacts on the climate and carbon budget of earth’s atmosphere and oceans.

But some may not realize that many, if not most, volcanic eruptions on earth don’t happen on volcanic islands, rather they occur deep under water along oceanic rift zones. These rift zones are volcanic fissures that occur along tectonic boundaries where rising plumes of magma come to the surface and slowly push oceanic plates apart. The constant underwater eruptions along rift zones can also impact the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and ocean.

Dr Gokce Ustunisik in labFor scientists to understand and model the impacts of human caused climate change, they need to know all the sources and sinks for CO2 - including the amount of CO2 naturally produced by these oceanic rift zones. Better quantifying this amount can yield improved understanding of the impacts of anthropogenic climate change.

South Dakota Mines Assistant Professor and principal investigator Gokce Ustunisik Ph.D., ...

Last Edited 2/3/2022 03:22:57 PM [Comments (0)]

Mines Scientists Study Methods to Control Ice Formation in Soils

Dr. Tejo Bheemasetti, a civil and environmental engineering department faculty member, works in a South Dakota Mines laboratory on an Environmental Triaxial Testing System, used to deep freeze and heat samples to examine the stresses created by the freeze thaw cycle on treated soils.

Water expands when it freezes. This simple yet fundamental fact of nature can lead to cracks in building foundations, crumbling roads and huge rocks that fall onto canyon roadways from the cliffs above.

Past research into this problem has shown that when the ground freezes tiny pockets of ice trapped in the soil expands. This can create what is known as frost-heave in the winter and in the spring, when ground thaws it creates thaw-weakening settlement. Over time this freeze-thaw cycle causes damage to the ground and poses major challenges for human made structures, like bridges, dams, pipelines, buildings, roads and homes. Each year, the freeze-thaw cycle leads to billions of dollars in mitigation and repair costs around the world.

Now, a team of scientists and engineers at South Dakota Mines has received $453,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation to seek solutions to these problems.

“We are trying to understand more about the fundamentals of ice formation underground and if there are natural methods that we can use to stop or control the ground from freezing,” says Tejo V. Bheemasetti, Ph.D., assistant professor in the civil and environmental engineering department at South Dakota Mines.

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Last Edited 2/16/2022 06:56:13 PM [Comments (0)]

Research Inquiries

For inquiries related to South Dakota Mines Research, contact:

Research Affairs

South Dakota Mines
501 E. St. Joseph Street
Suite 102, O'Harra Building
Rapid City, SD  57701

(605) 394-2493