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 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 3/7/2022 11:12:06 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)]

High Impact Hardrocker - Geraldean Lynn Fluke

Geraldean Lynn Fluke, who graduated from Mines with a degree in Physics in 1948 and finished her Ph.D. in Atmospheric, Environmental and Water Resources in 1997, is featured in this latest edition in the High Impact Hardrocker series.

Geraldean Lynn was born January 7, 1926, in Winner, South Dakota. She was the middle one of three sisters. When she was six years old, her parents escaping the grasshoppers and the dust bowl, moved the family to Deerfield in the western Black Hills. She attended a small country school there through the ninth grade. She joined her older sister in Rapid City where both attended the high school, following their family tradition of finishing high school. They lived in rented rooms and worked to earn their “keep.” Given the transportation issues and the late depression economy, they probably only visited home in Deerfield a few times other than Christmas during the school year. After her older sister had graduated high school, her younger sister joined her to continue the family attendance. Geraldean graduated in 1943.


She obtained an appointment as a teacher in one of the rural schools. This was the height of World War II with many shortages including teachers; rural school boards would hire promising high school graduates as teachers. Readers of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books will recall that Laura went from high school graduation to a teaching role without further schooling.


In 1944, Geraldean enrolled in South Dakota Mines and began her college education. She graduated in 1948 with a BS in Physics. She joined the General Electric works in Hanford, Washington, working on nuclear reactor design and...

Last Edited 12/15/2021 07:29:26 PM [Comments (0)]

Research Inquiries

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Research Affairs

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

(605) 394-2493