International Scientists Gather at South Dakota Mines for Flagship Neutrino Project

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The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology will host international scientists collaborating on the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) May 19-May 22.

This is an exciting time for the collaboration as it moves closer to building the far detector at Sanford and advancing our understanding of the universe.

Nearly 200 international scientists who are collaborating on the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) will gather this week at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology to map out the future of the mega-science project.

The DUNE Collaboration meeting will begin Thursday, May 19, and conclude Sunday, May 22, with 175 scientists from all over the world on the Mines campus and another 100 participating via remote access.

DUNE will be the world’s flagship neutrino project, with hundreds of scientists from 27 countries, including South Dakota Mines physicists. The project planned between the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago will involve the world’s highest intensity neutrino beam 800 miles long. A 160-kiloton cryogenic liquid argon detector system will be built one mile underground at the Sanford Lab to image the rare collisions of neutrinos beamed from Fermilab, with the ultimate goal to understand the origins of the universe.

It will be the first time the group is meeting at South Dakota Mines, located less than an hour where the detector will be built in the laboratory that was once the Homestake Gold Mine. The depth of the laboratory will shield the experiment from cosmic rays that bombard the earth’s surface.

“We are pleased to welcome scientists from all over at the world to South Dakota Mines,” said Heather Wilson, university president. “This is an exciting time for the collaboration as it moves closer to building the far detector at Sanford and advancing our understanding of the universe.”

Throughout the meeting DUNE leaders will focus on pressing matters, highlighting potentially critical topics and offering steps to mitigate them. An outlook for the project will be also be discussed.

Juergen Reichenbacher, Ph.D., Mines physicist who has been organizing the collaboration meeting along with Fermilab, hopes South Dakota School of Mines can establish itself as the preferred far detector conference site for DUNE, alternating as host with Fermilab, the near detector and accelerator site.

“It is a great honor for the School of Mines to host this large DUNE collaboration meeting. A lot of critical decisions will have to be made now or in the upcoming months as we will build large prototypes,” Reichenbacher said.

Reichenbacher is convener of the Purity & Radiopurity Working Group for DUNE, with fellow Mines physicist Luke Corwin, Ph.D., deputy convener. They have been working on DUNE for several years, including at previous institutions before moving to the School of Mines in 2013 and 2014.

Reichenbacher’s campus laboratory is completely housed inside a new very large clean room to reduce backgrounds for sensitive measurements. He designed and constructed unique equipment for the lab, where he is making dedicated radiopurity and calibration measurements for DUNE and also the next generation dark matter experiment called LZ (LUX-ZEPLIN).

More the 800 scientists and engineers from 150 institutions and laboratories from 27 countries are already working on DUNE.

Watch this animated video to learn more about DUNE:


Fran LeFort
Communications Manager
(605) 394-6082

About SD Mines
Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,843 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate is 98 percent, with an average early-career salary for graduates of $62,300, according to the 2015-2016 PayScale report. Find us online at and on Facebook and Twitter.

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