The Missouri River Institute develops and promotes research, education and public awareness related to the natural and cultural resources of the Missouri River basin. The institute's work is crucial, as the Missouri River system faces increasing demand on its resources.
The Neuroscience Group promotes research of motor control, learning and memory, cellular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, functional recovery from stroke, neural control of respiration, computational neuroscience and neuroendocrine control of behavior.
The Herbarium plays a central role in the study of plant diversity. It allows comparison of plants from many parts of the world, from related groups, from different habitats and from a given area over time. It provides material for fundamental descriptions of plant form, microscopic study of surface features or pollen grains, chemical analyses of leaves or flowers, and genetic (DNA) studies. The specimens are also of general reference value to workers wishing to identify unknown plants or learn more about the distribution and variation of particular species.
Researchers conducting genetic and ecological studies deposit voucher specimens in the herbarium, thus providing permanent documentation of the species involved in that work. An herbarium is an integral part of teaching and research programs in the plant sciences, ecology and related fields of agriculture. Many colleges and most universities maintain an herbarium collection, as do many botanical gardens and natural history museums. Researchers from different herbaria interact through specimen exchange and loans, as well as through visits among the institutions.
USD's Herbarium (acronym: SDU) holdings include between 20,000-30,000 specimens, specializing in collections from South Dakota; upper midwestern U.S.; eastern Great Plains. Important collections: F. L. Bennett, W. H. Over, J. F. Brenckle, S. S. Visher, A. C. McIntosh.
The Disease Testing and Sequencing Facility serves as a center for samples run across the country to determine the presence of pathogens in wildlife. The facility specializes in the amphibian diseases of chytridiomycosis and ranavirus and also the prairie dog sylvatic plague. Other samples can be examined by request.
The University of South Dakota Herpetological Museum contains the largest collection of South Dakota amphibian and reptile specimens in the world. These research specimens are used by researchers across the country and for classroom instruction.