USD Hosts Dark Matter Day Oct. 30

Photo of Dongming Mei with Ge researchers studying crystal growth. Dongming Mei works with USD research faculty and graduate students on the crystal growth lab.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota Department of Physics hosts Dark Matter Day, a symposium on USD’s research into dark matter, Oct 30.

The event, hosted at 6:30 p.m. in Patterson Hall 117 will include lectures by USD professors Joel Sander and Dongming Mei, with a dark matter lab open house, and dark matter candy following the talks.

“USD is at the forefront of one of the most pressing questions in science today: what is the nature of the dark matter,” said Sander. “The vast majority of the matter in the Universe is dark matter, but the dark matter has eluded detection for 80 years. Multiple research teams at USD focus on dark matter detection.”

USD researchers are currently conducting research on germanium and dark matter detectors, as well as collaborating with scientists all over the world on experiments at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF). Mei leads the Center for Ultra-Low Background Experiments at Dakota (CUBED) which coordinates USD’s research efforts at SURF. He also leads a global collaboration - PIRE-GEMADARC, which is funded by NSF for $4.35M, in developing novel germanium detectors for searching for dark matter and neutrinoless double-beta decay.

Sander is part of the SuperCDMS dark matter search experiment which currently has the world's best sensitivity to the dark matter candidate, low-mass Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs).

Additionally, two USD researchers, Jing Liu and Guojian Wang, recently received National Science Foundation EPSCoR Grants for their work into dark matter and dark matter detection.

“Since dark matter is not in the form of stars and planets...we will show what form dark matter may be in and how to detect it with the most sensitive detectors in the world,” said Mei.

“We welcome you to come hear about our efforts to discover dark matter and will take your questions,” said Sander.


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Michael Ewald
USD News