NSF grant to benefit USD at underground research lab The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded a grant worth more than $200,000 to The University of South Dakota Department of Physics for development of the Sanford Laboratory at Homestake for the proposed Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) in Lead. The award will assist in the elimination of external backgrounds from DUSEL experiments, such as fast neutrons and cosmogenic radioactivity from muon-induced processes and natural radioactivity. For underground experiments in pursuit of double beta decay, oscillations of low-energy neutrinos and in searches for dark matter candidates external backgrounds must be eliminated in order to achieve accurate research data. This is paramount during the groundbreaking research process that has the potential for Nobel prize-winning experiments, according to researchers and physicists involved with the development of DUSEL. The three-year grant, which totals $227,783 over three years, will provide funds to measure external sources of background with liquid scintillator, sodium iodide and germanium detectors as well as radon detectors. The results from these measurements will enable the experiments to be placed at different levels, according to their designed sensitivity and shielding requirements. Funds from the grant will also provide the support needed to analyze existing data sets and to gather additional data. Top physicists from all over the world will utilize the laboratory to perform cutting edge experiments while working hand-in-hand with representatives from USD, including the Nuclear and Particle Physics Group led by Dongming Mei, Ph.D., and other USD physics faculty, students and post-docs.