SDSU forms partnership with Argonne National Laboratory

Denise Watt

Denise Watt

A new partnership with a national lab promises to provide new research opportunities for SDSU faculty and students, officials said at an agreement signing on campus last week.

On Thursday, Feb. 22, officials from SDSU and Argonne National Laboratory signed a memorandum of understanding, forming a partnership between the two organizations.

“I view today as a monumental day for SDSU,” Kevin Kephart, vice president for research, said at Thursday’s ceremony.

He called the event a “turning point for science and technology at South Dakota State University.”

Located outside of Chicago, Argonne ranks as one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest research centers, according to its Web site. Its research areas include energy, environmental management and national security.

The lab works to provide research opportunities for students as well as faculty.

SDSU’s work with the lab will focus on researching biofuel, nanotechnology and solar energy, Kephart said.

SDSU President David Chicoine served on the lab’s board of governors during his time in Illinois. He helped connect Kephart with Norman Peterson, assistant to the director of Argonne.

“The goal is to develop opportunities for SDSU faculty and students working in partnership with Argonne to pursue fields of science and technology that are of mutual interest and that, importantly, advance science and technology-driven economic development in South Dakota,” Chicoine said in an earlier press release.

Peterson said the partnership aims to focus on areas in which both SDSU and the lab would benefit.

“What we wanted to create was a win-win partnership,” he said.

“Partnerships like this are frequent and they are many, but very few of them work as effectively as I think this one is going to work. And it will work effectively because of the leadership involved, the leadership of both institutions.”

Peterson said the next step in the partnership will involve forming research teams from South Dakota to go to Argonne.

While in South Dakota, lab representatives visited Rapid City to discuss the Homestake Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, Kephart said.

SDSU will participate in research at the Homestake DUSEL lab as well, he said.

The three-day South Dakota visit had been organized last October, Peterson said.

Brookings Mayor Scott Munsterman and Chicoine both spoke at the ceremony. Chicoine invited those in attendance to return in five years for an “accountability session” to chart the partnership’s progress.