Bjoern Penning

The University of Michigan, Black Hills State University in South Dakota and Benedictine University in Illinois have received a $1.125 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to recruit students of diverse backgrounds into the field of physics.

The grant, Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce, is awarded to the institutes with the aim of recruiting students from diverse backgrounds into the science and technology fields. The grant will focus on including rural students, Native American students and students from underserved urban backgrounds.

The universities developed this collaboration at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, or SURF, in Lead, South Dakota, and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. SURF was constructed in a former gold mine. Its sensitive equipment is located deep underground, where the detectors researchers build are protected from cosmic rays. One of the lab’s key focuses is the search for dark matter, a hypothetical form of matter.

Through the collaboration, a U-M graduate student based at SURF will lead a team of BHSU undergraduates and work with BHSU to develop research knowledge and infrastructure.

“These universities are playing a double role. They have a strong educational role in their communities, and their researchers teach a tremendous amount, but they don’t have graduate students or postdoctoral researchers to assist with research. Despite that, they make important impacts to the experiment,” said Bjoern Penning, U-M associate professor of physics and principal investigator of the grant.

“This grant enables us to work with these universities to develop a strong science track record. In the long term, we hope to attract undiscovered talent into science. They are doing fantastic work and I think we’re losing out on talent and potential by not trying to attract students like this.”

Please read the rest of the article on the Michigan News website.

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Bjoern Penning

RENEW Initiative