Valley City State University Joins DUNE Collaboration

Abundant beyond imagination, the neutrino is a sub-atomic particle that is a by-product of numerous natural phenomena including the fusion of hydrogen into helium, a process that fires the sun that warms our planet, that grows our tomatoes.

Avoiding detection is commonplace for a neutrino, yet occasionally in a rare interaction, the neutrino is responsible for the production of a fast moving electron or the electron’s heavy cousin, a muon.

Electron and muon production from neutrinos incident upon a target is the principle operation mode for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment that will be located at 4850 feet below the surface at Lead, South Dakota, just up the hill from Deadwood.

A burst of neutrinos originate at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, aka Fermilab, near Chicago Illinois and are focused with Quarter resolution at the DUNE target, some 1300 kilometers away.

This amazing feat is made possible by a committed group of high energy particle physics researchers, some 1000 minds distributed at over 150 institutions from around the world (27 countries); this truly is Big Science!

And big science translates to big data, the feature of the DUNE experiment that most attract Valley City State University Professor David DeMuth, Jr. who maintains the potential roles for undergraduate researchers as numerous, a belief evidenced by his work previously at the NOvA Experiment with six Software Engineering undergraduates who designed, developed, tested, and deployed a sophisticated networked multipoint barcode-enabled inventory control system used for the installation of the NOvA detector at Ash River, MN.

In May of 2016, DeMuth traveled to Rapid City, SD to successfully solicit the DUNE Collaboration for membership, making VCSU the first North Dakota institutional member, he noting that the proximity to South Dakota is among the best reasons for the membership.

The DUNE designs are still in their infancies but herculean work has gone on to produce a series of documentations that has translated to recent congressional approval to build DUNE, the installation timeline being complete in 2024.

DeMuth’s speciality is in software analysis, database systems, and embedded systems, areas where there are ample opportunities for his and VCSU undergraduates contributions, a goal consistent with the evolution of the SOAR program at VCSU.


Professor of Physics, Director of Undergraduate Research, STEM Consultant, STEAM Practitioner