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Plankinton student earns Davis-Bahcall Scholarship

LEAD — Ten South Dakota students including Allison VanHorn, of Plankinton High School, were awarded special scholarships to study underground science for five weeks this summer beginning in June.

The Davis-Bahcall Scholarships for Underground Science, sponsored by 3M Company, will pay tuition and room and board for the students to participate in a study program that takes them to the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside of Chicago, and other scientific facilities at laboratories and universities in South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Italy.

The 10 students selected this year come from all over the state. This year's scholars also include: Rachel Williams, Spearfish, Black Hills State University; Hannah Wisser, Oakland, Ore., SDSM&T; Pranamaya Dey, Sioux Falls, Lincoln High School; Layne Droppers, Yankton, Yankton High School; Mattison Flakus, Aberdeen, Aberdeen Central High School; Madison Jilek, Spearfish, Spearfish High School; Jack Storm, Rapid City, Stevens High School; Kassia Symstad, Hot Springs, Hot Springs High School; and Noah Watkins, Sioux Falls, Roosevelt High School.

The annual Davis-Bahcall Scholarships are open to high school seniors and college freshmen. The curriculum begins with a visit to the site of the Sanford Lab and the Deep Underground Science & Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL). The studies will continue with a road trip to the Soudan Underground Laboratory and NOvA facility in Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab in Illinois, and Frascati and Gran Sasso laboratories in Italy. Students will have the option to intern with South Dakota businesses and universities in their hometowns following the program.

"We're showing them that there are science and engineering opportunities worldwide," said Deputy Director of Education & Outreach Peggy Norris. The goal is to encourage students to go on to graduate school, get involved in research or become teachers. "We want them to become the future science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) leaders of South Dakota."

The program is named in honor of Dr. Ray Davis Jr. and Dr. John Bahcall, whose Nobel Prize- winning experiments into the discovery of neutrinos were conducted at the Homestake Mine.

Funding for the scholarship program is underwritten with a grant from 3M Company, with additional funding through the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium. "We are grateful to 3M for sponsoring this program for the past six years," Mike Headley, Executive Director of Sanford Lab, said. "Their generosity is giving students opportunities they would not otherwise have."