Mike Headley

Executive Director; Laboratory Director
South Dakota Science and Technology Authority; Sanford Underground Research Facility

Mike Headley serves as the Executive Director of the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) and the Laboratory Director of the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, SD. At SURF, Mike leads a 154-member team in the development and operation of the deepest underground science laboratory in the United States. During his 11-year tenure at SURF, Mike has been a key leader in the transition of the former Homestake Gold Mine into a world-leading research facility now hosting science in multiple disciplines, including dark matter searches and neutrino studies. 

Mike has more than 26 years experience leading the design, development, and operations of multiple, major technical systems and facilities to support senior U.S. Government decision makers and international science communities. His engineering and management experience includes the development and operation of complex space satellite and ground systems; the development and operation of large-scale science data processing and distribution systems; and the design, construction, and operation of deep underground science laboratory facilities. 

Before coming to SURF, Mike served in various roles at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science Center (EROS), and was an Assistant Vice President for the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), USGS EROS Center, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Mike also honorably served six years in the United States Air Force, earning the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. He has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from South Dakota State University and an MBA from Loyola Marymount University. Mike is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).