College of Arts and Sciences

Berry to provide 21st annual Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture

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Delta State University will host the 21st annual Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture on April 5 at 7 p.m. in Jobe Hall Auditorium.

The 2018 lecturer is Dr. Stephen Berry, Gregory Professor of the Civil War Era at the University of Georgia. Berry’s talk is entitled, “Dead Reckoning: What Coroners’ Records Reveal about Life and Death in the Old South.”

The Cranford Lecture is sponsored by the Delta State Division of Social Sciences and History and is supported by a generous grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council. The DSU Quality Enhancement Plan is also providing support for the lecture, which honors the life of Dr. Sammy Orren Cranford, longtime history professor and archivist at Delta State. The event is free and open to the public.

Berry earned his doctorate in history from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and is a leading scholar of the American Civil War and the nineteenth-century South. He has two books, “House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds” (2007) and “All That Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South” (2003). He has edited numerous volumes, including “A House Divided: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858” (2015) and “Weirding the War: Stories from the Civil War’s Ragged Edges” (2011).

He is currently working on several projects, most notably, a digital history project entitled “CSI: Dixie,” which uses coroners’ records to gain a deeper understanding of life and death in the nineteenth-century American South. As noted on the project website, “Coroners’ inquests are some of the richest records we have of life and death in the nineteenth century South. As mortals, we all die, but we do not die equally. Race, place, gender, profession, behavior, and good and bad luck play large roles in determining how we go out of the world. Collecting extant coroners’ inquests for the state of South Carolina between 1800 and 1900, CSI Dixie provides rare glimpses into Victorian-era suicide, homicide, infanticide, abortion, child abuse, spousal abuse, master-slave murder, and slave on slave violence.” For more information on the project, visit

Dr. Sammy O. Cranford

Berry’s work for “CSI: Dixie” will serve as the foundation for his lecture.

“We are excited to have Stephen Berry deliver this year’s lecture,” said Dr. Chuck Westmoreland, associate professor of history at Delta State. “His work on the American Civil War and the nineteenth-century South is some of the most imaginative and creative you will find from historians today. He explores fascinating topics about daily life and death in the American South that push us to think about this region’s history, as well as the nation’s, in fresh, new ways. Students, faculty, staff and community members will learn a great deal about life and death in the Old South.”

Berry serves as the secretary-treasurer for the Southern Historical Association and has been a fellow for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. In 2010, he received the Parks-Heggoy Award for excellence in graduate student teaching in the University of Georgia’s Department of History.

Westmoreland said Berry’s commitment to excellence in teaching, scholarship and public engagement bears much similarity to the work of Cranford.

“Stephen Berry has done a terrific job of taking history outside the traditional confines of the classroom and academic publications and into the digital world,” he added. “He speaks around the country and engages different types of audiences with his work. Dr. Cranford excelled at teaching and bringing history to a wider audience as well. I think he would appreciate the depth and creativity that Dr. Berry brings to the study of the past.”

As Westmoreland noted, the Cranford Lecture is a tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Cranford.

“Through his passion as a history professor, and his commitment to developing the DSU Archives, Dr. Cranford made our campus and community a better place,” said Westmoreland. “He touched the lives of students, fellow colleagues, community members and scholars who came to DSU to conduct research in our archives. This year’s lecture presents a great opportunity to learn from Dr. Berry and honor Dr. Cranford, one of Delta State’s most distinguished faculty members.”

Previous lecturers include: 1998, John Marzalek; 1999, John Ray Skates; 2000, James Cobb; 2001, Martha Swain; 2002, Lawrence Nelson; 2003, Nan Woodruff; 2004, David Sansing; 2005, Charles Reagan Wilson; 2006, James Hollandsworth; 2007, Elbert Hilliard; 2008, Larry Griffin; 2009, William LaForge; 2010, Chris Myers Asch; 2011, Charles Eagles; 2012, George Rable; 2013, Jeannie Whayne; 2014, Tim Huebner; 2015, Alecia Long; 2016, Aram Goudsouzian; 2017, Calvin White, Jr.

Following the lecture, a reception will be held in the Jobe Hall lobby.

For more information on the Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture, contact Westmoreland at

Baghai-Riding contributes to Geological Society of America meeting

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Searching for diamonds in Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.


Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding, professor of biology and environmental science at Delta State, contributed to the Geological Society of America South-Central Section Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, March 11-14.

Baghai-Riding was one of several co-authors of the presentation “Confirming Quaternary Displacement Rates on the Meeman-Shelby Fault and Joiner Ridge Horst, Eastern Arkansas.” The study looked at fossil spores and pollen from seven intervals to determine ancient paleoenvironments and geologic age.

Several Delta State environmental science students, including Helen Simmons, Anna Scott and Wilsonya Mitchell, contributed to the research.

As part of the conference, Baghai-Riding also participated in a trip to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. Diamonds have been discovered in the area for more than a century, including 28 that are over 10 carats.

Contact Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding ( for more information about the environmental science program at Delta State University.

Annual Juried Student Exhibition returns to gallery

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Delta State University’s Department of Art invites the public to the opening of its Annual Juried Student Exhibition March 8 from 5-7 p.m. in the Fielding Wright Art Center gallery.

The annual show allows the department to highlight student work produced in the past year and affords students an opportunity to gain professional experience by preparing work for exhibition and submitting it to a jury process.

Students submitting work are also eligible to win monetary awards in a variety of categories. The awards are made possible through the generous support of art patrons from the Cleveland community. Awards will be presented at 6 p.m.

This year’s juror is Nathan Pietrykowski, an independent printmaker who has shown work nationally and internationally in over 60 exhibitions.

The exhibit will remain in the gallery from March 8 to April 19.

The gallery is open Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, contact the Department of Art at 662-846-4720.

Students bundle trees for annual Bolivar County tree giveaway

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In celebration of Arbor Day each year, the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Bolivar County gives away young sapling trees to local residents as a public resource.

Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding’s environmental science classes have been helping NRCS with this effort for the past 12 years.

On Feb. 8, Teressa Oakes with the NRCS in Cleveland, brought 600 sawtooth oak sapling trees to Delta State. Oakes explained the history of the event to students as they helped prepare the trees for distribution. Class members placed two saplings into small plastic bags, squeezed out the air to help keep the roots moist, and wrapped tape around the base of each bag.

Earlier in the week, bald cypress and crepe myrtle saplings were prepared by the Bolivar County Master Gardeners. All of the tree saplings were given out at the Bolivar County Agriculture Building on Feb. 9.

Oakes thanked the students and is already making plans for their help with the 2019 Arbor Day event.

Contact Baghai-Riding at to learn more about the environmental science program at Delta State University.

Mississippi Public Universities provide research, education to advance energy, forestry sectors

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Mississippi’s natural resources help build and power our communities by providing lumber and abundant energy at an affordable cost. In fact, in its 2016 Global Petroleum Survey, the Fraser Institute ranked Mississippi eighth among the most attractive jurisdictions for upstream petroleum investment.

Protecting these resources and utilizing them in the most efficient and effective manner requires research and education. Mississippi Public Universities are stepping up to the plate to provide both.

The College of Forest Resources at Mississippi State University provides the only 4-year degree programs in forestry, natural resource and environmental conservation, sustainable bioproducts, and wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture. The award-winning student body includes the MSU student chapter of the Society of American Foresters, a professional student organization that has been ranked in the top three nationally for the last 18 years. Other student organizations that continually receive top ratings include the MSU student chapter of The Wildlife Society, Ducks Unlimited Bulldog Chapter, the number one collegiate chapter in the state for the last four years, and one of the top ranked Bass Fishing Clubs in the nation.

Students in the College of Forest Resources conduct research and participate in professional experience. Each year, MSU students are selected to participate in the William A. Demmer Scholars Program, a program that provides internships and work with federal agencies and non-governmental organizations that focus on natural resources. The College of Forest Resources alumni serve throughout the nation as heads of corporations and leaders in state and federal government agencies. Tony Tooke, the new U.S. Forest Chief is an alumnus of the MSU College of Forest Resources.

Offering one of a few hands-on field experiences for students, the College of Forest Resources has over 23,619 of forestland in the MSU Bulldog Forest for teaching, research and demonstration. This land is located in 28 properties throughout the state of Mississippi.

The Forest and Wildlife Research Center is the research arm of the College of Forest Resources. The Forest and Wildlife Research Center (FWRC) expands through research the fundamental and applied knowledge upon which forestry, forest products and wildlife and fisheries disciplines are based.  The FWRC assists in conserving, developing and utilizing the forest, forest products, wildlife and fisheries resources of Mississippi and the world. The FWRC is the only natural resources research program in the state of Mississippi and serves as the research arm for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.  Mississippi’s forest and forest products industries are a $12.79 billion dollar industry. Timber is the second largest commodity in the state.  Providing relevant and timely research to address the needs of landowners, biologists and industry is a priority within the Forest and Wildlife Research Center. Research funding in the FWRC supports 47 scientists working on an average of 300 projects annually.

In forestry, scientists have expanded forest-based industry through the development of forest inventory software. FWRC scientists were the first in the nation to develop a comprehensive, spatially-explicit inventory of forest resources in the state. A forest products/bio-energy mill location and decision support system based on county-level forest inventory and geo-spatial information has been developed and used by numerous industries desiring to locate to Mississippi. Mississippi is rich in natural resources and companies choose to locate to the state based on the availability of these abundant resources.

Mississippi is ranked as one of the top five places in the U.S. for biomass by Forbes magazine. Scientists continue to expand the software to include socio-economic factors, growth and drain estimates, ownership patterns and a transportation network.  The Department of Forestry conducts research to sustainably manage and utilize forest resources.  This includes developing new practices to expand the growth of timber resources. The department actively works with the Mississippi Forestry Commission, U.S. Forest Service, forest industry, and other universities to reduce risk of insect, disease, and natural disasters. The department also studies the effect of timberlands on carbon sequestration, water quality, alternative plantings, and wildlife habitat.

In wildlife and fisheries, scientists are tackling the growing human-wildlife conflict and economic impact of wildlife damage. In the U.S., wild pigs are non-native, invasive pests that pose a significant threat to agriculture, forestry, ecosystems, watersheds, native plant and animal communities and human health. Economic impacts of wild hog damage in the U.S. have been estimated at $1.5 billion/year. Wild pigs are host to at least 7 economically important livestock diseases and vectors of 9 zoonotic diseases of human health concern. Research is ongoing to quantify rate of range expansion, economic impacts and effective control methods to educate landowners, natural resource professionals and policymakers on the negative impact of wild pigs and inform local, state and national policy.

As the research arm of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, FWRC scientists monitor the state’s wildlife and fisheries populations. As issues arise, scientists offer solutions to sustain populations or in some cases, scientists recommend changes in hunting to deter some invasive species. The goal of FWRC scientists is to manage wildlife and fishery resources for the betterment of the state, region and nation.  Scientists in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture have an international reputation for expertise on a variety of game species including white-tailed deer, turkey and bobwhite quail. Research is also conducted on game and nongame species; ecology; wildlife diseases; endangered species conservation; ecological restoration; invasive species management; habitat reclamation, restoration, and management; conservation education; human dimensions; geospatial technologies in wildlife and fisheries sciences; landscape ecology; and wildlife and fish recreation.

In sustainable bioproducts, scientists are finding new uses for wood resources including small-diameter wood from first thinnings of pine plantations. From environmental mats to composite lumber, scientists are finding new uses for wood which expand its service life and improve economic opportunities for Mississippi landowners.  FWRC scientists are leaders in the development of bio-fuel from wood products. The FWRC is working to develop a marketable transportation fuel from blends of upgraded bio-oil and petroleum fuels.  Scientists are working on a southern yellow pine strength and stiffness project to increase the use of southern yellow pine in building construction. Scientists are also working on the use of timber in large construction projects and southern climatic stresses on these products.

At the University of Mississippi Field Station, faculty members conduct a broad range of studies related to Mississippi’s forests and wetlands, from the potential healing properties of plants to turkey behavior, fish growth and reproduction, controlling invasive insect species and mitigating pesticide run-off from farm fields. The 740-acre facility includes wetlands, grasslands and closed-canopy forests. The forested stands are mixtures of shortleaf pine and oaks with loblolly pine, sweetgum, red maple, winged elms and black gum. An aviary for study of wild turkeys is located in a remote area. More than 200 experimental ponds provide opportunities for controlled experiments and large-scale projects.

Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi are two members of a consortium of four universities recently awarded a National Science Foundation EPSCoR Track II grant. Jackson State serves as the lead institution for the four-year project, with the University of Delaware and the University of Wyoming rounding out the four participating universities. The project seeks novel and cost-effective approaches to mitigate climate change, improve energy efficiency and reduce pollutants in water and air, which are among the most significant challenges facing the world.

Delta State University encourages stewardship through the student chapter of The Wildlife Society, an international organization serving wildlife professionals in all areas of wildlife conservation and resource management that was founded in 1937. With a goal of excellence in wildlife stewardship through science and education, Dr. Ali Reza, advisor for the Environmental Science Wildlife Management Concentration, and students in the Environmental Science/Wildlife major worked to establish a student chapter of the society on the campus in Cleveland. The DSU student chapter of the Wildlife Society was approved on April 26, 2013 by the Southeastern Section of The Wildlife Society.

Video on the College of Forest Resources at Mississippi State University:

More information on the University of Mississippi Field Station:

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.