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Environmental Science program receives large rock collection

Dr. Ronald Brister, former geology and paleontology curator of the Memphis Pink Palace Museum, recently donated his large rock collection to the Delta State University environmental science program.

During the Fall 2015 semester, Dr. Ronald Brister, former geology and paleontology curator of the Memphis Pink Palace Museum, donated the Ron Brister Petrology Collection to enhance Delta State University’s environmental science program.

The rock collection consists of 252 different igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks from around the world. Each specimen is housed and labeled in a Wards plastic specimen tray. Additionally, nearly all the specimens possess locality information.

“The specimens are housed in a rolling cabinet that Dr. Brister constructed of birch veneer plywood,” said Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding, professor of biology and environmental science at Delta State. “The value of the collection is over $3,000 based on the Wards Classic North American Rock Collection and the Wards Petrology Collection.”

Brister is familiar with Baghai-Riding’s research and with the environmental science program offered by Delta State. In the past, he helped Baghai-Riding coordinate a trip for Bolivar County 4-H participants to the Coon Creek Science Center in Adamsville, Tennessee. The students were able to excavate, prepare and acquire assorted Cretaceous marine fossils of clams, oysters, mosasaurs and more.

Brister said he was thrilled to donate the petrology collection for teaching purposes. In an email to Baghai-Riding, Brister stated that he had the greatest admiration and respect for the work that she has done for the university.

Brister has often displayed a table next to Delta State’s exhibit at the annual Memphis Mineral, Fossil, and Jewelry Show held during the last weekend in April. Baghai-Riding and her husband have promoted the university’s environmental science program at the event for the past decade.

Delta State is the only Mississippi institution that offers a Bachelors of Science degree in environmental science. For more information about the degree program, contact Baghai-Riding at or 662-846-4797.