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Geology Senior Adam Brister Receives $3,000 NM Geological Society Scholarship

Adam Brister

Geology Senior Adam Brister Receives $3,000 NM Geological Society Scholarship

New Mexico Highlands University environmental geology senior Adam Brister received a $3,000 scholarship from the New Mexico Geological Society.
The 29-year-old from Cut ‘n’ Shoot, Texas, worked in several business positions, such as customer service representative for a Houston copy machine company, before enrolling at Highlands in 2006 to major in business. That changed when he enrolled in a geology class for science credit.
“I took a geology class from Dr. Lindline and said to myself, ‘wow, this is a really interesting subject,’” Brister said. “She’s a great teacher and so enthusiastic about her work. I kept taking more geology classes, choosing it as my major and minoring in business.”
Brister is a lab technician in the university’s high-tech paleomagnetic lab. He collects, prepares and tests the magnetic properties of rock samples. Michael Petronis, another geology professor, and Lindline established the lab and its sophisticated instrumentation in 2008 through a National Science Foundation grant. 
“I think the most helpful thing about working in the Highlands paleomagnetic lab is it gives me experience for conducting my own studies,” said Brister, who plans to pursue his master’s degree in environmental geology after he graduates from Highlands in May 2011.
Brister said he also gained valuable experience this past summer when he worked at the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife intern. Brister used geographic information system mapping software to map invasive juniper trees, did inspections and counts of amphibians like snakes and lizards in McAllister Lake, and performed water quality testing in the local watershed.
“We recommended Adam for this merit-based NMGS senior scholarship because he’s strong academically and is very thorough and deliberate in the way he prepares his geology projects and papers,” Lindline said. “One of Adam’s strengths is his ability to bring in content and concepts from other disciplines like chemistry to solve geology questions. He enjoys academic challenges and has never shied away from hard work.
“Adam is poised to make valuable contributions to society through the discipline of geology,” Lindline said.
In 2008, Brister founded the Highlands University Geological Club for students and was its first president.  Lindline and Petronis have served as advisers for the club.
“We wanted to raise money for geology field trips and also do community service,” Brister said.
The geology club has explored geological sites close to home like the Taos Box Canyon of the Rio Grande and has ventured farther afield to places like Iron Mountain in southwestern Utah.
Some community service projects include trash cleanup that earned the geology club an award from the city’s Keep Las Vegas Beautiful Program, and work with the Good Samaritan Cold Weather Shelter serving food and preparing sleeping areas.
Before leaving for the semester break, the geology students will cut firewood for an elderly Las Vegas woman to help keep her warm this winter.
“Adam is a catalyst for so many good things coming out of the geology club,” Lindline said. “He’s an inclusive people person who keeps geology students engaged, whether he’s recruiting new members or coordinating a community service project.”
Looking ahead, Brister said: “Many geologists are retiring and replacements are needed in geology disciplines.  My environmental geology studies at Highlands have prepared me to pursue graduate school and after that, my options are unlimited.

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