Finder of Texas Mystery Spider reflects on Horner's influence

Finder of Texas Mystery Spider reflects on Horner's influence

Greg Broussard, Dr. Norman Horner's graduate biology student, knew he had something different on his hands when he spent days trying to correctly identify the "Texas Mystery Spider" back in 1999.

After Broussard found the spider, he tried to get it down to the species. He checked it out with the dichotomous key but couldn't get it down to the genus. "Dr. Horner told me I had it in the wrong family, but after four days, he couldn't fit it in either," Broussard said. "At the time, he already had 30 years of studying spiders and he couldn't place it. It's neat to think that I stumped Dr. Horner."

In a location as remote as the DDRS (Dalquest Desert Research Station near Big Bend Ranch State Park), Broussard said that it wouldn't have been surprising to find a new species, but to find a new family was unexpected.

Broussard earned his bachelor's degree in biology in 1998 and his master's in 2002. After working in the entomology lab at Oklahoma State University then teaching at Connors State College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, he now teaches biology at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque. He is a Holliday High School graduate with family still in the area. His brother Scott teaches in Henrietta and his nephew Braden is a 2019 graduate of MSU Texas.

Horner says that watching students start as freshman and obtain their bachelor's and master's degrees, with some going on for their Ph.D., then having productive careers of their own, has been as rewarding as the honors he has earned. And Broussard is one of those students.

Broussard says that Horner had the biggest influence on what he does as a teacher. "I couldn't have had a better mentor," Broussard said. "He shaped my career."