Longtime SFA entomologist - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Longtime SFA bug professor honored

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Dr. William Gibson (Source: KTRE Staff) Dr. William Gibson (Source: KTRE Staff)
A butterfly on display at the William Gibson Entomaroium (Source: KTRE Staff) A butterfly on display at the William Gibson Entomaroium (Source: KTRE Staff)
A few of the beetles on display at the William W. Gibson Entomarium (Source: KTRE Staff) A few of the beetles on display at the William W. Gibson Entomarium (Source: KTRE Staff)
A sign for the William W. Gibson Entomarium (Source: KTRE Staff) A sign for the William W. Gibson Entomarium (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

You never know where a hobby might take you. For Dr. William Gibson, a childhood bug collection led to the largest collection of bugs in Texas. It was the primary teaching tool of the now retired Stephen F. Austin State University professor. 

Gibson's friends and colleagues honored him Monday. It happened at a place very familiar, yet very different to the well-liked bug professor. 

Gibson felt quite at home in a place he designed more than 40 years ago. It's called an …

"Entomarium," Gibson said. "Entom as in insect. Arium as in place of."

The facility is now officially named the William W. Gibson Entomarium. It houses most of the Gibson has collected, in addition to those contributed by former students.

"On the order of a quarter of a million at the minimum," said Dr. John Moore, SFA's interim biology chair. 

And Gibson would keep them all within arm's reach. His organization was a system only he knew.

"Piles of this and piles of that," Gibson said.

Now one of the largest collections of invertebrates in Texas has taken on a different look.

"Well, everything is so neat and orderly," Gibson said.

It's all thanks to the work of present-day SFA entomologist Dr.Dan Bennett.

 "Every day, I would find new things that were of note," Bennett said. "There are some really rare tiger beetles. Turns out we have one of best tiger beetle collections in the entire state. That was a big surprise." 

Gibson is a nationally recognized specialist in beetles. Some are very large. Others appear almost magical.

"The beetles look shiny and colorful under the regular light," said lecturer Olga Minich. "However, if you put polarizing lens they're going to look very different."

Not everybody likes to see a bug up close and personal, but Gibson said it's a good idea to view the world from the bug's perspective. It might make the planet a better place.

Gibson said understanding bugs and their purpose helps humans become "friends of the Earth." 

"And that's wonderful," Gibson said. "We should, everybody should protect the earth."

On Monday, SFA president Dr. Baker Patillo announced the SFA Regents will be voting tomorrow to name Gibson a professor emeritus. There's certainty the motion will pass.

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