As Associate Curator of Paleontology, Temple developed the Museum’s current Paleontology Field Program. His team excavates a Permian locality in North Texas, looking for fossils of Dimetrodon, the most fearsome pre-dinosaur predator, as well as every other sign of life, in order to more accurately reconstruct a 250-million year old ecosystem. The goals of the project include: collecting display-quality specimens of Permian-era species; creating original scientific interpretation of these species; and promoting the idea of “citizen science,” in which scientists collaborate with science-loving volunteers, students, teachers and Museum staff.
“My ultimate goal in any project is to inspire a love of science,” said Temple. “Paleontology is a topic that universally gets students excited. It is also multidisciplinary, meaning that virtually all of the sciences contribute to our understanding of the ancient past. So, students are not only excited about dinosaurs but also chemistry, physics, math, statistics, biology and other fields they may not have previously thought of as ‘neato,’ ‘groovy’ or even ‘cool.’”
Trying to find a way to accomplish this with insects – one of nature’s most unfairly reviled creations – for the original opening of the Cockrell Butterfly Center in 1994, Temple inadvertently became the Museum’s Bug Chef. Since then, he’s created innovative recipes ranging from Bourbon Flambé Waxworms to Worm-crusted apple treats as well as dishes from famous insect chefs.
Temple has studied a wide range of subjects, and has curated or co-curated exhibitions at the Houston Museum of Natural Science ranging from Gold! Natural Treasure, Cultural Obsession and Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World to exhibits featuring topics like amber, and lizards and snakes. He has created innovative interpretation techniques, such as using live actors to portrait passengers on the Titanic, or developing a short play about the discovery of the Tyrannosaurus rex.
In addition to his current position, Temple was formally trained as an Archaeologist at the University of Houston and he has worked with all of the previous paleontology curators at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on various projects. He has also served as Curator of the Education Collections, Director of Education, and Director of Volunteers. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Museum Studies, with an additional emphasis on paleontological collections and programming.