The Whiteside Museum

Of Natural History


Seymour, Texas

Christopher J. Flis

Chris has been hunting fossils since he could walk. Saying that he has a passion for science is quite the understatement. Born in Midland, TX and raised all over from Ireland to Lousiana, he is a true dinosaur cowboy with a worldly charm. Chris has a degree in English and minor in History from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and began his museum career curating for what is now the Lafayette Science Museum. Soon thereafter, he was hired to build and curate new branches of the Houston Museum of Natural Science in The Woodlands and Sugarland, TX. During this time he made his first trips to Seymour, working with Dr. Bakker of the Houston Museum on excavations at the Craddock Ranch. Fortunately, the little town of Seymour got under his skin and his passion for the town and its people continues to grow alongside the success of Seymour's newest museum.

Museum Director

Meet the Staff

Collections Curator &     Lead Preparator

Leigh A. Cook

IMG_8418 - Version 3 IMG_3949 (1)

Curator of

Permian Coprology


Troy has spent most of his life in the Research and Development field with Compaq Computers and worked as product engineer for Hewlett Packard and retired years ago to follow his dreams of working with the best Paleontology minds on this planet. He has a passion for fossil hunting. Currently lives in Houston, Texas. He has been volunteering with the Whiteside Museum since before it opened and loves to work with fossils and prepping them. Currently the museum Curator of Permian Coprolites for two museums WMNH and HMNS where he volunteers with Dr. Robert T. Bakker and Christopher J. Flis on digs, researches specimens found, and preps the fossils for fun.

Troy H. Bell

Jacob Stripling

Jacob has been interested in finding fossils since he was two years-old.  A native of Seymour, Texas, he is currently a student in the Seymour ISD.  Jacob started volunteering at the museum in June of 2014.  Under the mentorship of Chris Flis, Jacob has begun his journey of becoming a paleontologist.  He is now very active in leading museum tours, participating in the digs, and prepping fossils.  He joins Chris or Coleton in the educational outreach to local schools.  Jacob also likes to spend time with his family, wood working and raising rabbits.


Junior Paleontologist

Adjunct Curator of Paleontology


Dr. Robert T. Bakker, Ph. D.


Assitant Curator /         Live Animal Curator

Holly Cheyenne Simon

Dr. Bakker is a world renown paleontologist who helped reshape modern theories about dinosaurs, particularly by adding support to the theory that some dinosaurs were endothermic (warm-blooded).  Along with his mentor John Ostrom, Bakker was responsible for initiating the ongoing "dinosaur renaissance" in paleontological studies, beginning with Bakker's article "Dinosaur Renaissance" in the April 1975 issue of Scientific American. His special field is the ecological context and behavior of dinosaurs.  Dr. Bakker has been a major proponent of the theory that dinosaurs were "warm-blooded," smart, fast and adaptable. He published his first paper on dinosaur endothermy in 1968. His seminal work, The Dinosaur Heresies, was published in 1986. He revealed the first evidence of parental care at nesting sites for Allosaurus.

Permian Research


Tracy Jon Houpt

Tracy started volunteering with Whiteside Museum since August 2015. He comes on weekends and spends most of his time digging for fossils, prepping fossils in the lab, and conducting research for our many Permian discoveries. He has a Master's Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.  Tracy currently serves as a Permian Research Assistant. He also  focuses on designing media and web based products to educate and entertain visitors and promote the museum.    


Holly is originally from Fort Worth, but has lived in Seymour for 5 years and almost started volunteering upon arrival.  She's always had a fascination for paleontology and reptiles. WMNH provides her with the opportunity to do both! As Curatorial Assistant, Holly is responsible for assisting in all musuem activities including the daily care and feeding of our live animals and provides live animal demonstrations to our visitors.  When she's not caring for the animals, she is a productive member of our dig team.  Holly loves that through volunteering, she is able to learn more about paleontology and is very satisfied with being able to help provide education experiences to our visitors and contribute to our research.  For her, it's the greatest thing in the world to talk to people who like the same thing you do and get to express your passion to others!


Leigh has been a Texas girl all her life. She grew up in Houston with the exception of four years, when she and her family were transferred to Venezuela. Living abroad she gained an understanding for other cultures and learned to speak Spanish as a second language. Her love of fossils, nature and the outdoors, led her to volunteer with the Houston Museum of Natural Science in 2009. There she participated in fieldwork and fossil preparation under the direction of Dr. Robert T. Bakker and David P. Temple. Since the Whiteside Museum's opening in June of 2014, she has actively participated in fieldwork, research, and fossil preparation. Leigh's passion for fossils and the need to see them properly preserved, documented, and displayed have led to her current role as the Whiteside Museum of Natural History's Collections Curator and Lead Preparator.

Jacob Stripling