Bradley Tolar


I am gay and I am an aquatic microbial ecologist.//


I grew up in the southern US in a small town on the ocean. I always loved being outdoors and on the water, but it took a while for me to find a path to STEM. I was inspired by my high school biology teachers and my grandmother to become a teacher, and learned that meant I needed to get a PhD. Fortunately, I fell in love with research along the way and after many years of training started a faculty job in 2022. My favorite parts of my job are ship-board sampling, mentoring students in the lab, and teaching undergraduates to be excited about the unseen microbial world surrounding them. Outside of work, I love to cook, bake, hike, and travel – especially exploring new cities, restaurants, and markets along the way. I’m also into reading, gaming, and almost any SciFi or Fantasy movie/series.

Combining my career and my queer identity took me quite a while, as I grew up in a very conservative area. I came out in high school to close friends and was out to classmates in college and graduate school, but it was not until my postdoc and introduction to Out in STEM (oSTEM) that I could bring my full authentic self to work. Now I make it a priority to be out to colleagues, students, and other researchers, to make sure they do not have to feel like they are the only LGBTQIA+ individual in the room.