About Me

Bradley B. Tolar

Environmental Microbiologist / Microbial Oceanographer / Archaea-ologist


My Career Path

I grew up on the Gulf of Mexico in south Mississippi, so the ocean has always been a part of my life. Although it took time for me to realize my career path, I found that my passions for discovery, outreach, community service, and teaching all pointed toward a faculty position in science.

I became a scientist because I had incredible teachers in high school who pushed me to pursue my curiosity and from that I found a love for research and “unseen” microbial life in college. I began studying desert soil bacteria, became interested in taxonomy and phylogeny, and pursued graduate school to study marine microorganisms. My project involved characterizing a new group of marine archaea – the Thaumarchaeota – and I’ve been fascinated with them ever since. I am most interested in understanding how microorganisms adapt to a changing environment, and discovering more about under-characterized groups of microbes.

Apart from research, I am passionate about education (both to students and the public) and mentorship, and I strive to make my field a more inclusive and supportive environment for all people. I truly believe anyone can do science, and encourage even the second graders I work with to call themselves “scientists”, “do research” by exploring the world around them, and “record their observations” through notes and drawings. Outside of work, I love to explore the world through hikes, good food, and road trips.


  • B.Sc., Microbiology (2008) – Louisiana State University
  • Ph.D., Microbiology (2014) – University of Georgia

Research Experience

  • Assistant Professor, Dept Biology & Marine Biology, UNCW (2022-Present)
  • Research Scientist, Dept Earth System Science, Stanford (2021)
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Dept Earth System Science, Stanford (2015-2020)
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Dept Marine Science, UGA (2008-2014)
  • Undergraduate Research Assistant, Dept Biological Sciences, LSU (2004-2008)

Teaching Experience

  • Biological Oceanography (BIO 564/BIOL 564), UNCW (2022)
  • Citizen Science Faculty, Bard College (2019) link
  • Lead Course Assistant, Hopkins Microbiology Course (2015, 2018) link
  • InTeGrate Teaching Program, Santa Clara University (2017) link
  • Course Assistant, Hopkins Microbiology Course (2012)
  • Teaching Assistant, Applied Microbiology Laboratory, UGA (2010)
  • Teaching Assistant, Electronic Exploration of Prokaryotes Lab, UGA (2009)
  • Undergraduate Teaching Assistant, Microbiology Laboratory, UGA (2007)

tolarb -at- uncw -dot- edu

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