Candidate for Member at Large Bradley Tolar

Bradley Tolar

Ph.D. 2014 (Microbiology, University of Georgia, USA), B.S. 2008 (Microbiology, Louisiana State University, USA)

Biographical Information

I am an aquatic microbial ecologist by training and have just completed my second year as an Assistant Professor at UNC Wilmington. Having grown up on the Gulf of Mexico, the ocean has always been a central part of my life. My research focuses on archaea and their role in biogeochemical cycling in oceans, estuaries, and rivers. Broadly I am curious about how microbes impact the world around them, and how environmental change will affect their diversity, physiology, and ecosystem servicesOutside of research, I am passionate about teaching and mentorship and see both as critical focus areas for myself and the field. My goal is to cultivate a community that is accepting, inclusive, and makes all members feel supported. During my postdoc, I realized that I had made it through my entire training without having a faculty mentor who was queer like me, and have made it my priority to continue to be a visible presence for LGBTQIA+ students and trainees so they never have to feel that they cannot succeed in our field or in an academic career track. Beyond work, I enjoy traveling with friends (especially after conferences), cooking, and hiking.

Candidate Statement

I have attended ASLO conferences almost annually since my first Aquatic Sciences Meeting in 2013 in New Orleans. ASLO remains my preferred scientific organization, whose meetings have nurtured my training and development, provided space for me to network with other scientists in my field and beyond, and where I have felt the most supported and encouraged personally, professionally, and scientifically. Over the years, I have recognized that this organization is incredibly important to me, and I feel it is time to step up and contribute more directly to its success and the support of its membership.

Although I have not yet held an official position within ASLO, I have participated as a meeting mentor since the 2015 Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Granada (through both the ASLO and ASLO-MP programs) and helped unofficially organize and/or advertise LGBTQIA+ events and socials at ASLO meetings. Having the first “official” ASLO LGBTQIA+ meetup this past summer in Palma was an incredible experience to see recognition among my community in a formalized way, and I want to continue supporting these opportunities for affinity groups to meet, network, and socialize.

Through my time as an ASLO member, I have been able to see the success of efforts from ASLO to increase opportunities for all folks within early career stages, furthered by the establishment and continued work of the Early Career Committee (ECC). Additionally, our continued efforts to expand our society globally have been integral to furthering connections with colleagues abroad. Especially compared to other US-based organizations with international members, ASLO has made great strides to move our conference globally, to accessible locations for international colleagues, allowing us to help them feel as if they truly belong in ASLO (and in many cases, may become their preferred society for the future). I have seen this firsthand through friends abroad I convinced to attend the Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Palma (2023), and I am dedicated to finding more ways to foster international partnerships especially for early career scientists in the field.

While the “Amplifying Voices” series adds visibility for underrepresented scholars and ASLO-MP supports them on their road from traineeships to academic/professional positions, I think that we could further enhance conference mixers and provide non-conference networking and engagement opportunities to connect folks across the world who have similar lived experiences. I would be glad to champion such efforts as a Member at Large, and intentionally reach out to communities within ASLO membership to ensure the society and its programs are supporting them in the best ways possible. I truly am appreciative of how representative the ASLO Board and organizers have been since I joined and am excited for the road ahead as we find ways to better include both international and underrepresented colleagues, as well as determine the best way as a society to navigate in-person versus virtual conferences and events. Regardless of the election results, I will remain involved in ASLO and look forward to continuing to experience the incredible science and community ASLO has built.

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