Tom received his BA in Biology at Humboldt State University in Arcata in 1986 and his MA in Biology: Ecology and Systematic Biology at San Francisco State University in 1992. In May of 1997 Tom completed his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at U.C. Berkeley. His dissertation, "The Below Ground View of Ectomycorrhizal Fungi in Three Conifer Communities," (view abstract) involved research in California and Ecuador. Unfortunately his field sites require him to visit such horrible places as Mount Tamalpias and Point Reyes in California and the Andes of Ecuador. The field work was rough, but somebody had to do it. After graduating from Berkeley, Tom worked as a postdoc at Oregon State University with Dr. Randy Molina and Dr. Jim Trappe. There he pursued his interest in how ectomycorrhizal fungi affect plant community dynamics. Specifically, he investigated the ectomycorrhizal interactions of two mixed plant communities: Douglas-fir/Hemlock and Douglas-fir/Madrone.
In August of 2001, Tom joined the faculty at the University of Syracuse as an assistant professor of Restoration Mycology.