Jason M. Tor

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Jason M. Tor

Mourning the passing of my boots at Darwin Falls in Panamint Valley (CA), March 2008. The eulogy went like this: "They helped me climb Vulcano and the coast of Italy, and plenty of small hikes and day trips. Even multiple trips to Death Valley and here we are, they died on the trail to Darwin Springs. Life and death. Life and death. Hand in hand. Ying and Yang. Bert and Ernie. If you would all bow your heads. (Moment of Silence). Thank You."
Contact Information


Office: CSC 207
Office Hours: By Appointment Only
Academic Information
Position: Associate Professor of Microbiology

School: School of Natural Science
Graduate Alma mater: University of Massachusetts – Amherst

I am an Associate Professor of Microbiology in the School of Natural Science at Hampshire College. My research and teaching focuses on geomicrobiology and life in space.  



Ph.D. – Microbiology – University of Massachusetts – Amherst
Thesis: Anaerobic Metabolism of organic compounds by hyperthermophilic microorganisms.
Advisor: Derek R. Lovley

M.S. – Soil Microbiology – University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Thesis: Trifluralin degradation under microbiologically induced nitrate and Fe(III) reducing conditions.
Advisor: Gerald K. Sims

B.S. – Soil Science – University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Thesis: Effects of acetolactate synthase inhibitors on nitrifying bacteria.
Advisor: Gerald K. Sims


Spring, 2010
NS-0290 Food Microbiology
NS-0396 Zymurgy

Previous Courses

NS-0216 Compost Science and Sustainable Soil Fertility
NS-0232 Microbial Ecology
NS-118T Soil: Science and Society
NS-0146 How Microbes Rule the World
NS-0257 The Microbial Farm
NS-0379 Research in Environmental Microbiology
NS-0152 Infections of Leisure
NS-0228 Living on the Edge: Microbial Life in Extreme Environments
NS-0256 Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry
NS-0262 Biochemistry
NS-0142 The Unknown Microbial Majority
NS-0252 Geomicrobiology
NS-0119 Culturing the Unculturable
NS-0256 Soil Science
NS-0170 Kitchen Ecology
NS-0264 Environmental Microbiology
NS-0290 Food Microbiology
NS-0396 Zymurgy


My research is currently focused on the geomicrobiology of life in extreme environments. Current projects in my laboratory are directed at describing the microbial contributions to rock varnish formation, hypolithic communities, and sulfate reduction in alkaline hypersaline environments.


Tor, JM. 2008. Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation. Sabbatical Support for Geomicrobiology Research in Death Valley National Park. Awarded: $5,600.00

Jarvis, C.J. and Tor, J.M. 2006. National Science Foundation Division of Undergraduate Education. CCLI: Discovering Science through Fermentation: Equipment for an Investigative Approach. Proposal #0633121. Awarded: $25,805.00

Tor, JM and Jarvis, CJ. 2004. National Science Foundation, Division of Biological Infrastructure. MRI: Acquisition of a Fluorescence-activated Cell Sorter and an Ultracentrifuge for Collaborative Research and Teaching at Hampshire College. Proposal #0618476. Awarded: $44,480.00

Professional Affiliations

American Society for Microbiology
American Association for the Advancement of Science
International Society for Microbial Ecology
American Cheese Society

Contact Information

Jason M. Tor, Ph.D.
School of Natural Science
Hampshire College
893 West St.
Amherst, MA 01002
Office: 413-559-5323
FAX: 413-559-5448

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