Thomas was born and raised in West Virginia and is a graduate of both Marshall University and West Virginia University. With a doctorate he is a professor of biological sciences at Marshall University in Huntington WV. His teaching specialties are ornithology, herpetology, and conservation biology.
He has conducted numerous research focused herpetological studies since the 1960's, and has subsequently developed an impressive list of published papers, abstracts, government and private sector documents, books, brochures, manuals, field guides, and contributions to books.
In October 2018, Pauley was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Forest Service in recognition of his career and contributions to the field of herpetology and the biology of the Cheat Mountain Salamander.
In 2019 newly described species of salamander found in West Virginia and parts of Kentucky and Tennessee was named the Yellow-spotted Woodland Salamander, Plethodon pauleyi, for Thomas Pauley, “protector of salamanders.”
To learn more about Thomas and his work at Marshall University, go to marshall.edu/herp