In 2007, Thomas Lera was appointed the Winton M. Blount Research Chair at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. He has written over 100 philatelic articles and papers which have been featured in leading journals, such as The London Philatelist, The Collectors Club Philatelist, The American Philatelist, The Confederate Philatelist, and the 2003, 2009 and 2011 Congress Books.
In 1995, he published his first book, Bats in Philately and, his Cave Post Offices was published in 2011. He has served as co-chair of the Winton M. Blount Symposium since 2007 and in 2010 and 2012 he edited The Winton M. Blount Symposia: Select Papers 2006-2009 and The Winton M. Blount Symposia: Select Papers 2010-2011. His book The G.H. Kaestlin Collection of Russian Imperial and Zemstvo Stamps is currently in publication with the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press.
He is a national philatelic judge, has been a member of the Committee of Accreditation on National Judges and Exhibitions for the American Philatelic Society, was a past president of NAPEX, and is a member of several philatelic societies including the Royal Philatelic Society of London.
When not working at the museum, he is active in the preservation and conservation of caves and bats. In 2006, he was appointed by Governor Mark Warner to the Virginia Cave Board, which he is still a member. He has been the Administrative Vice-President of the National Speleological Society (NSS) receiving their prestigious individual Conservation Award. He is a fellow of the NSS and The Explorers Club of New York and holds degrees from the University of Illinois and the University of Pennsylvania.