AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers

2011 Election Candidate

Paul Williams

Paul WilliamsDepartment of Physics, Austin Community College, Austin, TX

Education
BA in Physics, Rice University, Houston, Texas (1985)
Ph.D. in Physics with specialization in Condensed Matter Theory, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas (1992)

Professional Experience
Adjunct Math instructor, Austin Community College 1987-1991
Lecturer, The University of Texas at Austin, 1992-1993
Physics Professor, Austin Community College, 1993-2001, 2004-2011
Professor of Physics, Aims Community College, Greeley Colorado, 2002-2004
Department Chair, Physical Sciences, Austin Community College, 1996-1997, 1998-1999, 2007-2010

Memberships
American Association of Physics Teachers
Texas Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers

Honors
National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Teaching Excellence Award, 2006
Teaching Excellence Award presented by Alpha Gamma Pi Chapter of Thi Theta Kappa Honor Society, 2005

AAPT Activities
Chair of the Committee on Science Education for the Public
Presenter of workshops, contributed talks, posters, and invited talks at AAPT Summer and Winter Meetings
Organized and presided at multiple sessions

Texas Section of AAPT
President-elect, Texas Section of AAPT
Frequent presenter of workshops and contributed session at Texas section meetings
Co-organizer Spring 2009 Texas section meeting

Other Activities
Presenter for Physics Workshop Project
Sabbatical year spent with Little Shop of Physics 2010-2011

Commentary
While I was a graduate student, I taught as an adjunct Math instructor at Austin Community College and discovered that teaching at the community college was where my passion lay.  I have spent my career as a community college instructor having taught Physics as well as Math and Astronomy.  As a community college instructor, I have become very aware of how important AAPT is to the community of Two-year College (TYC) Physics instructors.  About 25% of TYC Physics instructors are members of AAPT and AAPT's Committee on Physics in Two-year Colleges is a vital group, with strong attendance at national meetings and great creativity.  Conversely, the TYC community is vital to the mission of AAPT.  The last, and only, comprehensive survey of Physics in TYCs - carried out over a decade ago - revealed that about 1/3 of students taking introductory physics at the post-secondary level took it at a TYC.  This fraction has certainly grown in the intervening years and an upcoming survey will update the datum.  To fully serve the needs of students in introductory post-secondary physics courses, AAPT needs to address the needs of TYC faculty.  A significant role of the two-year representative to the AAPT Board is to help make the Board aware of those needs, particularly as defined by the Committee on Physics in Two-year Colleges, and to facilitate AAPT addressing those needs.

Another area of interest to me is the development of both in-service and pre-service teachers.  I believe that AAPT should continue to play a central role in physics teacher development not only through participation in efforts such as PTEC, but also through the content at national meetings.  The workshops at national meetings are a vital component of the meetings and present the members a rich opportunity to get new ideas and gain expertise about teaching.  AAPT has not been immune to the difficult financial times in which we live, and is seeking ways to cut costs.  One consideration is the reduction of workshops at national meetings, particularly since workshop attendance has been lower recently.  As AAPT deliberates this and other measures, I would like to assist in a data drive effort, which takes into account the contribution of workshop to AAPT meetings and how they are a significant part of what makes an AAPT meeting unique.