2018 National Board of Directors Election Candidate for Treasurer

Thomas L. O'Kuma

Thomas L. O’Kuma

Physical Sciences, Lee College, Baytown, TX  77522


B.S. Physics and Math, Louisiana Tech University; M.S. Physics, Louisiana Tech University; additional graduate studies, Physics and Math, University of Florida and University of Houston–Clear Lake.

Teaching Experience

Faculty, Physics, Lee College (1989-present); Faculty, Physics and Math, San Jacinto College North and South campuses (1976-1989); Mathematics, Engineering and Sciences Division Chairperson, Lee College (2007- 2013, summer II 2014-present); Physical Sciences Lead Teacher, Lee College (1991-2014).

National AAPT Activities

Meetings Committee (Chair, January 2010 – January 2013; member, January 2007 – January 2010); Texas Section Representative (1992-1996 and 2006-2012); Executive Officer Search Committee (member 2010); Announcer Review Committee (Chair, 2003-2004); The Physics Teacher Editor Search Committee (Chair, 1999-2000); Executive Board (Vice President, 1996-1997; President Elect, 1997-1998; President, 1998-1999; Past President, 1999-2000; Treasurer, 2017-present); Nominations Committee (member, 1992-1993; chair, 2007-2008); The Physics Teacher Review Committee (member 1995-1996; chair, 2015-2017); Awards Committee (member, 1998-2000; chair, 1999-2000); New Faculty Experience for Two Year College Faculty (presenter 2011-2017); Rural Regional Center Coordinator for Rural PTRA Project (2003-2009); Membership and Benefits Committee (member 1995-1998, 2017-present); TYC21 Project (steering committee member, 1993-2003); Personnel and Finance Committee (member, 1997-2000; chair, 1998-1999); National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics (member, 2000 – 2012); Revitalization of Physics (steering committee member, 1997-1999), SPIN-UP (steering committee member 2001-2012); Council (member, 1992 – 2000, 2006-2012 and 2017-present; chair, 1999); Section Reps/Area Chairs Retreat (2007), Board Retreat (2006); SPIN-UP/TYC Project (principal investigator, 2003-2006); Women in Physics Committee (member 1992 – 1995); Laboratory Committee (member 2006 – 2009); Professional Concerns Committee (member 2009-2012); Two Year College Committee (member 1988-1992); Committee on the Interest of Senior Physicists (member 2016-2018, Chair, 2016); Awarded AAPT Distinguished Service Citation, 1994; Awarded Excellence in Introductory College Physics Teaching Award, 2002; Awarded Melba Newell Phillips Medal, 2016.

Texas Section of AAPT Activities

Section officer continuously since 1988 – serving as Workshop Coordinator (1988-present), Vice President (1987-1988), President Elect (1988-1989), President (1989 – 1990), Past President (1990 – 1991), and Section Representative (1992 – 1996 and 2006-2012); Local host for Fall 1984 meeting at San Jacinto College North and local host for Spring 2015 meeting at Lee College; Awarded Robert N. Little Award for Outstanding Contributions to Physics in Higher Education in Texas, 1994

Other Professional Activities

NSF grants to conduct workshops for two-year college physics faculty (1991-2017), and high school physics faculty (2001-2017) – principal investigator or co-principal investigator; Consultant on physics enhancement projects for high school physics/physical science teachers (1988-2001); NSF grants for physics enhancement projects for two-year college physics faculty (1991-2005) ; AIP – Governing Board (member 1997-2000); Committee on Committees (member 1997-2000, Chair 1999-2000); Liaison Committee on Physics Education (member 1997-2012, Chair 1998-2003); Nominating Committee (member 1997-1999); APS - AAPT Advisor to APS Council (1998); member 1974-2011; Texas Section APS (member 1983-present).


AAPT has always made physics and physics education accessible to a wide audience.  It has embraced a diversity of members and member interests from teaching at all levels (and all that this encompasses) to physics research.  It has achieved this through the hard work of many volunteers (our members) and a small, dedicated professional staff.

As a past member of the Executive Board, I have seen how the Board works and I know what will be expected of the treasurer as a Board member.  I have served as the treasurer this past year and I know what is required and how to execute the duties of the position.  I have served on a wide variety of AAPT committees, task forces, and worked on a number of special events.  I have collaborated with other professional societies, including APS and AIP, to develop and implement a variety of projects in physics and physics teaching.

As we move deeper into the twenty-first century, AAPT is faced with the challenge of providing ways for physics teachers and educators to exchange ideas and information on physics curriculum, research in physics and physics education, and physics teaching.  AAPT, through its national meetings, publications, and other services is striving to meet this challenge while remaining true to its mission and goals.  I believe I can help AAPT meet this challenge and to achieve its goals.