Thomas L. O'KumaSpecial Election, 2013 National Executive Board Candidate for President

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 Chairperson, Lee College (2007- 2013)
Physical Sciences Lead Teacher, Lee College (1991-present)  


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)
  • Nominations Committee (member, 1992-1993; chair, 2007-2008)
  • The Physics Teacher Review Committee (member 1995-1996)
  • Awards Committee (member, 1998-2000; chair, 1999-2000)
  • New Faculty Experience for Two Year College Faculty (presenter 2011-present)
  • Rural Regional Center Coordinator for Rural PTRA Project (2003-2009)
  • Membership and Benefits Committee (member 1995-1998)
  • 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 and 2006-2012; 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)
  • Awarded AAPT Distinguished Service Citation, 1994
  • Awarded Excellence in Introductory College Physics Teaching Award, 2002

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-present,;and high school physics faculty, 2001-present) – 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 (member governing board, 1997-2000; member committee on committee 1997-2000, chair 1999-2000; member of liaison committee on physics education 1997-2012, chair 1998-2003; member of nominating committee 1997-1999)
  • APS (member 1974-2011); AAPT Advisor to Council 1998)

AAPT has always made physics and physics education accessible to as wide an audience as possible.  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 professional staff.

As a past member of the Executive Board, I have seen how it works and I know what will be expected of me.  Having served through the four-year presidential chain, I know what is expected during the next two years and how to do execute these duties.  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.

On a purely personal note, as a member of the search committee that recommended hiring Dr. Cunningham, I’d like to work with her to lead AAPT into the future.  I have also worked with Dr. Hilborn on many projects over the last 15 years.