Thomas L. O’Kuma Recognized with AAPT’s 2015 Melba Newell Phillips Medal
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
College Park, Maryland, United States, September 2, 2014—The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) announced today that the Melba Newell Phillips Medal has been awarded to Thomas L. O’Kuma, Physics Faculty, Lee College, Baytown, Texas, in recognition of his creative leadership and dedicated service that have resulted in exceptional contributions within AAPT.
The Medal will be presented during a Ceremonial Session of the AAPT 2015 Winter Meeting in San Diego, California.
Most recently he completed a term as the chair of the Meetings Committee. The parameters for the committee were being refined and its future was not clear. Tom led AAPT through the transition from meetings for a smaller organization to the recognition that the current size requires considerable coordination to manage the logistics of a campus meeting. The success of the recent summer meetings in Philadelphia and Minneapolis and the success of the new format for the winter meeting has its origin in the work O’Kuma did with the Meetings Committee.
Texas Section has benefited from his leadership as well. O’Kuma has provided professional development workshops at essentially every one of twice-yearly meetings. He has served in all of the Section officer roles, including Section Representative to AAPT, and is currently organizing the Texas Section spring meeting, highlighting the contributions of under-represented members of the community.
He has been a driving force for enhancing the educational opportunities for students in K-12 and the two year colleges, presenting at the New Faculty Experience for Two Year College Faculty and serving on the steering committee for TYC21 Project, as Principal Investigator of the SPIN-UP/TYC Project. As a PI of multiple grants, his focus has always been on the teaching aspect of physics and the research behind effective teaching strategies. He has co-authored several books based on PER. O’Kuma served as a rural PTRA site coordinator for nearly 10 years and worked side by side with the PTRAs leading the sessions. He has influenced and mentored thousands of teachers in Texas and across the United States.
O’Kuma received both his B.S. degree in physics and mathematics from Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA, and his M.S. in Physics (research field, statistical mechanics). He did additional graduate work in physics and mathematics at the University of Florida and the University of Houston Clear Lake.
On being recognized with this award, O’Kuma said:
About the Award