AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers

Joe Kozminski - May 2016 Member SpotlightSpotlight Archive

Member Spotlight

Joe Kozminski
Lewis University, Romeoville, IL

As an undergraduate tutor and a graduate teaching assistant, I found a passion for teaching physics and astronomy and was interested in pursuing this passion after graduate school. While still a graduate student in experimental high energy physics, I joined the AAPT in 2004, mainly to receive the American Journal of Physics and The Physics Teacher. That year I also attended my first Chicago Section meeting, and I was hooked. I found a welcoming community of physics teachers who were willing to share their experiences and resources and to mentor some graduate student who randomly showed up at their meeting.

During my second year as an Assistant Professor at Lewis University, I attended the Winter Meeting in Seattle, my first national meeting. Talk about an invigorating experience! From the workshops, presentations, and networking, I came back with pages of notes and ideas that I wanted to adapt for my classes as well as a reminder of how much I still had to learn as a teacher. I am always trying to enhance student learning and engagement in the classroom and the students' development as experimental scientists in the lab, and the AAPT has continued to be a great resource for professional development.

The AAPT has also provided an invaluable forum for disseminating my own work and getting feedback from other physics teachers both locally and nationally. The connections I have made at the sectional and national meetings and through affiliate organization like ALPhA (the Advance Lab Physics Association) have been invaluable and have led to various collaborations like working with JAUPLI (Journal of the Advanced Undergraduate Physics Laboratory Investigation). I have been especially interested in the laboratory curriculum and student learning and skill development in the lab, and I am very grateful to those in the laboratory and apparatus communities for many great discussions and ideas and for the feedback they have given me along the way.

At that first national meeting, I was encouraged to attend committee meetings as well, and that turned out to be career-changing. I contributed an idea, and soon found myself organizing a session for the next winter meeting under the guidance of a couple of highly respected AAPT members. I realized that committee involvement was my opportunity to give back, and I have now served on two area committees and the Meetings Committee, and I have been given the opportunity to serve on the Undergraduate Curriculum Task Force Executive Committee and to chair the Lab Goals Subcommittee, which wrote the AAPT Recommendations for the Undergraduate Physics Curriculum. When I started teaching and attending AAPT meetings, I never saw myself getting into policy and curriculum development in this way. However, my career and professional interests have evolved in such a way that when these doors opened for me at the AAPT, I stepped through. I have found the work very gratifying and the people I have worked with inspirational. 

I cannot thank the AAPT enough for all the opportunities I have been afforded for professional development, for dissemination of my work, and for professional service. These have, most importantly, allowed me to grow as a teacher and continuously enhance my students' learning experience in the classroom and lab, but they have also played a major role in my career trajectory and in my tenure and promotions at Lewis. Moreover, the support I have received from the AAPT community has been incredible. I feel very fortunate to have made countless connections and many friends through my involvement with the AAPT. I would especially like to thank the many people in the Chicago Section, the national AAPT, and affiliate organizations who have mentored me and who have influenced my career path and my teaching over the years.