Physics professor talks hobbies outside of college
Physics professor, Tad Thurston
Physics professor, Tad Thurston, sits at his desk and talks science, music and theater. Melissa Sue Lopez/Pioneer

The love of science and the intention to help others is what brought Physics Professor Tad Thurston to teach at OCCC 12 years ago.

Thurston said his interest in science grew after he read the science fiction novel, “Contact” by Carl Sagan. The novel tells the story of an astrophysicist’s mission to make the connection between human and extraterrestrial life.

Originally a declared engineering major, Thurston said he took an astronomy class on supernovas as he took his second year engineering courses.

Eventually, his interest in learning more about supernovas became greater than designing machine parts, Thurston said. As a result, he changed his major from engineering to astrophysics.

Thurston graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Astrophysics and a master’s and a doctoral degree in physics.

Thurston said his advice to students for success is to learn their best study methods, manage their time, and engage with material a little bit every day.

“Generally the people who come here are people that are really trying, and it might be their last shot at an education, or might be their only shot because of finances,” Thurston said.

“It just feels worthwhile, which is about the most you can ask of any job.”

Thurston said working at OCCC has kept him close to science but has also been the place of lasting memories and the root of strong friendships.

Tad Thurston
Physics Professor, Tad Thurston, uses a diffraction grating with a laser to split light into little pieces.

He’s made friends across campus, many of whom are from the English and Humanities or Arts departments, including his “bestie,” Julie Corff, speech communications professor, Thurston said.

Although Thurston may be well-known to many in the science department and across campus, what they might not know is Thurston’s drummer skills and his role in local theater.

With engineering professor Gregory Holland on the bass, biology professor, Julian Hilliard on one set of drums and Thurston on another, the only piece of the puzzle missing is a lead singer, Thurston said.

“We appreciate good rock music,” Thurston said. ”The three of us have gone to some concerts together,.We saw RUSH this last summer.”

Not only does the physics professor play drums as a hobby outside the classroom, but also he has recently taken the time to explore community theater.

Thurston said he appeared in the two-person play, “Four Poster,” as Michael, husband of Agnes, in the Jewel Box Theater’s production, directed by Terry Runnels, late last year.

“It was exhausting because with only two people, it’s a lot of lines, and we had a big long character arc to go through,” Thurston said.

“Four Poster,” is a play which tells the story of a couple and their journey through their 35 year marriage, Thurston said.

“It was very dramatic. But now that it’s over, I look back on it and I’m really proud of it.”

Thurston also enjoys golfing and jogging in his spare time.

Thurston said he was born in Hampton, Virginia on an Air Force base but has been living in Oklahoma for 34 years.


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