Gregory Wood

Gregory Wood

Associate Professor of Physics Gregory Wood enjoys showing students how physics is a fundamental part of everyday life.

“At the interface between math and natural phenomena, physics techniques can be used for almost any problem,” he said. “Physicists combine scientific knowledge with imagination and ingenuity to find technological solutions to the world’s challenges.”

Students in his Thermal Physics class, for example, learn and apply concepts used to calculate the heat of materials in areas ranging from solar energy to sports. In Quantum Physics, his students experiment with principles and techniques that be applied in fields including optics and cybersecurity. Students in his Sustainability in Campus Infrastructure course combine physics and environmentalism, installing sensors to measure the use of water, power, trash, recycling and the Internet at the Santa Rosa Island Research Station.

“Physics is excellent general training to go into any technical field,” he said. “Results from surveys, such as the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reports, show degrees in general physics are equally valuable as highly specialized degrees in engineering, but allow students to go into virtually any technical field.”

Wood discovered his own passion for physics thanks to an inspiring high school teacher who connected class theory with hands-on lab experimentation. Wood takes a similar approach, guiding students through fun and practical exercises that allow them to make meaningful of use of challenging math and physics concepts.

He also reaches out to secondary school students in Ventura County, partnering with the Hueneme High Academy of Engineering and Design to inspire and prepare students to tackle physics and other STEM-related disciplines.

“Dr. Wood is always working to make physics understandable and accessible,” said Geordan Waldman, a CI senior who has taken several classes and independent study with Wood. “He uses unique examples that help you grasp the concept and also make you laugh and remember it. He’s always looking out for students’ best interests. When I got my internship at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland), he helped me get funding so I wouldn’t have to pay for the trip out of pocket.”

Wood worked his own way through college as a computer programmer at UCSD’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences before earning his Ph.D. at UC Riverside in 2000 and teaching physics at CSU Northridge. A CI faculty member since 2005, he’s been instrumental in obtaining grants to develop novel programs, including the University’s Campus As A Living Lab grant, which enabled the Sustainability in Campus Infrastructure UNIV 492 course, and the Science Literacy Concept Inventory, a systemwide test to gauge success and science literacy among university students in general education science courses.

“I love the challenges students provide,” Wood said. “Hearing from students who felt they could not learn physics, but were successful in a course here at CI is inspiring.”