Big Bang Theory

Experimental Nuclear Physicist Michael H. Wood, PhD, doesn’t come to work every day and ask ‘What is the meaning of the universe.’ Rather, he works to understand the building blocks that make up the universe.

Wood is an experimental nuclear physicist. He studies how the nucleus of an atom fits together, both at Canisius and at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, VA, where he is a collaborator. Operated by the Department of Energy, the nuclear physics center houses an electron beam accelerator, which researchers such as Wood use to shoot electrons directly into an atom’s nucleus to cause it to break apart.

“I then take the scattered pieces and try to fit them back together to figure out the dynamics of the nucleus and the very nature of matter, itself,” explains Wood, who earned his BS in physics from The Catholic University of America, and his MS and PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Wood perfected himself as a scientist during two post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the University of South Carolina.

He is now a source of inspiration for undergraduate science students at Canisius. The assistant professor involves majors in much of his active research at the Jefferson Lab. He also peaks the curiosity of incoming freshmen by demonstrating that physics is not an abstract area of research but rather relevant in everyday life. Physics, he says, holds the answer to such questions as how magnets stick to refrigerators, how police recreate accident scenes and how the Earth orbits the Sun.

One of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation, Canisius is the premier private university in Western New York.