Explore Research Opportunities with New Website

Share This:



Special Feature

Explore Research Opportunities with New Website

Find Resources and Collaborations as you Build your Research Community


Wren Gregory, Zone 5 Associate Zone Councilor

University of North Carolina-Asheville

Wren Gregory (middle) built the new website with the help of Dylan Cromer (right) and Natalie Kamitsuka (left). Photo courtesy of Wren Gregory.

Physics undergraduates know that hands-on experiences are crucial in preparing us for our futures. Those opportunities shape our passions and guide our goals as physicists. I can remember my first taste of research as a sophomore at my small liberal arts college in North Carolina. Working to calibrate a radio interferometer, I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of something for which the outcome was unknown and my contributions helped to blaze a trail.

But it wasn’t long before I saw the limitations undergraduates interested in contemporary physics research face, especially at smaller institutions. In my case, I lacked the specialized equipment necessary for my experiment. My team began a search for an institution that would collaborate with us and allow us to use their resources to achieve our objective: growing graphene. As I emailed, called, and met with professors I did not know, I began to wish there was a site for physics students where we could search for equipment and collaborations. Then I thought, “Why don’t I just start one?” That lead to the creation of Expanding Opportunity (http://zone5physics.wix.com/opportunity).

Screenshot from the Expanding Opportunity site. Images courtesy of Wren Gregory.

As the SPS associate zone councilor for the Carolinas, I started close to home and focused on including schools in my zone. The Opportunity Database collects posts from schools and private research facilities that have volunteered their resources to help motivated students perform advanced research. We are proud to include contacts for a variety of resources, including North Carolina State University’s Analytical Instrumentation Facility, Clemson University’s Electron Beam Ion Trap (EBIT), and University of North Carolina Asheville’s Lookout Observatory. We also provide links to scholarships, awards, free software, and REUs.

Although we are just getting started, we have big ambitions. My vision is to create a national community of physics students that tackle complicated projects together and copublish results. This would benefit not only savvy students, who can acquire a wider variety of practical laboratory skills, but universities as well. I hope to introduce students to great projects, mentors, and other motivated students who are interested in the same areas. This community creates contacts with potential graduate programs and employers, and prepares us for serious research as soon as possible.

I am lucky to know Dylan Cromer and Natalie Kamitsuka, two enthusiastic students who, along with our zone councilor, Dr. Randy Booker, have agreed to help me grow this database. I would like to put a call out to any students or professors reading this today. If you would like to encourage the progression of this student-centered avenue for research, we would be happy to have you on board! //

Get Involved

Contact us at

More from this department

Special Feature