HIGH POINT, N.C., July 12, 2017 – Each year, High Point University students seize summer as an opportunity to put their scholarly research skills to work in the community, scientific laboratories and beyond.
In addition to the research projects and creative works they complete in the academic year, the Summer Research Institute, Summer Research Fellowship and the Summer Research Program in the Sciences pair students with faculty mentors who guide their work across a range of academic disciplines, including psychology, English, biology, chemistry, physics, exercise science, international relations and criminal justice.
Many students are conducting research in connection with community organizations such as Providence Place, High Point Jail Ministry, Pennybyrn at Maryfield and Morgan, Herring, Morgan, Green & Rosenblutt LLP.
For Deanna Lee, an Arizona native double majoring in biology and psychology, her work focuses on residents at Providence Place, an assisted living facility in High Point. She visits residents several times a week to test her hypothesis: Can narrative storytelling improve the health and overall well-being of elderly people?
“You hear people often say that the elderly like to tell stories and talk a lot,” Lee says. “I know from my own experience that listening to an elderly member tell stories about their past brings a huge smile to their face. I want to know if getting them to talk about their past in detail and often will help them feel solidified in their identity, help them realize their life was worth something and help them feel good about all that they’ve experienced and accomplished.”
Students also conduct research in teams. Emily Davis and Amanda Vo, both pre-law students, are building a database focused on the economics of practicing law. They’re documenting what certain sectors, such as personal injury or family law, require for law school graduates to get started, thanks to an opportunity at Morgan, Herring, Morgan, Green & Rosenblutt LLP in High Point.
“These students are building a database that considers how much time and money go into cases in different types of law and what the actual return on investment is,” says Dr. Joanne Altman, director of Undergraduate Research and Creative Works at HPU and the faculty mentor for the project. “This can help new law school graduates pick the best types of law to practice based on their circumstances and goals.”
Then there are scientific research labs at HPU, where undergraduate science students are focusing on projects such as examining molecules that could potentially be used against Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), the adaptive function of the Christmas fern, gene mutations linked to breast cancer, and, in collaboration with the Mariana H. Qubein Arboretum & Botanical Gardens on campus, creating a Veronia breeding program to produce plants that are both aesthetically pleasing and ecologically friendly. Some of these projects also include local high school students thanks to the Draelos Scholars for Science Program.
Altman leads other research and creative works-focused programs during the academic year, such as Research Rookies. That program welcomes freshmen immediately into a culture of scholarly learning.
“HPU’s research program stands out because we invite freshmen from the moment they step onto campus into a research culture,” she says. “Instead of waiting until a senior year research project, we get them started immediately on the foundational skills.”
Thanks to summer experiences like these and faculty mentors across campus, she’s seen HPU students graduate with numerous completed projects on their resumes and a wealth of knowledge, skills and passion to present to future employers.
“Employers want someone who can solve problems,” Altman says. “Research teaches students to communicate complex issues, find solutions, present to diverse groups of people and, ultimately, stand out from the crowd.”