HPU Faculty and Students Recognized for Research and Innovation

HIGH POINT, N.C., Aug. 30, 2018 – Members of the High Point University community frequently conduct, publish and share research and creative works in a variety of ways. Below is a recap of research initiatives from the past month.

 

HPU Graduate, Professors Publish Article on Antibiotic Resistance

Kyra Gillard

A 2018 HPU graduate and two chemistry professors published their findings on a novel approach to fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Kyra Gillard, who graduated with a biochemistry degree in May; her research mentor Dr. Meghan Blackledge, assistant professor of chemistry; and Dr. Heather Miller, assistant professor of chemistry, describe a series of FDA-approved antidepressants that disarm the resistant mechanisms of MRSA and allow the bacteria to be killed with common antibiotics, such as penicillin. Their article, “Tricyclic Amine Antidepressants Suppress β‐lactam Resistance in Methicillin‐Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) by Repressing mRNA Levels of Key Resistance Genes,” is in the latest issue of the journal Chemical Biology and Drug Design. Gillard initiated this research while participating in HPU’s Summer

Undergraduate Research Program in the Sciences (SuRPS) in 2016.

Dr. Meghan Blackledge

“Antibiotic resistance is a growing public health issue,” says Blackledge. “Our paper identifies an important new scaffold for therapies that can reinvigorate existing antibiotics for the treatment of MRSA. This work is also a testament to the excellent undergraduate research and collaborative culture at HPU. Undergraduate research and experiential learning are hallmarks of an HPU education, and we are pleased that Kyra’s hard work and dedication to this project over the last two years have come to fruition in this publication.”

Dr. Heather Miller

“Coming into the project at the beginning allowed me to be involved in the initial problem-solving of determinizing how to proceed with the experiment. It was really exciting to be able to carry it from the initial stages into a final, publishable product,” says Gillard, who is continuing her studies in a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program at the University of California, San Diego. “HPU allowed me to be involved in a project of significant impact and connected me with a lifelong mentor in Dr. Blackledge. She’s always encouraged me to work hard and shoot for my goals, even if they seem out of reach.”

 

Physics Instructor Studies Space Object During NASA Expedition to Senegal

Jeff Regester

HPU physics instructor Jeff Regester was among a group of scientists that assisted NASA on an expedition to Senegal to study a small object in the outer solar system. Known as 2014 MU69, or “Ultima Thule,” the object is about 20 kilometers across and has been seen only by the Hubble Space Telescope. In late July, Regester traveled to Senegal, where he assisted with setting up 24 telescopes to watch as MU69 passed in front of a distant star on Aug. 4. They measured the duration and time of the blink of the star as MU69 passed to refine the object’s orbit, location and size. Regester says NASA will use this information to plan the flight path of the New Horizons probe, which is helping scientists explore the outer areas of the solar system past Pluto. The spacecraft is scheduled for a flyby of MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019.

Jeff Regester in Senegal

“This expedition was a complex operation, and the support of our Senegalese partners was crucial to its success. We even met President Macky Sall, who expressed his government’s welcome and support,” says Regester. “The information we collected will allow mission planners to optimize the actual path New Horizons will take past MU69, the programming of its instruments, and also assure the survival of the spacecraft. Pay attention to the news as you ring in the New Year for what will surely be some amazing pictures and data streaming back to Earth.”

 

Professor Organizes Symposium at International Conference

Dr. Sadie Leder Elder

Dr. Sadie Leder Elder, associate professor of psychology at HPU, organized and chaired a symposium at the International Association for Relationship Research conference on July 14. Titled “Examining Predictors and Consequences of On-Again/Off-Again Romantic Relationships,” the symposium brought together psychology, communication, sociology, human development and marriage and family studies experts. Elder presented her research on the Risk Regulation Model of Relationship Rekindling. Her work found that the more hurtful a breakup is, the more likely it is for ex-partners to reunite. Elder says their drive to pursue the previously failed relationship comes from their fundamental need for connection.

“It was an honor to present alongside such accomplished and esteemed colleagues,” says Elder. “I am fortunate to be at an institution that supports my research program and encourages me to foster these interdisciplinary connections.”

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