HPU Faculty and Students Recognized for Research and Innovation

High Point University students Liz Cabrera, Laylah Welch, Meaghan Robinson, Candyce Sturgeon and Mackenzie Crow published research that was featured in Genes, an open access journal from Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). From left to right are Cabrera, Crow, Robinson, Sturgeon, Welch and Dr. Veronica Segarra, interim chair and assistant professor of biology.


HIGH POINT, N.C., Nov. 5, 2020 – 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 recent research initiatives.

HPU Students Publish Research in MDPI’s Genes

High Point University students Liz Cabrera, Laylah Welch, Meaghan Robinson, Candyce Sturgeon and Mackenzie Crow published research that was featured in Genes, an open access journal from Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI).

Their research explores cryopreservation, which is the process that preserves organelles, cells and tissues through low temperatures, and the freeze-thaw response in yeast. The students focused mainly on the methods and results in the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

The review-based research, titled “Cryopreservation and the Freeze-Thaw Stress Response in Yeast,” is important to human and medical biology because yeast cells can be utilized as models for cells in humans.

“Understanding potential cryopreservation effects toward yeast can give insight on how the process could affect human cells that need to be preserved for a period of time throughout a study or for therapeutic applications,” says Cabrera.

HPU Graduate Publishes Research in Columbia Journal of Undergraduate History

Chasen Jeffries, a member of HPU’s Class of 2019, published the article “Spartan Austerity and Bribery” in the Columbia Journal of Undergraduate History.

Jeffries learned that popular perception of ancient Sparta is that of a belligerent polis, or community, with austere men and an invincible army. But according to Xenophon, a Greek philosopher, Spartan ideals of austerity, equality and honor declined especially during the Peloponnesian War. Jeffries research confirms Xenophon’s theory of decline using information from historians such as Herodotus and Thucydides that document Spartan corruption and bribery. Although there is evidence of corruption from the earliest sources on Spartan history, it became more widespread, both on campaign and within Sparta, during the fifth century.

“When I first started this journey with an individual study course under the mentorship of Dr. Jackie Arthur-Montagne, assistant professor of history, I was seeking a challenge. I wanted to be pushed to sharpen and refine my researching, analysis and writing skills in the hope of creating an article worthy of publication.”

Jeffries presented his research at two conferences, the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research last November and Creativity Symposium and the American Historical Association in January.

Dr. Brad Barlow Co-Authors Peer-Reviewed Paper in Astrophysical Journal

Dr. Brad Barlow, associate professor of astrophysics, and several collaborators recently published a peer-reviewed paper on their discovery of a new, extreme binary star system called EVR-CB-004 in the Astrophysical Journal, the highest-ranked academic journal for astrophysics in the world by Google Scholar. Data from several large telescopes on Earth and in space were required to study the binary star system, including the 4.1-meter SOAR telescope (Chile), the Evryscope telescope array (Chile), the SMARTS 1.5-meter telescope (Chile), and NASA’s TESS spacecraft (in elliptical cislunar orbit about Earth).

EVR-CB-004 is the first system of its kind ever found. It consists of a hot subdwarf star which is a red giant that was stripped of its outermost layer, in very close orbit with a dense stellar remnant called a “white dwarf.” The two stars are close together and orbit very rapidly, about once every six hours. Additionally, the white dwarf with its intense gravity deforms the shape of the hot subdwarf star. Instead of it being spherical, which is typical for stars, it’s more of a stretched ellipsoidal football shape. The two stars will slowly spiral in as they emit gravitational waves. Barlow and researchers think the starts will one day merge to form a single, high-mass white dwarf star.

“I enjoyed working on this project as it required us to combine together different types of data sets from telescopes on the ground and in space,” says Barlow. “Modeling this unique system was challenging, but our results indicate we have caught this pair of stars in an extremely rare stage of evolution, which is exciting.”

The research above was conducted by a team of international astronomers at HPU, UNC-Chapel Hill, Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany, University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics and the University of Virginia.

HPU Biology Professors Publish Research in the Frontiers in Agronomy Journal

Dr. Cindy Vigueira, associate professor of biology, and Dr. Patrick Vigueira, assistant professor of biology, both in the Wanek School of Natural Sciences, recently published the article “Weedy Rice from South Korea Arose from Two Distinct De-Domestication Events” in the Frontiers in Agronomy journal.

Weedy rice is an aggressive weed of rice cultivation worldwide. Populations of weedy rice are the result of de-domestication events where cultivated rice varieties “go feral” and become weedy in the field. The Vigueiras’ research has been focused on studying the evolution of weedy rice populations in different world regions. In this publication, they sequenced genes from several weedy rice plants that were collected in South Korea and compared those sequences to weedy rice plants from the United States. They found that weedy rice populations from South Korea are genetically distinct populations that evolved independently from weedy rice populations in the United States.

“Publication is an important portion of the scientific process,” says Dr. Cindy Vigueira. “When my work is published, it allows scientists from around the world to incorporate my findings into their hypotheses for future work. Each publication is an incremental step toward a better understanding of the world around us. I am always excited to be part of that process.”

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