Summer Biology Research:
Summer Research Program in the Sciences (SuRPS) at High Point University (HPU)
Students pursuing an undergraduate degree in Biology have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty in the Department of Biology on an eight week summer research project. Students live on the HPU campus, interact with other students (Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics majors) in the program and have the opportunity to present the results of their work at an end of the program during a summer symposium. The Summer Undergraduate Research Program in the Sciences (SURPs) is organized by the Wanek School of Natural Sciences in collaboration with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Works.
Here is what some of our past SuRPS student researchers have to say about the program:
“We spent the first half of SuRPS in a crash course training on the dental anatomy of various mammals and the time period they lived in. With that in mind, it was time to search for fossilized teeth so we headed out to Wyoming along with Dr. George’s group. We would spend hours a day walking around the desert hoping to see that shine when the enamel of a tooth caught the sun. It’s still seems unreal that we found so many! Each night we would analyze the findings with the crew to determine what species the teeth belonged to, hoping for Esthonyx (the mammal we focused our studies on). After heading back to HPU, we borrowed Esthonyx specimens from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Dr. Ahrens taught Hannah and I how to analyze a tooth in various ways. Primarily we studied our designated landmarks and how they changed as time went on. With much more to learn, we worked with Dr. Ahrens throughout the next school year to continue our research. We were also given the chance to work in the Smithsonian to study the larger collection of Esthonyx samples they had in order to broaden our data. This was definitely one of the most interesting parts – who can say they’ve been in the archives of a national museum? It didn’t stop there, Dr. Ahrens worked with me to create a research poster for me to present at the AAA Experimental Biology Conference where we were award finalists. It was an honor to be able to attend such an event to conclude my college career. At first, I was hesitant to spend my summer at school, but I truly treasured the experience I was offered.
SuRPS isn’t just a summer program, it opened up so many opportunities for me. The program kept us occupied during the summer by catching a ball game with our professors. My advice to potential SuRPS candidates- take a chance on the unknown. If you knew everything, there would be nothing left to research. Take the time to learn from and with your professors outside of the typical classroom. You will get an unforgettable experience to reflect on and build your resume while you’re at it. Good luck!”
“SuRPS was the first research opportunity at High Point University that led me to continue doing research with Dr. George after my freshman year. During the Wyoming trip, I found myself enjoying what I learned in BIO 2000 (now BIO 2500) because I was immersed within ecology. I remember being able to learn how to present my research in front of peers as well, so I am forever thankful that I was able to experience this during my freshman year!”
“SuRPS provided me with the foundational skills in laboratory research that I still actively use in my research at SUNY Upstate Medical University. In addition to laboratory skills, I also gained experience in presenting my work in different ways to a variety of audiences.”
“SURPS is how I got my start in research at High Point University. I began the program with an idea about what research was, and I came out of it with a summer of extraordinary experiences and a future in a research group. I learned many valuable skills and laboratory techniques and helped develop the experiments with my research mentor. Ultimately, it was one of the experiences that I credit with having the most significant impact on my learning while at High Point University!”
“Before SuRPS I lacked confidence in my scientific abilities. However, this research experience allowed me the space to gain that confidence and comfort in a laboratory environment. Not only that, but I was able to form strong bonds with faculty mentors and fellow HPU students.”
“SuRPS was an incredible experience. Having the opportunity to spend a summer immersed in research was by far the most impactful experience for me during my time at HPU. I spent the summer developing a damage paradigm to study retinal regeneration in zebrafish. I was given individual instruction to not only learn new lab techniques, but how to interpret data and troubleshoot a variety of issues. The support I had from Dr. Ackerman and my lab mates gave me a huge confidence boost that I’ve taken with me past undergrad. Being able to present the work I did that summer at the SuRPS symposium and SYNAPSE (regional undergraduate Neuroscience meeting) was a fantastic experience as I not only gained confidence in public speaking, but learned how to present data to a varied audience. My employers and graduate school have both expressed to me that my experience planning and conducting my own experiments as well as having presented that work put me at a huge advantage in the interview process and was a direct reason to why I was selected. SuRPS is a great way to immerse yourself in science and have fun while doing it!”