HIGH POINT, N.C., Nov. 30, 2017 – 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.
Biology professor and students publish research on native ferns
Dr. Niky Hughes, associate professor of biology, along with HPU biology majors Sarah Forget, class of 2017, and Elizabeth Parker, class of 2016, will have their research on a native fern published in an upcoming issue of the journal “Environmental and Experimental Botany.”
The species that they studied, Polystichum acrostichoides, is an evergreen fern that occurs in deciduous forests throughout the eastern United States. “This fern is unique because it lays its fronds flat against the ground during winter,” Hughes says. “If you go hiking in the woods in North Carolina during winter, you will definitely see it. It looks just like a normal fern, but flat as a pancake.”
The objective of their research was to determine whether there was any benefit to the fronds laying flat in winter. To answer this question, the students monitored the microclimate and physiology of naturally flat fronds, and compared them to fronds that they propped upright.
“We found that the flat leaves were significantly warmer than upright leaves,” says Hughes, “And also, that humidity below the flat fronds was much higher than the ambient air. It’s like the plant is engineering its microclimate to be warm and humid during an otherwise cold, dry season.”
“The experience in research methods and the specific concentration in studying plant ecology led me to pursue a teaching career in environmental science,” says Parker, who is currently teaching high school earth science in Wake County. “I will apply the skills and knowledge of this opportunity within my classroom for years to come.”
Forget, who will graduate in December, says she will be using this experience to help launch her into an academic career in plant biology. “Being able to participate in this research was an excellent opportunity because it combined my love of plants with learning skills and techniques that I will use in my future career,” says Forget, who is applying to Ph.D. programs in plant biology at the universities of Hawaii, Georgia and California. “My undergraduate research experiences not only confirmed that I want to pursue a plant-focused field, but also helped me identify what I find the most interesting.”
Pharmaceutical Sciences Professor Presents Research to US Rep. Ted Budd
Dr. Comfort Boateng, assistant professor of basic pharmaceutical sciences, recently presented her research to U.S. Rep. Ted Budd during the Society for Neuroscience 2017 Annual Meeting Congressional Floor Tour in Washington, D.C.
Boateng’s research poster, titled “Selected D4R Antagonist Ligands as Molecular Tools to Study Addiction,” studied the role of the dopaminergic system in neurological disorders, leading to medication discovery to treat diseases, such as drug addiction, schizophrenia, ADHD and Parkinson’s Disease.
“The Society for Neuroscience participants are mostly scientists and physicians with neuroscience research backgrounds with interest in the brain and nervous system,” Boateng explains. “This annual meeting allows researchers to come together to share new ideas, collaborate and learn from each other.”
Also, she adds, the annual meeting gives researchers the opportunity to share their findings to members of Congress, which helps gain support for the National Institutes of Health with grant funding or support for biomedical research.
Clinical Sciences Professor Publishes Article in Clinical Microbiology Journal
Dr. Jordan Smith, assistant professor of clinical sciences at HPU, recently published an article, titled “Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia Management in a Large Community Healthcare Network: A Propensity Score Matched, Quasi-Experimental Study” in Diagnostic Microbiology & Infectious Disease.
The article details Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterial species that is a frequent cause of illness, hospitalization and death in the United States, and it is the second leading cause of healthcare-associated infections.
“When Staphylococcus aureus enters the bloodstream, the resulting infection kills roughly one in every five patients who acquire the bacterial infection,” Smith explains. “Optimal management is paramount to successful treatment, and that management consists of several known factors – including appropriate antibiotic selection, ensuring clearance of the bacteria from the bloodstream and consultation with an infectious disease specialist, among others.”
Smith says that research he took part in included a pharmacist-led intervention that targeted patients within the Cone Health system who were ill with Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections. There, the infectious diseases pharmacist would receive a notification when Staphylococcus aureus isolate was found, then would have the ability to evaluate the patient and make recommendations regarding appropriate care. The study compared pre-intervention and post-intervention, and found that pharmacy involvement was associated with significantly more appropriate antibiotic treatment and therapy.
“The results of our study demonstrate that pharmacist-led therapeutic interventions in infectious diseases can impact appropriate care in a hospital setting, and they can also lead to decreased readmission,” Smith says. “Going forward, expansion of these pharmacist-led initiatives to other aspects of care are likely to demonstrate similar value and improve the care of our patients.”
Clinical Sciences Professor Publishes Guideline in Clinical Survival Guide
Dr. Christy Sherrill, assistant professor of clinical sciences, recently published a clinical guideline, titled “Professional Continuous Glucose Monitoring: Fourteen Day Procedure” in the 4th edition of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Ambulatory Care Survival Guide.
The publication is a protocol for the use of a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device in an outpatient clinic. The device collects patient blood glucose data for 14 days.
“What is unique about this protocol and pertinent as we strive to improve diabetes care for patients is that it demonstrated a way to utilize CGM technology to obtain baseline data, make pharmacotherapeutic (change to diabetes medication, particularly insulin) and lifestyle – diet or exercises – interventions at an office visit based on that baseline blood glucose data,” Sherrill says. “This allows pharmacists to directly see the results of the interventions on subsequent blood glucose data.”
The major takeaway, she says, is that by working with an ambulatory care pharmacist to use this continuous glucose monitoring device, patients and pharmacists alike are able to see the impact of medications and healthy eating, while continuing to make improvements on medication regimens and lifestyle interventions.
Chemistry Professors Author Article in Peer-Reviewed Journal
Dr. Heather Miller and Dr. Melissa Srougi, both assistant professors of chemistry at HPU, recently co-authored an article, titled “Peer Learning as a Tool to Strengthen Math Skills in Introductory Chemistry Laboratories,” which appeared in ”Chemistry Education Research and Practice.”
The article stemmed from research Miller began after being selected as an HPU Teaching Scholar, which allowed her and Srougi to further study basic math skills that are important to success in chemistry.
“We measured not only mathematical learning gains, but also student attitudes,” Miller says. “We found that students who were assigned a lab partner who differed in math skills had higher mathematical learning gains than students who chose a partner. In particular, students in the 50th percentile in math performance benefited. In addition, assigned students reported a more positive shift in attitude toward working with their peers, as well as higher confidence in both chemistry knowledge and lab skills.”
Miller adds that through the HPU Teaching Scholars program, she was able to develop, implement it and gain valuable feedback on this scholarship from other faculty. She and Dr. Srougi have been researching peer learning for several years, and have also co-authored a paper publishedin “Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education.”