HPU Faculty and Students Recognized for Research and Innovation

Dec 14th, 2020

HPU Faculty and Students Recognized for Research and Innovation

HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 14, 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.

Dr. Jeff Taylor
Dr. Kevin Ford


Drs. Kevin Ford and Jeffrey Taylor Receive Award from Adidas

Drs. Kevin Ford, interim dean of HPU’s Congdon School of Health Sciences, and Jeffrey Taylor, chair of HPU’s Department of Physical Therapy, were awarded a $14,532 grant from Adidas.

The grant titled, “The Female Athlete: Optimize and Promote Sport Movement” will allow Ford and Taylor to research biomechanical components which differentiate female athletes among a variety of dynamic sport tasks.  

“We are committed to working with female athletes within our laboratory and to better understand how to improve performance while also reducing risk of injury,” says Ford. “This project provides an opportunity to exam our previous work and summarize key areas to target in future projects.”

Ford and Taylor have worked with Adidas previously to oversee a study that provided local high school football players with free cleats. The athletes tested and completed questionnaires about the footwear throughout football season. Ford, Dr. Brett Pexa, assistant professor of athletic training, and Audrey Westbrook, research engineer, will also be working with Adidas on testing of prototype footwear with advanced biomechanical instrumentation housed within HPU’s Human Biomechanics and Physiology Laboratory. Ford emphasized that the work will be completed soon.

“These innovative projects provide our HPU students with key experiential learning opportunities that help prepare them for future careers and graduate programs,” says Ford.

HPU Biology Student Publishes Research in Biology Journal

Clara Primus, a junior and biology major and civic responsibility and social innovation minor, published research titled, “Scientific Societies Fostering Inclusivity through Speaker Diversity in Annual Meeting Programming: A Call to Action” in Molecular Biology of the Cell Journal.

The publication provides evidence-based recommendations for methods in which professional scientific societies can foster an inclusive environment at their annual meetings. Primus evaluated various approaches other societies have used and provided additional resources that societies may use during their annual meeting planning. She and other researchers also include a special section that gives insight into what these meetings may look like in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am very excited that I have been published for the second time,” says Primus. “I am very grateful for my research mentor, Dr. Veronica Segarra, and to my colleagues at the Mayo Clinic, who collaborated with me in my research. I really enjoy researching diversity, equity and inclusion within STEM because it ties together with my major and minor. Research has helped me apply what I have learned in the classroom to help create something that makes a difference in my community.”

Pictured from left to right are Ashlyn Hanks, Timmy Beal, Justin Riccardelli and Christos Haramis.

HPU Computer Science Students Win First Place at National Conference

Ashlyn Hanks, Timmy Beal, Justin Riccardelli and Christos Haramis, all students in HPU’s Webb School of Engineering, presented at this year’s 2020 Association for Computing Machinery’s Mid-Southeast research conference and earned first place in the undergraduate student poster competition.

The team’s research validated an existing model for detecting honeypots, an intentional vulnerable computing system designed to entice attackers into revealing tools and techniques, using networking characteristics. There were 18 student presentations in total, including two other HPU teams.

“There is so much to be extraordinarily proud of here,” says Dr. Jason Pittman, associate professor of computer science. “This is the team’s first research project together, and they knocked it out of the park. Conducting undergraduate research is hard enough as an extracurricular, but to present it at a conference and win first place, I can’t imagine a better way to cap off the fall semester. We’re extremely happy and look forward to continuing our work in spring.”

Dr. Joanne Altman Presents HPU’s Research Rookies Program as a National Model

Dr. Joanne Altman, director of undergraduate research and creative works, presented on the success of HPU’s Research Rookies Program at this year’s Association of American Colleges and Universities: Transforming STEM Higher Education Conference.

Paired with colleagues at Georgia State University, which started its own research program modeled off of HPU’s, Altman presented how HPU freshman students get started in undergraduate research rather than waiting until they’re upperclassmen.

“There is a myriad of research about the value of undergraduate research for retention, especially for underrepresented populations and in STEM, and for preparing students for careers,” said Altman. “Other colleges and universities are now following our lead about helping students navigate finding research opportunities and getting started early.”

HPU’s Research Rookies for freshmen is designed to create a community of undergraduate scholars and help build research-related skills to prepare students for faculty collaborative scholarship that makes an original contribution to one’s field.



Biology Professor Publishes Memoir on Mammals in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology

Dr. Heather Ahrens, assistant professor of biology in HPU’s Wanek School of Natural Sciences, was published in the Journal of Vertebrae Paleontology.

Her memoir titled, “Anatomy, Relationships, and Paleobiology of Cambaytherium (Mammalia, Perissodactylamorpha, Anthracobunia)” describes the anatomy and biology of Cambaytherium, an early relative of perissodactyls (horses, rhinos and tapirs) from India. Extensive fieldwork in India produced more than 300 specimens of this mammal, which provides insight on the early anatomy of this group, as well as changes what researchers know of the group’s geographic origins.

“It’s a big honor to publish a memoir in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, as there is only one published per year,” says Ahrens. “It is great to see our work over the past few years published as a highlight of the field and getting recognition from multiple outlets.”

Ahrens worked with scientists from the U.S., Belgium and India.


History Professor Presents Paper at Southern Conference on British Studies

Dr. Amanda Wrenn Allen, instructor of history, participated in the annual Southern Conference on British Studies where she presented her paper titled “The First Tabloid Queen: Henrietta Maria’s negative characterization in pro-Parliamentarian Civil War writings” on a panel titled “Religion and Politics in Times of Crisis.”

Her paper analyzed the various Parliamentarian press attacks against Queen Consort Henrietta Maria during the English Civil Wars (1642-1649). As Parliament wanted to challenge King Charles I, Henrietta’s husband, they chose to attack her directly as a means to indirectly attack Charles. These attacks focused on her religion and wifely position and greatly enhanced the public’s dissatisfaction with the King providing more reasons to fight him. In attacking her, they showed he was a weak husband who, in turn, was a weak king who should no longer hold power. In the end, her negative public image greatly connected to his negative public image and ultimate trial for treason in 1649. Allen will use the feedback from the panel to expand the paper for hopeful future publication in a journal. 

Allen is currently serving a four-year term as an executive councilor to the conference. She also serves as a tech chair for a Saturday panel titled “Bodies, Boundaries, and Literature.”  This panel included presentations covering the ways in which bodies are used as symbols of “the other” in British literature and music.

“It was great getting to present this year and participate in a virtual conference, despite all that is going on,” says Allen. “It is always great to meet and discuss research with fellow historians in the field. I am certain the feedback I received will prove valuable as I continue to work on my current research project for hopeful future publication.”

Athletic Training Graduate Students Present Research at National Meeting 

HPU students Madison Osbourne, Daniel Aube and Izzy Lindblade presented research posters at this year’s Virtual National Athletic Trainers’ Association Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposia.

The topics the students presented included reliability of patient rated outcome measures, how hip range of motion is related to lower extremity force production, and how self-reported ratings of exercise intensity match up with heart rate monitor measures.

“We learn so many new things in HPU’s biomechanics lab that can aid in the care of student athletes,” says Dr. Brett Pexa, assistant professor of athletic training. “I love that we can then take that information from research and present it to clinicians in these conference settings. The clinicians can then utilize and adapt our methods to their settings to create positive outcomes for their student athletes. It was incredible to see our students serve the profession while also developing the communication and dissemination skills that they will use for years to come.”

Pexa also served as keynote speaker at the annual meeting, where he addressed how to create and implement an athlete monitoring system that is user-friendly and can be applied to many different settings.