HIGH POINT, N.C., May 26, 2021 – 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.
Pharmacy Student Margaret Deming Receives Jim Brown Award
Margaret Deming, a fourth-year student in HPU’s Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy, received the Jim Brown Award for best poster when she recently presented research at the North Carolina branch of the American Society of Microbiology’s annual meeting. Deming presented collaborative research on a new antimicrobial with promising activity against resistant bacteria.
“There were many incredible presentations and posters during the virtual event,” said Deming. “It is exciting to see what is going on in the field of microbiology and to be able to be a part of it.”
HPU Professor and Student Publish Research in The Plant Journal
Dr. Andrew Wommack, associate professor of chemistry, and recent HPU graduate Juliana O’Brien have published research in The Plant Journal as part of a National Science Foundation grant in the amount of $418,000 previously secured to study reactions in plants.
O’Brien, a member of HPU’s Class of 2020, helped determine the success of this project by synthesizing and purifying more than 30 peptides involved in photosynthesis, glycolysis, protein folding and antioxidant defense.
“This work is a significant step in determining the molecular signaling events that plants use when they’re confronted with external stresses,” said Wommack. “This fundamental study has potential applications in aiding increased crop production. Using chemical synthesis and analytical chemistry, we helped to determine a set of proteins that are impacted during plant stress responses.”
Wommack secured the NSF grant in collaboration with Dr. Leslie Hicks, associate professor of chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Dr. Sorina Popescu, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Mississippi State University.
Biology Students’ Research Published in Frontiers in Genetics
Six High Point University students had their research, titled “Using the Cancer Genome Atlas as an Inquiry Tool in the Undergraduate Classroom,” published in Frontiers in Genetics.
Mackenzie Crow, Whitney Dow, Austin Kratz, Ashley Robinson, Meaghan Robinson and Nick Zanghi, under the direction of their Cancer Biology professor Dr. Verónica A. Segarra, used The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) as an inquiry tool to evaluate human clinical outcomes. Using the TCGA tool, students were able to use real patient data to determine the relationships between molecular cancer characteristics and patient health outcomes. Their study developed and tested learning modules using TCGA to engage students in medically relevant inquiry, which ultimately connects to their career aspirations in the health sciences and research.
HPU Biology Professor Contributes to Textbook
Dr. Jackson Sparks, assistant professor of biology, recently contributed a chapter to the textbook “Insect Pheromone Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (second edition).” The chapter, titled Reflections on antennal proteins: the evolution of pheromone binding proteins; diversity of pheromone degrading enzymes; and the distribution and behavioral roles of SNMPs, reviews proteins involved in the detection of odorants by insects. It discusses the origins, evolution and uniqueness of the genes insects use to sense their external world and evaluate these genes as potential targets for insect control.
“I am proud to help advance our understanding of insect biology,” said Sparks. “This work puts us one step closer to curbing the spread of insect-borne pathogens. HPU students are following up on this chapter by conducting behavioral experiments in the insectary inside the Wanek School of Natural Sciences.”
HPU Professor Spoke at Virtual Annual Meeting
Dr. Verónica A. Segarra, interim chair of the biology department, spoke at the 2021 virtual annual meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists (ASB). Segarra served on a panel that included faculty and industry leaders. The panel discussion on diversity and inclusion informed and provided thought leadership to help address some of those issues in the biology and the natural sciences disciplines.
Panelists from diverse backgrounds discussed how diverse students can be successful in the biological sciences. They also shared the value of diversity and inclusion in academia and insights as to how panelists have excelled in their field of study.
“This was a completely unexpected honor to be invited to join these prominent scholars as part of the ASB meeting plenary,” said Segarra. “I find this very exciting, and it demonstrates I am considered a thought leader in this area.”