HPU Students Present Weeks-Long Summer Research

Jul 30th, 2021

HPU Students Present Weeks-Long Summer Research

High Point University students wrapped up their summer research in SuRI (Summer Research Institute) with the Elevator Pitch event. It’s a speed dating-style event that helps the students explain why their research matters and how to articulate it to someone outside of their field.


HIGH POINT, N.C., July 30, 2021 – High Point University has been buzzing with creativity and innovation this summer as students and faculty conduct research on a variety of topics. On July 29, students wrapped up their weeks-long projects with culminating events in HPU’s summer research programs.

“I am thankful for HPU’s commitment to undergraduate research and providing resources for in-depth faculty-student research and mentoring opportunities,” says Dr. Amanda Allen, professor of history who mentored two students this summer. “Such experience will serve students well as they move onto graduate school and the career world.”

Students who took part in SuRI (Summer Research Institute) participated in a concluding Elevator Pitch event Thursday. The event included 90 second, one-on-one conversations between students and staff members from across campus. The event allowed students to practice articulating and explaining why their research matters to people outside of their respective fields. Each student received feedback based on their pitch.

“If you can make your pitch applicable and explain why your research is important, that is the goal,” says senior Allison Tucker, a neuroscience major from Charleston, West Virginia. “Talking about your work is something you need to be ready for in an interview. It’s an amazing skill.”

Research in SuRI this summer included topics from majors in biology, math, psychology, exercise science, history, gaming, education and communication. Tucker worked with Dr. Aurijit Sarkar in the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy. He and three students worked on finding ways to target bacterial pathogens to fight off superbugs that are resistant to medicine.

Max Beck, a senior majoring in psychology, conducted a survey looking at racial disparities in health care. The rising senior says the elevator pitch helped prepare him to speak in front of a panel in graduate school.

“The major takeaways from this were that it is important to be passionate about what you do in life because any of us could’ve memorized our pitches and just restated what we had on paper,” says Beck, from Oak Ridge, North Carolina. “But I learned it’s more beneficial to be so immersed in the work that you can talk about it casually with peers and have it be organic rather than rehearsed.”

Dr. Joanne Altman, director of HPU’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Works program, led students in the SuRI program this summer to pitch their research projects.

“Students do not just practice an elevator pitch,” says Dr. Altman. “Pitching in a speed dating-style format encourages the students to gauge the reaction of each person they talk to and adjust and adapt their message. After all, this is what employers are looking for – flexibility, adaptability, and the ability to communicate effectively with a diverse group of people.”

Students in SuRPs (Summer Research Program in the Sciences) also concluded their research by presenting their projects on the impressive dome of the Culp Planetarium in the Wanek School of Natural Sciences, and on posters throughout the lobby. Their research ranged from studying star systems in a project funded by NASA, to testing different combinations of drugs on bacteria growth and reproducing different minute films of certain polymers.

As part of the event, Hailey Parry, a class of 2017 graduate who recently earned her Ph.D. in chemistry, returned to campus to share her experiences and advice with students. Parry’s speech was titled, “Key to Success – A Note to Future Graduates.”

“It was quite humbling and an honor to be able to speak at HPU and to be recognized as one of the highly successful graduates,” said Parry, a post-doctoral researcher at the National Institutes of Health. “It was awesome to see the growth of the university, my professors who have become friends and to be able to provide pieces of advice. I think what it comes down to is you want to be able to pass on knowledge.”