Students Present Impressive Summer Research

Aug 02nd, 2022

Students Present Impressive Summer Research

HPU student Ethan Muckerheide discusses research on self-criticism and anger during the Summer Research Institute elevator pitch finale on July 28.


HIGH POINT, N.C., Aug. 2, 2022 – Students and faculty at High Point University are wrapping up weeks-long research on a variety of topics. On July 28, students completed their weeks-long projects with culminating events in HPU’s summer research programs.

Students who took part in SuRI (Summer Research Institute) participated in a concluding Elevator Pitch event. The event included 90-second, one-on-one conversations between students and faculty or 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, which included the natural sciences, gaming, psychology, criminal justice, pharmacy and communication. Each student received feedback based on their pitch.

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High Point University students make 90-second pitches to faculty or staff members in a speed dating-style format to explain why their research matters during the Summer Research Institute final event.

“This is a great way to develop your skills and set yourself apart from the crowd, whether you’re applying to medical school or another graduate program,” said Garrett Alewine, a senior biology major from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dr. Joanne Altman, director of HPU’s Undergraduate Research Center and Creative Works, led students through the speed dating-style format.

“This is a one-and-a-half-minute elevator pitch that is designed to grab somebody’s attention,” says Altman. “One of the unique things about SuRI is that it’s interdisciplinary. One of their projects this summer was for students to get together with students not in their field, where each person brought a different skill set to the table.”

“This summer research is critical for our students because it’s giving them an opportunity to not only identify problems but to provide solutions,” says Dr. Doug Hall, HPU vice president of the Office of Career and Professional Development. “As I listen to our students, I think about other skills they have built here as far as enhancing their curiosity, being able to ask hard questions and look at other angles and perspectives they didn’t consider before.”

Summer Research Programs in the Sciences (SuRPS)

Students in the Summer Research Program in the Sciences (SuRPS) presented their research in the Wanek School of Natural Sciences’ lobby and the impressive Culp Planetarium. Students in this summer program tested research in the fields of biology, physics, chemistry and more. Their research included testing natural compounds on human cervical and breast cancer cells, synthetically constructing natural products from botanical sources and engineering artificial cilia structures that have the potential to serve as antibacterial or antifouling surfaces.

“Part of their training is how to think like a scientist,” says Dr. Brian Augustine, chemistry professor and interim dean of the Wanek School of Natural Sciences. “It’s how to problem-solve, take a set of conditions you don’t know the answer to, and your professor doesn’t know the answer to, and logically reason through. For a lot of students, this experience ends up being the light bulb that turns on for them to see themselves doing this as a career.”

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HPU student Tristan Kaz explains his chemistry research using a poster display as part of the Summer Research Program in the Sciences’ final research symposium.

“With this I get to branch out into more things,” says Jenna Mastropolo, a sophomore from Hamilton, New Jersey, who came to HPU as a chemistry major and added physics. “Now I’m interested in biophysics, astronomy and law. Not many students can say they’ve done undergraduate research as a rising sophomore. It’s a great opportunity.”

Her professor Dr. Briana Fiser said SuRPS allows students creativity in problem-solving but also independence on a project that builds self-confidence.

“They get to explore something they are interested in and see science is more than sitting in a classroom and learning from a lecturer or textbook,” says Fiser. “Hands-on experience helps them develop as a person and figure out what they want their future career paths to look like.”

During the event, Elizabeth Reardon, a Class of 2017 biology graduate who participated in the first SuRPS, returned to campus to deliver the keynote speech.

“SuRPS provided me a strong introduction to the research process and led me to later have opportunities to participate in external REUs,” said Reardon, a clinical study manager for Emmes Company, LLC in Washington, D.C. “The close mentorship and implementation of problem-solving in a research setting have continued to help me throughout my time with the Peace Corps, and in my current field of work in clinical research.”