October 2006 Odyssey Grants

 Hendrix Odyssey Program
Project Funding
October 2006

This fall, 11 student and eight faculty projects were awarded Odyssey grants. More than 74 Hendrix students and faculty members will participate in projects ranging from photography to computer programming, and from teaching English in China to exploring the literature of South Africa. With this fall’s grants totaling $62,960, more than $312,000 in competitive funding has supported exciting experiential learning opportunities at Hendrix and around the world since the Odyssey Program’s launch in 2005.

Susan Alman
A Jewish Identity Project: Faces of Judaism in Arkansas
Category: Artistic Creativity
Sponsor: Prof. Maxine Payne

Susan Alman says, “I have lived in Arkansas my entire life, and I have always felt unique for one reason, because I am Jewish.” Her heritage inspired a personal odyssey to grow religiously, artistically and professionally in a project to photograph the Jewish community in Arkansas. Only 0.1% of the population of the state is Jewish, and although the largest concentration is in Little Rock, there are smaller, isolated and older congregations across the Arkansas. Alman will document individuals statewide as she explores the ties that bind all of the communities together. When the photographic collection is complete, Alman will display it both at Hendrix and at a temple or gallery.

Alman is a junior art major from Little Rock, Ark.

Caitlin Bagby
Sub-critical Aqueous Diels-Alder Reactions
Category: Undergraduate Research
Sponsor: Dr. Liz Gron

Caitlin Bagby has been working in the lab with Dr. Liz Gron, Associate Professor of Chemistry, with a focus on green chemistry--specifically in the area of organic reactions in extremely hot water. The goal of this green chemistry project is to investigate super-heated water as an effective, environmentally friendly alternative to non-renewable petrochemical solvents.  Bagby and Gron will investigate the interaction between organic reactants in the Diels-Alder coupling reaction and superheated water, which is at temperatures greater than 100 oC and pressures more than 200 times regular atmospheric pressure.   This reaction is an important in creating pharmaceuticals.  Bagby will present her research results at the national American Chemical Society spring meeting in Chicago. Bagby will have the opportunity to learn more about one of the largest professional organizations in the world as more than 12,000 scientists are expected to attend.

Bagby is a senior chemical physics major from Russellville, Ark.

Jessica Cain and Laura Hutchison
Using Archaeology to Understand Villages of the Past
Category: Special Projects
Sponsor: Dr. Rebecca Resinski

Jessica Cain and Laura Hutchison have developed a project that combines ancient history, archaeology, art history and architecture. They will compare the structure of ancient villages in Turkey, Greece, Crete and England that share similarities in size, status and population. Each location has unique and interesting characteristics, and collectively, they invite intriguing comparisons. One site on their itinerary is Colchester, the first recorded city in England that had a population of more than 10,000 under Roman rule. Many of its buildings were made of wood instead of stone or brick. Cain and Hutchison will explore the villages during their spring break from the Hendrix-in-Oxford program.

Cain is a junior history major from North Little Rock, Ark. Hutchison is a junior integrated studies major from Memphis, Tenn.

Heath DeJean
(Re) New Orleans: Spirit in the Wake of Disaster
Category: Special Projects
Sponsor: Prof. Maxine Payne

Heath DeJean, a native of the New Orleans area and a skilled photographer, will examine the spirit of his city, which is recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The main outlet for his project is photography, but he will add to the bigger portrait of New Orleans through recorded interviews with residents, audio clips of jazz music, recipe cards from family collections and news articles that will combine in a multi-media sensory experience. DeJean hopes to document the city’s spirit and show how it is aiding in the recovery. Through his project, the people of New Orleans will get to share their experiences and thoughts from the past year, personifying the heart and culture of a recovering city.

DeJean is a senior international relations and global studies major from Des Allemands, La.

Luke Erickson and Maggie McKinney
Campus Gardening
Category: Special Projects
Sponsor: Dr. Stella Capek

Where does food come from? In the past, planting and harvesting food was the most important aspect of life. Now, the relationship between our food and the system that gets it to the table is obscure. Luke Erickson and Maggie McKinney will allow Hendrix student to experience first-hand the art that goes into producing food as they plant, tend and harvest crops. They say, “We envision students working together to produce vegetables for themselves, their friends and their community.” The garden will be located behind the Public Safety building. Erickson and McKinney also plan to distribute a newsletter to campus gardeners and possibly write a monthly article for The Profile, the student newspaper.

Erickson is a sophomore from Chesterfield, Mo. McKinney is a sophomore psychology major from Dallas, Texas.

Ingrid Geisler
Artistic Development: Creating a Body of Work, Making Slides and Entering Art Competitions
Category: Artistic Creativity
Sponsor: Prof. Erik Maakestad

Artist Ingrid Geisler will enter new territory as she makes a first attempt at creating a body of work—a group of art pieces that are cohesive as a whole. She has chosen to use clay and sheet steel to create abstract organic shapes. Beginning with Masonite designs, Geisler will move on to small clay models and eventually steel to create large-scale outdoor sculptures. She hopes to create four to six pieces that will be painted in bright colors. The other aspect of the project is learning the best ways to take photographs and make slides of the work that will be entered into art competitions. The steel sculptures will be on display in the Hendrix sculpture yard of the Art Complex, and the ceramic versions will be exhibited in a campus gallery.

Geisler is a junior art major from Dallas, Texas.

Justin Haley
UV spectroscopic measurement of rocket motor efficiency vs. oxidizer flow
Category: Undergraduate Research
Sponsor: Dr. Warfield Teague

Justin Haley and Dr. Warfield Teague are true rocket scientists. A rocket can only hold a limited amount of fuel, which limits how far it can travel. However, in order to get the maximum thrust and distance, the motor must operate at maximum efficiency.  Their research in the Combustion Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has used the most up-to-date equipment to measure the efficiency of hybrid rocket motors. In March, Haley will present their findings at the prestigious National American Chemical Society meeting in Chicago.

Haley is a senior chemistry major from Louisa, Va.

Corey Hinton
La Comunidad Calma (The Quiet Community)
Category: Artistic Creativity
Sponsor: Prof. Maxine Payne

Corey Hinton admits that her Odyssey will be a challenging experience--artistically and personally. Everything that she knows as a skilled photographer will be put to the test as she immerses herself in Arkansas’ Hispanic community to create a photographic tribute to their culture.  “As a visual artist, I am drawn to the diversity of this population, their sense of community through celebrations and festivals, and the way in which they use color in their daily life,” says Hinton. She admits that positive imagery about Hispanics is often overlooked in the shadow of sociological, political and economic issues.  Hinton hopes to use photography to give the Hispanic community a voice as she documents their lives.

Hinton is a senior art major from Cookeville, Tenn.

Adam Jacobs
Conversion of ABSFIT from Fortran to Java
Category: Special Projects
Sponsor: Dr. Gabriel Ferrer

Working with Dr. Gabriel Ferrer, Adam Jacobs will get a unique historical perspective on the evolution of computer languages as he brings a program up-to-date for Dr. Warfield Teague. Dr. Teague uses a curve-fitting program called ABSFIT, which was written decades ago in Fortran, in his research to measure combustion efficiency. Fortran (an acronym derived from The IBM Mathematical Formula Translating System) was originally developed by IBM in the 1950s for scientific and engineering applications. It is seldom used for new programming, but it influenced many modern coding languages. The ABSFIT program no longer suits Dr. Teague’s research needs.  Through this conversion to the more flexible Java platform, Jacobs will be able to make much-needed improvements to the program that will benefit not only Dr. Teague but also other combustion researchers around the world who have expressed an interest in this project.

Jacobs is a sophomore from Benton.

Jack Morse
Contemporary Spanish Culture: How Judaism, Chrstianity, and Islam Interwove to Create Modern Spain
Category: Global Awareness
Sponsor: Dr. Jon Arms

In the spring, Jack Morse will study at the Universidad de Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain. This project will pick up where classes leave off as he extends his exploration of Spain beyond Barcelona. He is particularly interested in how Christian, Jewish and Muslim cultures combined over time to create contemporary Spain. The historic Spanish example of achieving a balance between these religious elements is a fascinating counterpoint to today’s worldwide terrorism and intolerance. Morse will investigate Jewish communities, cathedrals, mosques and palaces in Sevilla, Granada, and Córdoba to discover how conflicting religions meshed to form a unique culture. He will give a presentation on campus this fall to share his insights.

Morse is a junior from Mission Hills, Kan.

Paul Yin
Teaching English in Rural China
Category: Service to the World
Sponsor: Dr. Jay McDaniel

Last summer, Paul Yin spent three weeks in the rural China, where he volunteered as an English teacher through Overseas Helping Hands. In December, Yin will return to the new Bo’ Ai school, which means “Universal Love” in Chinese, and he will continue his work with the students. In the Shanxi province, near the border of Inner Mongolia, most villagers are farmers or coal miners. The only way for their children to escape a life of poverty is to get a good education and to be accepted at one of the country’s selective universities. However, the rural areas don’t have the financial resources to attract fluent English teachers. Last summer, Yin taught the students vowel sounds, and this winter he hopes to take them to the next step of combining letters sounds to read and speak English. “Teaching the students to read and speak even a little bit of English would give them the foundation they need to continue their education,” Yin says.

Yin is a freshman from Sugar Land, Texas.

Dr. Jay Barth
POLI 306: Arkansas Politics and Government Practicum
Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Students in Dr. Jay Barth’s “Politics 306 Arkansas Politics and Government Practicum” class are getting hands-on experience with the Arkansas General Assembly. Twice a week, the students head to Little Rock to interact with entities directly involved with the legislative process, including individual legislators, political party caucuses, interest groups or media outlets. With the high price of gasoline, this Odyssey Grant to help pay the students’ transportation costs will ensure that participation isn’t a financial burden. 

Dr. Keith Berry
China Odyssey III: Entrepreneurship in China
Category: Global Awareness

The Odyssey Office and the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies are teaming up for the third annual China Odyssey trip. This time, students interested in international economics and business will explore Chinese business practices and investigate how they are shaped by Chinese culture and traditions. The participants will also be looking for commonalities between American and Chinese business practices. Eight students will visit businesses in Shanghai and Beijing, including the offices of Arkansas-based corporations such as Acxiom and Tyson Foods. In the spring, the students will read Cowboys and Dragons by Dr. Charles Lee, an expert in Chinese and Western business practices who will meet with the group in Beijing. In the fall, each student will present a paper that resulted from the trip.

Dr. Patricia Bruininks
Presenting Research on the Process of Hope at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality of Social Psychology
Category: Undergraduate Research

Adrienne Crowell and Devin Howington have spent the last year working with Dr. Patricia Bruininks on understanding how hope is experienced in everyday life and over time. The students designed and implemented two studies – a diary study and a vignette study -  and analyzed the data. Now they will present their results to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology at a conference in Memphis this January. It is rare for undergraduates to present at this conference, and Crowell and Howington have the additional distinction of being first authors on their presentation.

Crowell is a senor psychology major from Conway, Ark. Howington is a senior psychology major and English minor from Lepanto, Ark.

Prof. Brigitte Brumbelow
American College Dance Festival
Category: Artistic Creativity

For the second year, members of the Hendrix Dance Ensemble will participate in the prestigious American College Dance Festival, which will be held at Friends University in Wichita, Kan. The festival emphasizes the importance of dance in higher education and provides a wide assortment of classes, lectures and performances by leading experts. The 11 students will collaborate with Prof. Brigitte Brumbelow to create a modern dance piece that will be performed and adjudicated at the festival. The Dance Ensemble will be judged on the performance, choreography, costume design, lighting and music selection. The piece will be presented during the Spring Dance Concert on campus in April.

Dr. Anne Goldberg
An Ethnography of Conway Education: Understanding the Stakes and Stakeholders of a Hendrix-based Charter School
Category: Undergraduate Research

Sarah Hughes and Dr. Anne Goldberg plan to investigate the social and cultural aspects of education in Conway, particularly in connection to the proposed charter school in Hendrix’s Academic Village development. The charter school is intended to serve minority and low-income students in Conway, and this collaborative project will help by facilitating outreach to those constituencies and identifying others. Ethnographic background work, such as library research, classroom observation and in-depth interviews, can be beneficial before community meetings and help pave the way to a cooperative relationship. Dr. Goldberg hopes to co-author an article with Hughes on the project for Practicing Anthropology, a peer-reviewed journal for applied anthropology.

Dr. James Jennings
Above the Line Project: A Summer Enrichment Project in the Arkansas Delta
Category: Service to the World

The educational future of Forrest City, located in eastern Arkansas, could change dramatically with the successful implementation of Dr. James Jennings’ “Above the Line Project.” This title is based on the demographic patterns in Arkansas. If a diagonal line is drawn from Blytheville in the northeast corner of the state to Texarkana in the southwest, the highest concentrations of poverty and academic failure are located “below the line.” Dr. Jennings says, “I started the ‘Above the Line Project’ as a means of moving these students, and their schools, ‘above the line’ –on paper.” The project has three goals. Working with 30-50 low-achieving/low-income third grade children, he and his Hendrix student colleagues hope to increase their academic skills. They also aim to improve parental attitudes toward education by providing support skills. Finally, the project will focus on the children’s social skills and cultural enrichment. The student colleagues will have primary responsibility in designing all facets of the curriculum, conducting orientation and focus group discussion, and assessing the project. The primary colleagues are Adrienne Dawson and Nathan Thomas. The secondary colleagues are Kristy Chambers, Rachel Johnson and Terricka Thomas.

Dr. Lawrence Schmidt
Presentation of undergraduate research at Undergraduate Philosophy Conferences
Category: Undergraduate Research

Students in the Philosophy 497 Senior Thesis class will have the chance to present their research at undergraduate philosophy conferences across the nation. This spring, the Philosophy Department hopes to have student papers accepted at prestigious events such as the Mid-South Undergraduate Conference in Memphis, Tenn.; the Pacific University Undergraduate Conference in Forest Grove, Ore.; and the Northeast Florida Student Philosophy Conference in Jacksonville, Fla.

Dr. Carol West and Dr. Allison Shutt
South African Literature and Land
Category: Undergraduate Research

You get a feel for a foreign country’s writers, literature, films and history when you experience its geography and culture first-hand. Ten Hendrix students will have this opportunity in May when Dr. Carol West and Dr. Allison Shutt accompany them on an exploration of South Africa. The participants will be selected from two spring courses: “African Film,” taught by Dr. West, and “The History of Southern Africa,” taught by Dr. Shutt. The group will visit sites in Cape Town including Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. A journey across South Africa will culminate in Johannesburg and Soweto, where the group will visit the Apartheid Museum. Each student will write a research paper and discuss it in a roundtable session on campus in the fall. This project is co-sponsored by the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language.