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October 2013 Odyssey Grants Announced

CONWAY, Ark. (November 15, 2013) – From salamanders to soccer and medicine to masks, Hendrix students and faculty will travel the world serving others, conducting research, and exploring their interests, thanks to $67,738.25 in Odyssey grants.

The Committee on Engaged Learning (CEL) awarded Odyssey grants to 21 faculty and student projects in the October 2013 cycle. 

The grand total for funding since the Odyssey Program’s inception in 2005 is $2.485 million.

The grant recipients from the October 2013 Odyssey grant cycle are:

CeCe Collins ‘15 and Lucas Tenbrook ‘15

Promoting Food Sovereignty Through Sustainable Farming

Category: Global Awareness

CeCe Collins ’15 and Lucas Tenbrook ’15 will travel to Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua, to work with Project Bona Fide. The organization promotes organic farming, reforestation and fair trade markets and other projects to provide a sustainable lifestyle. “Many communities in Nicaragua have the land and labor available to provide cheaper, fresher and more nutritious food locally, but they lack the knowledge, education, and support about why this would actually be a better option for them,” they said. An added bonus is experiencing the sustainability movement of another culture and comparing it with the United States.

Robert Durante ’15 and Scarlet Smith ’15

True Face: Exploring the Mask

Category: Artistic Creativity

“During the Italian Renaissance, masks were an integral element of the theatrical style known as Commedia Dell’ Arte,” said Robert Durante and Scarlet Smith. For their project, they will each make three masks. After researching historical styles and techniques, they will make a leather mask in the original theatrical way. Next they will fashion masks based on an exploration of their own personal styles and abilities. Last, they will create abstract thematic masks, realizations from their own imaginations. They will offer a brief performance on campus to bring their masks to life.

Laura Gressler ’15

Healthcare in Zimbabwe

Category: Special Projects

Laura Gressler would like to work with Doctors without Borders after she graduates from medical school. The organization provides medical aid to regions of the world where people do not have access to treatment. To understand how medicine differs in other countries, she will volunteer at Mpilo Hospital in Zimbabwe. She will work with Dr. Alexander von Paleske, a German oncologist. “I will explore what it is like to work in a hospital in a location that faces many different challenges and does not have access to as many resources as American hospitals,” Gressler said.


Eva Harpst ’14, Saranya Prathibha ’14 and Neelam Vyas ’14

Embracing Amma: A Journey of Self-Discovery through Spiritual, Vocational and Academic Growth

Category: Special Projects

This winter Eva Harpst, Saranya Prathibha and Neelam Vyas will travel to the ashram established by Amma, a spritual leader and guru, in Amritapuri, India. “In the ashram community, members share a wealth of intellectual and spiritual lessons that we would attend and contribute to on a daily basis,” they said. Living in the ashram and interacting with Amma will be conducive to their spritiual, academic and vocational growth as they learn more about philosophy, religion, culture, health, service, meditation and gender roles.


Kacey Hight ’15

Serving through Soccer: Volunteering and Leadership in Escuintla, Guatemala

Category: Special Projects

Coach Jim Evans and Hendrix soccer players Kacey Hight, Emma Paul, Laurie Waters, Gregory Gandy, Alex Cummings, Eric Bracy and Nicole Rodriguez will travel to the rural town of La Democracia in Escuintla, Guatemala, during spring break. They will paint and repair Las Flores Elementary School, and each day they will host a soccer camp for local children. Each child will receive a nutritious food care package to take home daily. The team members will use their expertise in soccer as they interact with the local youth, learn the significance of service to the world, and broaden their cultural awareness.

Kris Nickel ’14

What is Art?

Special Projects 

Kris Nickel will explore the concept of art in London, particularly whether graffiti in a public space is considered a form of art. An important aspect of her project is researching the contemporary culture in England before she travels. “To develop my understanding of the culture more, I will be collecting information the entire time while in London, which will include graffiti specific research conducted through a tour and study of graffiti areas,” Nickel said.

Kristen O'Connell ’15

Effects of prenatal steroids on the fatigue properties of breathing muscles

Category: Undergraduate Research

Kristen O’Connell will travel to the 2014 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology conference in Austin, Texas, to present biochemical research. “This experience is invaluable to me because it will improve my public speaking skills as well as my ability to present scientific research in a logical, concise manner that others can easily understand,” O’Connell said.

Leala Rosen ’14 and Rachel Head ’14

Food Aid in Nicaragua

Category: Special Projects

Leala Rosen and Rachel Head will volunteer with the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD), a non-profit that focuses on food security. “Through CEPAD, we would work directly with small farmers in Nicaragua, learning about the ways they handle food insecurity through sustainable agricultural techniques and crop diversity,” they said. By living with a host family, they will also see the impact of food insecurity’s effect in the community.

Tyler Webb ’14

Intersections: A Look at Science and Its Relation to Ethics

Category: Special Projects

Tyler Webb’s project has the goal of getting science students to discuss ethics and how ethical codes relate to science. “I feel that being a good scientist necessitates understanding why we do what we do and how our actions affect the scientific community and world at large,” Webb said. He will focus on students in physics, biology, chemistry, computer science and psychology. In their discussion series, participants will read texts, case studies and articles from both ethics and science.

Tyler Webb ’14

Electromagnetic Radiative Corrections on the Queak Experiment

Category: Undergraduate Research

Tyler Webb has been working with Dr. Damon Spayde on a research project that he will present at the 2014 meeting of the American Physical Society in Savannah, Ga. “My project is part of a multi-institutional collaboration; I can display that Hendrix professors and students are taking part in large-scale, important scientific endeavors,” Webb said.

Kaitlyn Zamzow ’15

Researching to Determine if Salamanders Native to Arkansas have been Exposed to Chytrid Fungus

Category: Undergraduate Research

The Chytrid fungus causes the skin of affected amphibians to thicken. “This is a major concern because amphibians absorb many essential nutrients through their skin,” said Kaitlyn Zamzow. Nutrient deficiencies can cause the death of the animal. She will conduct research in the Ouachita Mountain region of Arkansas to see if native salamander populations show signs of Chytrid fungus by collecting swab samples and sending them off for diagnostic testing. She hopes that her results can help prepare conservation efforts to protect salamanders from the effects of the fungus.

Rachel Zweig ’15 (Recipient of the Professor Stephen Kerr Odyssey Endowment)

Business Plan Competition

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Students who participate in business plan competitions learn what is required to launch a knowledge-based, high-growth company and how to obtain funding for their business. Rachel Zweig is interested in entrepreneurship along with science and technology, and she is formulating a business combining these areas for automated tissue sampling technology for pathology labs. “Writing the business plan will require much group work, often in the context of quick deadlines and stress, which will help me to learn how to work effectively and efficiently with others,” she said.

Prof. Rynnett Clark

Student Teaching Fuel Supplement

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Rising fuel costs have placed a burden on student teachers who must commute for their placements. Travel is often required both out of necessity and also in order that our student teachers may experience different communities and school situations. The Odyssey grant will help defray some of senior Kathryn Armstrong’s mileage expenses.

Prof. Cheri Prough DeVol and Dr. Connie Campbell

Student Participation at the 2014 USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology) Conference and Stage Expo

Category: Special Projects

Prof. Cheri DeVol and Dr. Constance Campbell will take twelve students to the United States Institute for Theatre Technology Conference and Stage Expo in March. They will attend seminars and presentations by innovators in theatrical design and technology. The students will also have the opportunity to submit costume, scenery, and lighting designs for adjudication.


Prof. Melissa Gill

SGC International Conference

Category: Special Projects

Prof. Melissa Gill and six printmaking students will attend the Southern Graphics Council (SGC) International Conference in San Francisco this March. They will attend lectures, discussion panels, technical demonstrations, and exhibits. At the SGC Student Open Portfolio session, they will present their creative work to the public.

Dr. Liz Gron

Chemistry Department Student Travel to American Chemical Society Spring National Meeting to Present Research

Category: Undergraduate Research

Michael Tarne ’14, Aline Umuhire-Juru ’15, Robert Nshimiyimana ’15, and Robert Rurangwa ’15 will present the results of their research at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in March. The students will see their results in context of the greater society of chemical scholars, see cutting-edge chemical results presented, and become better acquainted with the aspects of being a professional chemist.

Dr. Maureen McClung and Dr. Matt Moran

Land Use Impact From Gas Development in the Fayetteville Shale

Category: Undergraduate Research

Brandon Cox ’16 and Rachel Wells ’15 will work with Dr. Maureen McClung and Dr. Matt Moran to research land use changes from natural gas drilling. They will assess the amount of land devoted to forest, pasture, buildings, and roads before Fayetteville Shale activity began in the state with the present conditions now that drilling has slowed.

Prof. Maxine Payne

Society for Photographic Education, 51st Annual Conference Attendance

Category: Special Projects

Prof. Maxine Payne will take 11 student members to the Society for Photographic Education Conference. The theme this year is “Collaborative Exchanges: Photography in Dialogue” to encourage forging relationships with other artists, writers, and communities to create hybrid ideas. Each student will take a portfolio of at least 15 prints to show at the conference and will serve as an official volunteer.

Dr. Damon Spayde

Travel to 2014 April Meeting of the American Physical Society

Category: Undergraduate Research

This grant will allow Dr. Damon Spayde to accompany physics students to present research at the American Physical Society meeting in Savannah, Ga., in April. He will supervise, mentor and assist the students at the conference.

Dr. Jose Vilahomat and Prof. Irmina Fabricio

Aspects of Nicaraguan Health System: Kidney Transplantation, Past and Present

Category: Special Projects

Sarah Eddington ’15, Zack Hausle ’14, Youmna Moufarej ’14, Victoria Resendez ’15, Ples Spradley ’14 and Anne Vogt ’15 will go on a six-day exploration of Nicaragua with Dr. Jose Vilahomat and Prof. Irmina Fabricio. The students will immerse themselves in the language, geography and culture of the country while interacting with skilled medical professionals who will provide insight into Nicaragua’s healthcare system, the history of kidney transplantation in the country.

Dr. Ann Wright

Women in Physics Conference

Category: Special Projects

Dr. Ann Wright and Dr. Amalia Anderson will take a group of female students to the Undergraduate Women in Physics Conference at Louisiana State University in January. They will explore career opportunities for physicists, tour national labs, attend research presentations and discussion panels and network with others in the field.

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit