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Two Hendrix Seniors Receive Watson Fellowship

CONWAY, Ark. (March 14, 2014) – Hendrix seniors Alison Harrington and McKenna Raney were awarded the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.

Harrington, a biology major from New Orleans, La., will pursue her project titled “Partnering with Fungi to Improve the Human Landscape through Transformative Decomposition,” and travel to Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa, Namibia, Ecuador and Costa Rica.

“In the midst of a global waste crisis, I propose to explore the potential of fungi to solve global problems,” she writes. Working with the people who study and use fungus, I hope to understand the basis for cultural dispositions towards fungi and the decomposition they represent. I aim to study the paradoxical application of transformative decay towards constructive ends while promoting mutualism between humans and fungi.”

Raney, a sociology and anthropology major from Oxford, Miss., will pursue her project titled “Uncovering Emotional Connections in Human-Equine Partnerships,” and travel to Argentina, France, Iceland, Ireland, South Africa, Kyrgyzstan and Australia.

“I will explore the relationships of humans and horses through farming, ranching, therapy, and sports worldwide,” she writes. “I will work to discover how relationship, discipline, and culture affect a working partnership between horse and human. My specific objectives are to understand different lived experiences, to identify broader cultural implications, and discover if others' identities are contingent on their relationship with horses. To achieve these goals, I will shadow equine workers, work alongside them, stay in their homes, and conduct informal snowball interviews with members of cross-cultural groups who work with horses daily.”

“This year, from over 700 candidates, 150 finalists were nominated to compete on the national level from which 43 fellows were selected,” wrote Chris Kasabach, director of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation. “Our 2014 class of TJW fellows comes from 21 states and six countries and exhibits a broad range of academic specialty, socio-economic background and life experience. As the 46th class of Watson Fellows, they’ll traverse 81 countries exploring topics ranging from global hacking to poetry; from adaptive theater to decomposition; from body part commodification to butterfly ranching; from climate change to community radio.”

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