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Hendrix Odyssey Program Project Funding, April 2021 Cycle

CONWAY, Ark. (May 12, 2021) – The Hendrix Odyssey Program has awarded 16 projects a total of $55,981 in grants for the April 2021 funding cycle. Hendrix College students will benefit from this funding by exploring potential career paths, developing their research skills and interests, and sharing what they have learned through presenting their research in various public settings. Since 2005, the Committee on Engaged Learning at Hendrix College has awarded $4,565,940.71 in competitive Odyssey grants to support 1,434 projects by students and faculty.

The recipients of awards in the April 2021 funding cycle are:

Gaëlle Agahozo

Assistant Teacher and project manager

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Supervisor: Dr. Gabriel Ferrer, Math and Computer Science

This summer, Gaëlle Agahozo will work with Zetalight Company, a tech company based in Rwanda. Zetalight helps students get hands-on experience in building software. Agahozo will spend 12 weeks learning programming and writing software, building on the experience she gained last year as a member of the first cohort of Zetalight students. Additionally, Agahozo will develop her leadership skills as she mentors new students who have joined the team.


Becca Biggin

Nutrition and Healthcare Education in Indonesia

Category: Service to the World

Supervisor: Dr. J.D. Gantz, Biology

This summer, Becca Biggin will volunteer in the city of Ubud in Bali. Despite Indonesia’s status as a middle-income country, the children face the double burden of malnutrition where under- and over-nutrition coexist—two million children under the age of five suffer from severe acute malnutrition and 20 percent of primary school-aged children face obesity. Biggin will be working with a well-established local organization, Green Lion Bali, that provides health-related education and free healthcare services. The goal of this program is to prevent the spread of easily communicable diseases prevalent in Bali and to combat health issues that could be easily avoided through a well-balanced diet. Biggin will assist with the education aspect of this program by implementing classes in various communities and schools around Ubud about the importance of nutrition and healthy eating.


Dave Camp

Faulkner County Museum internship

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Supervisor: Dr. Deborah Skok, History

As a history major, Dave Camp has become concerned with a growing amount of historical illiteracy in American society, including local and national history. Although he can’t change historical literacy on a national level, Camp realized that he could improve his local community. He will work with the Faulkner County Museum to sort, archive and catalog a massive backlog of artifacts that have been donated to the museum. Eventually, these items will go on display as part of the museum’s collection.


Phineas Chapman

Internship with Chief Education Officer of Little Rock

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Supervisor: Dr. Delphia Shanks, Politics

A community school is a relatively new model of public school in the United States that offers services ranging from classes for parents and members of the community in topics like health and nutrition or financial literacy, to after-school or weekend programs for students. Little Rock has been a part of this growing movement, and currently has four community schools. This summer, Phineas Chapman will intern with Dr. Jay Barth, who is the Chief Education Officer for the city. He will focus on the four existing community schools to help develop future after-school programs. He will analyze survey information from community school families, communicate with parents and students to understand what areas of interest exist, design programs in line with those interests, secure funding through grant writing or other means, and plan for implementation.


Anna Claire Franklin

Pastoral Care Internship at Methodist Family Health in Little Rock

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Supervisor: Dr. Jennifer Penner, Psychology

Anna Claire Franklin will explore the intersection between spirituality and mental health maintenance as an intern in the pastoral care office at Methodist Family Health (MFH). The facility provides care for aspects of mental health rehabilitation and maintenance from acute psychiatric care to outpatient counseling. MFH treats clients using the teaching-family model, a trauma-informed framework centered around building clients’ independence, individualized treatment interventions, and empirically verified behavioral modification techniques. Because the facility has a diverse client base, Franklin will have the opportunity to explore the marriage between faith and mental health. She will also consider the ways in which she feels called to serve others, helping her foster her own unique style of interacting with clients in a spiritual context.


Grace Holmquest

Primate Care Internship at The Lincoln Children’s Zoo

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Supervisor: Dr. Maureen McClung, Biology

The Lincoln Children’s Zoo is an Association of Zoos & Aquariums-accredited facility and participates in the association’s Species Survival Plan. The Species Survival Plan oversees the management of select species with the mission of enhancing conservation in the wild. Animals in the program include the cotton-top tamarin, spider monkey, and ring-tailed lemur; all of which are New World monkeys in the Lincoln Children’s Zoo primate department. This summer, Grace Holmquest will be a primate intern in the Animal Department at the zoo. She will gain valuable knowledge and practical skills while working firsthand with animals and their professional caretakers. This internship will allow Holmquest to contribute to conservation efforts as well as explore animal husbandry as a future career.


Sophia Isely

Medical Spanish in Ecuador

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Supervisor: Dr. José Vilahomat, Languages

This summer, Sophia Isely will combine her interests in the Spanish language, medicine, and inclusive healthcare. She will participate in the Cacha Medical Spanish Institute’s (Cachamsi) Medical Spanish Program in Riobamba, Ecuador. During the experience, she will spend 30 hours a week directly shadowing physicians while also attending a daily Medical Spanish course provided and taught by Cachamsi. Isely notes that approximately 13% of Americans are native Spanish speakers, and she believes that this community deserves inclusive and communicative healthcare. She intends to be part of a new generation of physicians with a direct goal of catering to these populations.


Raven Johnson

Hot Springs Urban Planning Internship

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Supervisor: Dr. Delphia Shanks, Politics

Raven Johnson will lead the way as the first intern in the Planning and Economic Development Department of Hot Springs. The city is currently working on a complex economic development program called Forward Hot Springs. The plan is comprehensive and provides many avenues for community engagement in the development of the city. Because Johnson hopes to become a city planner, this internship will introduce her to a wide variety of new ideas, tools, and information. She will learn critical skills that will be applicable in any city planning career that she takes on in the future—and especially for any city in Arkansas—because they all use similar platforms and programs.


Kenzie MacNicol

Summer Lab Experience Opportunity

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Supervisor: Dr. Julie Gunderson, Physics

This summer, Kenzie MacNicol will work with Dr. Angela Odle and her lab in the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Dr. Odle recently received a pilot grant from UAMS to study the role of leptin in the maturation of the reproductive system, especially with regard to the effect of obesity on fertility rates (as both are on the rise in the United States). The hypothalamus in the brain, the pituitary glands, and the gonadal glands often act together in the development and regulation reproductive and immune systems, so they are consequently grouped together as the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Leptin is a small protein hormone that stimulates cells in all three levels of the HPG axis when circulating at normal, non-obese concentrations. More specifically, one function of leptin in balanced amounts is to signal surge-level gonadotropin secretion, which enables fertility in mammals. Another is to regulate the expression of GnRH in gonadotrophs, cells in the pituitary gland of the brain that secrete hormones relating to the gonads and other reproductive elements. MacNicol will work on calcium imaging of the pituitaries and digital reconstruction of the structure, using MATLAB and imaging and bioinformatic programs. In addition to learning specialized techniques, this project will allow MacNicol to develop his professional research and communication skills as well as give him a chance to evaluate institutional research as a prospective career.


Verity Miller

Summer Internship at the Go Store

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Supervisor: Dr. Toni Jaudon, English

Service is important for Verity Miller, and in her summer internship she will explore how service and commerce can blend together. Miller will work at the Go Store in Conway, which is a mission-based thrift store that helps to raise funds for Samaritan’s Purse. She hopes to learn how a mission-based store is run, promoted, and organized compared to a traditional store. Miller is interested in a future career helping others, and she sees this as an opportunity to gain experience and explore whether the combination of mission and commerce is a viable career path.


Gaston Niyitegeka

Business Classes Outside Hendrix Walls

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Supervisor: Dr. Megan Leonard, Economics and Business

This fall, Gaston Niyitegeka will use skills he learned in his Corporate Finance and Macroeconomics classes in an internship with Phronesis Group Consulting. The organization is committed to helping people, businesses, and communities by providing solutions to their business needs and financial planning services. His work will involve consulting, advising, and creating programs to fill the gaps between actual situations and desired ones in the business world. He hopes to raise the company’s customer base and market segment through his time at Phronesis Group Consulting. Exposure to financial projection, market research analysis, community development, and business development will give him a well-rounded understanding of business operations, scalability, and management.


Kashti Shah

NO Reduction by the Bacterial Enzyme, YtfE

Category: Undergraduate Research

Supervisor: Dr. Bill Gunderson, Chemistry

Kashti Shah will work closely with Dr. Bill Gunderson over the course of the summer on a project studying the mechanism and structure of the bacterial enzyme YtfE. YtfE serves two functions: 1) protect bacteria from damage and 2) repair damage to the cell. Shah will learn lab techniques required for the project, master the process of collecting and interpreting background research, communicate important information regarding the project and background information, and collaborate with researchers at University of Alabama and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to obtain necessary data. After obtaining this data, she will analyze the data and determine the significance of it. Results obtained from these studies will further understanding of how the bacterial enzyme functions.


Dustin Williams

Scales of Justice

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

Supervisor: Dr. Kim Maslin, Politics

Dustin Williams, who plans to attend law school after graduation, will have a chance to see the inner workings of the City Attorney’s Office in Conway. The City Attorney’s Office deals with the local criminal court, but it also has a close relationship with the mayor and other important organizations that make important and high-level decisions. From working on land and property law for the city of Conway to dealing with child custody cases, Williams will be immersed in many different fields for his future legal career, and he will use skills on reading cases and writing about them from his classwork at Hendrix. 


Dr. Julie Gunderson

Arkansas Department of Agriculture Data Analytics Internship

Category: Professional and Leadership Development


Sammy Gaskins will work remotely as an intern at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture during the summer of 2021 in this project coordinated by Dr. Julie Gunderson. Gaskins will develop both data analytics skills and digital literacy skills through the development and publication of Weekly, Monthly, and Annual Market Reports and a Food and Agribusiness Webinar Series. For these projects, the student will be involved in the development and management of hardware and software as well as the online marketing of these products. He will work directly under Dr. Robert Coats, Economist at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. Gaskins will manage the editing, rendering, and posting of webinars to YouTube as well as the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s website.


Dr. Latorya D. Hicks

Synthesis of Chalcones with N-substituted Sulfonamide Moieties and their Biological Properties

Category: Undergraduate Research

Chalcones are plant-derived compounds with a wide range of biological activities. The laboratory of Dr. Latorya D. Hicks is utilizing organic chemistry to synthesize novel compounds which harness the anti-microbial and anti-diabetic properties of chalcones.  This fall, under the tutelage of Dr. Hicks, Dane Richards will begin a research project synthesizing chalcones with sulfonamide moieties aimed to develop new drugs for treatment of microbial infections or diabetes. 


Dr. Lindsay Kennedy and Dr. Jennifer Peszka

Research Assistantship: Analyzing the Relationship Between Sleep, Dreams, Media Consumption, and Well-Being During COVID-19

Category: Professional and Leadership Development

This summer, students Mary Dann Betbeze, Maddie Franke, Cassandra McLaughlan, and Noura Musallam will work with professors from Hendrix and UCA to code and analyze data from a COVID-related research project, collected in the spring of 2020. They hope to explore the interrelationships between sleep, dream content, media consumption, and well-being during the early stages of COVID-related social distancing. The students will content-code dream journals, conduct in-depth literature reviews, and learn and perform advanced statistical analyses on the data. Students will then contribute to the writing of multiple manuscripts summarizing the findings that will be submitted for publication.


About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit