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Hendrix Odyssey Program Project Funding for the February 2021 Cycle

CONWAY, Ark. (March 18, 2021) — The Hendrix College Committee on Engaged Learning is pleased to announce the recipients of Odyssey grants for the February 2021 cycle. 

Since 2005, the Committee on Engaged Learning has awarded $4,509,959.71 in competitive Odyssey grants to support projects by Hendrix students and faculty. In this cycle, 13 projects received $60,282 in grants. The Odyssey Office is looking forward to reviewing funding proposals during its April 2 funding cycle. These proposals include summer internships, as well as projects across all categories that will happen in the fall and winter of this year.


Addie Race and Sophie Vogle

Archaeological Field School in Herefordshire

Category: Global Awareness

Supervisor: Dr. Brett Hill, Sociology and Anthropology

Addie Race and Sophie Vogle will participate in the Institute for Field Research’s (IFR) Field School in Herefordshire, UK. This five-week archaeological field program teaches students the process of excavating an ancient site and the steps conservationists need to take in order to properly treat and maintain artifacts. In the 2021 summer season, archaeologists in will focus on the megalithic tomb of Arthur’s Stone. Race and Vogle will apply theories and methodologies learned in their courses at Hendrix to real-world experiences while being abroad and immersed in a foreign culture. In additional to vocational skills, they will learn about Neolithic studies and cultural anthropology.


Aubrey French and Naomi Brady

Art Resistance in New York City

Category: Special Projects

Supervisor: Dr. Anne Goldberg, Sociology/Anthropology

Aubrey French and Naomi Brady will travel to New York City to investigate how the art scene there has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing movement for social justice, and a volatile presidential election. Observing galleries, exhibits, and street art, they will record their experiences and relate them to broader concepts and trends in the art scene in general. By experiencing a diverse grouping of locations, they hope to highlight the intersectionality between politics, art, and culture.


Lauren Berry, Marni Younger, and Hailey Johnston

The Mountains Are Calling and I Must Go: Exploring Nature Writing Through Immersion in the Wilderness

Category: Special Projects

Supervisor: Dr. Peg Falls-Corbitt, Philosophy

Inspired by nature writers like John Muir, whose stories prompted their readers’ interest in conservation, Lauren Berry, Marni Younger, and Hailey Johnston will explore the concept of nature writing. As they hike the roughly 250 miles of the John Muir trail in California, they will spend the 30-days disconnected from technology and completely self-sufficient, carrying all the food and supplies necessary for their trek in backpacks. They plan to write daily, capturing the unique ecological and environmental qualities of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in their writings. This project is co-sponsored by the Hendrix-Murphy Programs in Literature and Language.


Keane Sammon and Victoria Horan

Central Arkansas Urban Wildlife Project

Category: Undergraduate Research

Supervisor: Dr. Maureen McClung, Biology

Working this summer as research technicians for the Central Arkansas Urban Wildlife Project, Keane Sammon and Victoria Horan will set up wildlife cameras in urban parks around Little Rock to collect data on the animals that inhabit these areas. This project will explore the impact of urbanization on Arkansas species, the necessity for “green” spaces to preserve biodiversity, and the astonishing ways in which human activities overlap with wild microcosms hidden in plain sight. Sammon and Horan will directly engage with conservation efforts, field research, and trained professionals in the scientific research communities of Arkansas. The Central Arkansas Urban Wildlife Project is a collaborative project between Hendrix College, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), and the Urban Wildlife Information Network (UWIN).


Avery Kennedy

Shakespeare Summer School: Online at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts

Category: Undergraduate Research

Supervisor: Prof. Antonio Horne, Theatre Arts and Dance

The prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, UK, is offering an online Shakespeare Summer School this year. The program is a four to five-week course designed to offer an immersive experience for its students as they investigate Shakespeare from an actor’s point of view. Theatre major Avery Waid has studied both the current trend toward realistic acting methods and also Shakespeare’s beautiful artistry of language, which is foreign to modern ears. This summer school gives Waid the chance to research how the two can be paired together.


Jayla King and Jovaun Williams

Uganda Primate Research

Category: Undergraduate Research

Supervisor: Dr. Matthew Moran, Biology

For eight weeks this summer, Jayla King and Jovaun Williams will work as research assistants in the Budungo Forest, which is located in western Uganda. They will assist Dr. Catherine Hobaiter, a world-renowned primatologist, who studies non-vocal primate communication. Her research is expanding with interest in the great apes (chimps), or other primates (monkeys) in the region. Much of their work will involve the daily observation and recording of behavior of habituated primate groups. Participating in this research will not only allow them to gain experience in animal behavior in the field setting, but it will also elevate their comprehension of how the professional field of research works. Dr. Jennifer Penner will travel with the students and serve as the on-ground facilitator, and she will assist with student training and mentoring and explore future collaborations.


Greer Ayers

Investigation into Lung Cancer Metastasis in the Brain

Category: Undergraduate Research

Supervisor: Dr. Jennifer Peszka, Psychology

Neuroscience major Jessica Ayers will join Dr. David Carbone, MD, PhD in his research labs this summer at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio, to do research on lung cancer metastasis in the brain. Ayers will work on data collection using various laboratory techniques and data analysis, and she will participate in writing projects that could yield publications. One technique is exome sequencing on resected brain tumors and matching the exome sequencing from the lung tumor of the same patient. She hopes to discover more about why lung cancer metastasizes in the brain and what can be done to treat patients who have this diagnosis.


Megan Pelley

Researching Drugs That Target the S100A1 Protein

Category: Undergraduate Research

Supervisor: Dr. Caitlin Scott, Chemistry

The S100A1 protein modulates muscle contraction, which is important for cardiac function. Megan Pelley will research drugs that target the S100A1 protein. The first portion of her project will involve calculating the movement of atoms in a given period of time to see the transition from the inactive to active, or functional form, of the S100A1 protein. The second portion of the research will be discovering how the protein behaves and acts with drugs through the use of computer programs, such as MTIOpen Source and Phase. Pelley hopes to develop a pharmacophore, a picture of how the protein and various drugs interact,


Emily Pickering  

Discovering Novel Antagonists that bind to the Kappa Opioid Receptor for Future Use in Antidepressants

Category: Undergraduate Research

Supervisor: Dr. Caitlin Scott, Chemistry

Depression affects 6.8% of the adult population in the United States, but the antidepressants commonly used today are riddled with issues, such as differing effects among patients, long incubation periods, and unpredictable side effects. Research suggests the binding of antagonists will block the activity of the protein kappa opioid receptor and thus cause antidepressant effects. Emily Pickering will continue the work of previous Hendrix students using computer software to create a reliable model of the protein kappa opioid receptor, and she will design drugs to interact with that model and find antagonists have the strongest affinity for binding to it. These compounds could potentially be used in future antidepressant medications that do not have the current drawbacks.


Alaina Ivers

Computational screening of the mu-opioid receptor complex to identify safe pain medication

Category: Undergraduate Research

Supervisor: Dr. Caitlin Scott, Chemistry

Chronic pain affects approximately 50 million individuals in the U.S., and high impact chronic pain affects about 20 million adults in the U.S. Opioids, such as morphine, are medications that are commonly used to manage pain. However, they are not safely monitored or used as prescribed, and they are highly addictive and cause tolerance. Opioids are agonists, or compounds that activate proteins, and in this case, the mu-opioid receptor. Alaina Ivers will conduct research this summer with the goal of identifying a safer alternative to opioids by designing an agonist that stabilizes the mu-opioid receptor when it is bound to the Gi protein and the sigma-1 receptor. This would provide pain relief while diminishing the undesirable side effects.


Dr. Gabriel Ferrer, Computer Science

An empirical comparison of unsupervised learning algorithms for robot scene recognition.

Category: Undergraduate Research

Dr. Gabe Ferrer will work with Dmitry Vyakhirev as they apply machine learning algorithms to real-time robot vision. In this project, Vyakhirev will assist in Ferrer’s ongoing research by measuring the effect of different alternative machine learning algorithms deployed on a physical robot in different settings. The key performance issue under assessment is determining how well these different algorithms are able to represent, in a summative way, all of the places the robot has visited, while enabling the robot to guess its location within a very short time window.


Dr. Rod Miller, Art

Senior Art Major Trip to NYC

Category: Special Projects

In conjunction with their required course, ARTH 430 Practicum: Senior Studio, art students Anna Bivens, Andy Bootz, Raven Edens, and James Trenthem will have a three-day, three-night visit to New York City galleries and museums. This trip gives students the chance to see works of art first-hand and grasp not only the difference between this and seeing them reproduced but also an understanding of how galleries work and display art in a variety of contemporary art galleries and modern/historic art museums. What they glean from the trip will contribute to their written research project in ARTH 430, their Senior Presentation, and their own art making and display for the Senior Art Show.


Dr. Delphia Shanks, Politics

Court Watch: Reducing Criminal Justice Debt through Ability to Pay Legislation

Category: Undergraduate Research

The United States leads the world in incarcerating its citizens, leading to declines in political participation, disproportionate representation of rural areas in legislative bodies, disproportionate effects on communities of color and low-income neighborhoods, and other distortions in social, economic, and democratic outcomes. Not only are fees and fines levied for the crime committed, they quickly balloon as a result of defendants’ inability to pay them. This leads to significant debt burdens that can cripple an individual’s financial security long beyond any prison sentence. Dr. Delphia Shanks is working with a local nonprofit, decARcerate, to evaluate and address the inequitable application of financial penalties in the criminal justice system. She will work with two students to complete a research plan that includes a literature review, data collection and analysis, and drafting a formal academic research paper for presentation. In addition, they will work together to make the results accessible to the public through a written policy brief and public presentation to policy advocates, stakeholders, and local nonprofits at the end of the summer.