Your Hendrix Odyssey

April 2011 Odyssey Grant Recipients



Hendrix Odyssey Program 
Project Funding 
April 2011 


The Committee on Engaged Learning (CEL) has awarded $66,160.64 in Odyssey grants to 22 projects proposed by faculty and students. The grand total for funding since the Odyssey Program’s inception in 2005 is $1,811,364.40.  The CEL gratefully acknowledges the support of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language in this funding cycle. 


Students will help preserve the environment, research memorial sites and explore the scene of ancient battles, and take a road trip to learn more about the Civil Rights movement.  


The Odyssey Grant recipients include: 


Katharine Abbott, Cecilia Ayala and Mofan Gu 

The Displaced Elephants: A Study of the Elephant in a Thai Urban Setting 

Category: Global Awareness 

Sponsor: Dr. Sarah Lee 


In the past, the elephant was revered in Thailand’s religion, art, and culture. Radical shifts in resource management have restricted the elephants’ habitat and have led to increased contact with humans. Farmers resort to violent measures to prevent the animals from seeking food in their crops, leading to the human elephant conflict. Katharine Abbott, Cecilia Ayala and Mofan Gu will study the Asian elephant in Bangkok, where domesticated elephants roam freely in an urban setting; Chiang Mai, home of the Elephant Nature Foundation; and Ayutthaya, a  wealthy trade city that features the elephant in religious art at monasteries, temples and palaces. The students will combine their training in psychology, biology, art and anthropology  as they analyze the environmental and cultural shifts regarding the elephants.  “We hope that our project can build upon existing documentation of the Thai people’s and elephants’ struggles and paint an accurate picture of the various forms of extinction that occur within environmental degradation,” they said. 



Hannah Allee and Landon McGarry 

Life with Peanut Butter: A Closer Look at Malnutrition in Mali 

Category: Special Projects 

Sponsor: J.J. Whitney 


Ready-to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTFs) are peanut butter based and provide life-saving nutrition to children. There is only a short time period when malnourished children can be helped before a lack of nutrients causes brain damage and other severe medical problems. Project Peanut Butter produces RUTFs locally and distributes them to children to help heal them before it’s too late—in as little as eight weeks of treatment. Hannah Allee and Landon McGarry will volunteer with the organization as it enters a new country: Mali. They will work in the factory producing the food and then help distribute it to malnourished children.  “Our main purposes for working with Project Peanut Butter are to become more aware of global malnutrition and to spread awareness that Project Peanut Butter has the potential to cure malnutrition,” they said. 



Jim Bass 

Siege Battles at Stirling Castle and its Effect on Medieval Warfare 

Category: Undergraduate Research 

Sponsor: Dr. Sasha Pfau 


Stirling Castle in Scotland was the site of two major medieval battles. In 1304, Edward I of England was victorious in his siege of the castle, while a decade later the Scots won during the Battle of Bannockburn.  Although both battles were strategic victories, neither the English nor the Scots were able to effectively hold the castle. Jim Bass will build on his interest in history by focusing on medieval warfare at the castle. “The goal of this research project will be to examine the concept of siege warfare, its application and how it influenced understandings of waging war within the Middle Ages through a case study of these two battles,” he said. 


Linh Chuong, Stephen Borutta, Helen Mealy and Robert Tung 

Service Trip to the Navajo Nation: Assisting Diné Elderly on Black Mesa 

Category: Service to the World 

Sponsor: Dr. Peg Falls-Corbitt 


The Black Mesa on the Navajo Nation in Arizona is sacred land to the members of the tribe. The Peabody Coal Company is eager to mine this land, but the 50 families living there have resisted government relocation efforts. Many of the residents are elderly and live in extreme poverty on land that has been polluted by coal and uranium mining.  Linh Chuong, Stephen Borutta, Helen Mealy and Robert Tung will work with the Diné tribe members through the Black Mesa Indigenous Support Network, an organization devoted to raising awareness about the issues on Black Mesa. “We hope to learn more about the culture, the social and political issues, and their forms of political action, as well as offer any services we can provide to help them,” they said. 


Connor Corley and Molly Elders 

Volunteering for Conservacion Patagonica 

Category: Service to the World 

Sponsor: Dr. Joyce Hardin 


Patagonia, located in Chile and Argentina, was one of the most biodiverse areas of wilderness on the planet. However, grazing, deforestation, mining, and oil drilling have damaged the area. Conservacion Patagonica is a large-scale conservation project that has purchased large tracts of land with the intention of restoring and protecting the area; the ultimate goal is setting up national parks in both countries. Connor Corley and Molly Elders will volunteer with the organization on projects such as taking down fences, eradicating invasive plants or collecting seeds to increase biodiversity. “Through hands-on experience in the field of conservation, we will both gain valuable insight into the true nature of conservationism and conservation projects,” they said. 


Ryan Gaston 

Communication Development in Ensemble Conducting 

Category: Special Projects 

Sponsor: Dr. Karen Fannin 


This fall, Ryan Gaston will form a student-led “new music” chamber ensemble. He will serve as the conductor for the musicians. “The group will play music from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, in which they will encounter musical issues uncommon in most college-grade ensemble literature,” Gaston said. As conductor, his job will include teaching the performers how to approach “new music” compared with the more familiar traditional music.  Gaston will also develop his communication skills as a conductor to channel his interpretation of the music so the ensemble can recreate his vision. 


Ryan Gaston 

The Implications of Electronic Media in Composition and Orchestration 

Category: Undergraduate Research 

Sponsor: Dr. Norman Boehm 


Percussion, string and wind instruments are the oldest groups of musical instruments. In the last century, electronic musical media have been developed. “The relatively sudden creation of the newest instrument group (electrophones) has shaken the musical world, and composers and orchestrators are still searching for the proper place of electronic media in music,” Ryan Gaston said. Conventional instruments are limited in the sounds they can produce, while electronic instruments can sound any timbre, pitch, rhythm or dynamic.  For his project, Gaston will research the history and potential implications of electronic media on modern orchestration. 


Dominique Hamby and Lacey Freeman 

Sambhavna Clinic: A Lesson in Locally Relevant Disaster Relief 

Category: Undergraduate Research 

Sponsor: Dr. Sarah Lee 


“Today’s world needs lessons in how to respond in locally relevant ways following disaster,” said Dominique Hamby and Lacey Freeman. They will travel to India to conduct research at the Sambhavna Clinic in Bophal. This holistic health clinic incorporates India’s indigenous medical traditions with yoga as it deals with human and environmental effects of the 1984 Union Carbide chemical disaster. As part of their project, they will gather information in the clinic’s library, which contains the world’s largest archive collection on the Bhopal disaster. 


Jeannette Inema 

The Economics of History: Value and Cost to Local Communities of Historic Sites 

Category: Undergraduate Research 

Sponsor: Dr. Sarah Lee 


On a cross-cultural exploration of whether historic sites provide a net benefit to local communities, Jeannette Inema will begin with a visit to genocide memorial sites in her native Rwanda followed by research at castles and ruins in England. She will research the perceived value of a site as well as the economic cost and benefit to the local community, such as tourism income and employment. “The goal of this project is to determine how to best maintain a historic site or a memorial site to the benefit of the local community and the general public,” Inema said. 


Trang Nguyen 

Winter Break with Unite for Sight 

Category: Service to the World 

Sponsor: Dr. Tom Goodwin 


Trang Nguyen will volunteer in Ghana with Unite for Sight, a non-profit organization that supports eye clinics worldwide with the goal of improving eye health and preventing blindness. “All of the village patients receive free surgery funding by Unite for Sight so that no patient remains blind due to lack of funds,” Nguyen said.  In the remote areas of the country, she will work with the medical professionals as they provide eye care. During her project, Nguyen will learn about the complexities and realities of global health and social entrepreneurship. 


Stephanie Oshrin 

Equal Play:  Increasing Children's Access to Physical Activity at the Women's Shelter of Central Arkansas 

Category: Special Projects 

Sponsor: Dr. Lisa Leitz 


As a volunteer at the Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas, Stephanie Oshrin noticed that the children living there did not have the opportunities for physical activity available to their peers due to a limited play area on-site. “Due to the risk of being recognized or harmed, children at the shelter lack the opportunity to ride bikes or play in the neighborhood,” she said. This fall she and other Hendrix volunteers will design and renovate a backyard play area to allow the maximum of outdoor activity for the residents—including a perimeter sidewalk for bicycles, playground equipment and a fence featuring a colorful mural. 


Hunter Owen 

Pharmaceutical Regulation in Rural Appalachia 

Category: Special Projects 

Sponsor: Dr. Sasha Pfau 


“In the last decade, the problem of OxyContin abuse has become what many consider an epidemic,” said Hunter Owen. The highly addictive opiate-based analgesic is the most popular painkiller in the United States—and one that is most likely to be abused.  Rural, low-income areas have higher numbers of OxyContin addicts. In his project, Owen will explore the cultural causes behind the epidemic through a series of interviews with health professionals in the area. He’ll also focus on the historical context of the drug, pharmaceutical regulation and public health policy. 


Taylor Phoumivong and Morgan Hill 

Discovering Peru 

Category: Special Projects 

Sponsor: Dr. Peg Falls-Corbitt 


In high school, Taylor Phoumivong and Morgan Hill served as ambassadors at a state-wide Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership seminar for selected sophomore representatives.  As alumni, they will participate in the organization’s Leadership Alumni Tour Program on a journey to Peru. “The trip has been designed to carry out three core components of learning: historical awareness, cultural appreciation, and hands on service,” they said.  For their service project, they will help rebuild an orphanage in Cuzco. 


Amelia Robert 

The Problem of Food Pricing 

Category: Special Projects 

Sponsor: Victoria Evans 


“One of the public health issues I am most passionate about is the fact that healthy food is often less accessible to people of lower incomes,” said Amelia Robert. This concern has inspired her to film a documentary about the difficulty some have in obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables. For her film, Robert  will use a hypothetical family of four in which both parents earn minimum wage to determine what foods they can afford to purchase as a week’s worth of groceries. 


Caiti Rolfes-Haase and Maria Ims 

The Hendrix SlamMechanics 

Category: Professional and Leadership Development 

Sponsor: Shin Yu Pai 


This fall, Caiti Rolfes-Haase and Maria Ims will create “The SlamMechanicis” a slam poetry program on campus. It will involve writing workshops to nurture students’ creativity along with live performances and slam poetry competitions. “The heart of The SlamMechanics will revolve around embodying the power of human thought and emotion, allowing Hendrix students to immerse themselves in the humbling beauty and comedy of the spoken word,” they said. This project is co-sponsored with the generous support of the Hendrix Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language. 


Amethyst Schmued and Marissa Moyer 

Human Impact on the Sierra: A Visual Representation Through Rephotography 

Category: Special Projects 

Sponsor: Dr. Jeff Kosiorek 


“Taking contemporary photographs and comparing them to past photographs of the same spots is often an effective way of seeing the degree of change upon a particular area,” said Amethyst Schmued and Marissa Moyer. By conducting a rephotographic survey in the Sierra Nevada area of northern California, they will be able to see elements of continuity and change, which can be biological or social. The pairs of photographs of the same area can show how humans impact the landscape through pollution, removal of plants and wildlife, or increased development. 


Adelia Shiffraw 

Civil Rights Road Trip 

Category: Special Projects 

Sponsor: Jim Wiltgen 


Adelia Shiffraw and Dean Jim Wiltgen will lead a group of Hendrix students on an interactive, immersive road trip and educational experience regarding civil rights. The student participants, representing different affinity groups on campus, will explore the Civil Rights movement in writings and film before embarking on a journey to important sites in Tennessee and Alabama. “Although the focus of this Odyssey project is on the educational immersion experience and discourse within this group, another aim is to bring what we have learned and an increased level of tolerance back to our campus environment,” Shiffraw said. 


Molly Umble 

Running for Reeve 

Category: Special Projects 

Sponsor: Claudia Courtway 


When she crosses the finish line in the New York City Marathon, Molly Umble will be helping support the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation on “Team Reeve.” In order to participate, she will be raising money to support the foundation, which is helps patients with spinal cord injuries. She became interested in the foundation after a family member suffered a spinal cord injury. This event will also be the first marathon for Umble. “My goal for this experience is to push my body and mind more than I ever have before while raising money for a wonderful cause,” Umble said. 


Daniel Williams and Shelby Howlett 

Nowhere Else to Go: Service to LGBTQ Youth Experiencing Homelessness 

Category: Service to the World 

Sponsor: Tonya Hale 


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) teens face unique challenges as they experience homelessness because of their sexualities or gender identities. “Many teens report harassment or refusal of services by many agencies serving homeless teens,” said Shelby Howlett and Daniel Williams. These LGBTQ teens, many of whom were kicked out of their homes by their parents, often feel that they have nowhere else to go when agencies don’t support them. Howlett and Williams will work with these youth at Lucie’s Place, an emerging center in Little Rock, and at the Ali Forney Center, one of the nation’s best established centers for LGBTQ teens in New York City. 


Dr. Anne Goldberg and Prof. Maxine Payne 

Rural Women and Globalization: Bagamoyo, Tanzania 

Category: Special Projects 


Dr. Anne Goldberg and Prof. Maxine Payne will travel with two Hendrix students to Bagamoyo, Tanzania, to interview and photograph rural women. They will produce an exhibit that pairs an image with the words of each woman. Combining the talents of the group, they will bring together the visual, oral and written as they convey the stories of the women’s lives. 


Dr. Tom Stanley 

Economics Research, ECON 497 

Category: Undergraduate Research 


Economics Research offers students the opportunity to conduct economic experiments as part of their research projects. Funding from the Odyssey Program will help provide monetary incentives for student volunteers and thereby allow Hendrix students to contribute to economists’ research knowledge about economic behavior. 


Dr. Leslie Zorwick 

Psychology 484-Advanced Research: Stereotyping and Prejudice 

Category: Undergraduate Research 


Students in Dr. Leslie Zorwick’s Psychology 484 course will work with her on a project to examine the effect of stereotypes on behavior. They will focus on research regarding stereotypes based on gender and on advanced age—as both overarching categories and also as smaller, more specific groups. The students will gain experience in laboratory based research, from setting up experiments and interacting with participants to data analysis and writing.