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Endless opportunity

Ohio Wesleyan Awards Nearly $47,000 in New Theory to Practice Grants

By Cole Hatcher

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University students will explore conservation and sustainability in Peru, food allergy policy in the UK, the mental health effects of music in the black community, and other topics using nearly $47,000 in Theory to Practice Grants.

The nine new TPG awards are part of the Ohio Wesleyan Signature Program, The OWU connection. The program is designed to help students think big (understand issues across multiple academic disciplines), go global (gain an international perspective), and get real (translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience).

Previous grant recipient Elliot Spicera sophomore from Newark, Ohio, used his funds to visit Iceland for two weeks last semester to study the costs and benefits of ecotourism.

“After completing my theory-to-practice fellowship experience, I can truly say that it was the most rewarding experience of my life,” said Spicer, a double major in economics and environmental science. “When the TPG proposal started…the idea of ​​actually being able to do this research seemed like a dream, and I could never have imagined that it would actually happen.”

Those who win the Fall 2021 Ohio Wesleyan Theory-to-Practice Grants and their upcoming projects include:

  • “Conservation and Sustainable Development in the Oxapampa Cloud Forest”, submitted by Alena Arnold, a junior from Ashland, Ohio. Arnold plans to travel to South America to volunteer for four weeks working on a conservation project in Oxapampa, a very biodiverse and ecologically significant region in Peru. Arnold is majoring in environmental science and biology, and a minor in sociology-anthropology.
  • “Returning to Sicily: Exploring the Historical Trauma of the 19th Century in Valguarnera Caropepe”, presented by Dimitri Ashakih, a senior from Norwalk, Ohio. Ashakih plans to travel to Italy for a week to interview historians, archivists, priests, government officials and civilians in the Valguarnera Caropepe region of Sicily, as well as visit historical sites to study conditions political and economic traumas that caused mass migration to the United States. United States in the 1800s and 1900s. Ashakih will also research his family lineage with all information compiled into a creative non-fiction work. Ashakih specializes in English and communication.
  • “Redirecting Perspectives: Women’s Crimes in Antiquity and American Law”, presented by Hank Blume, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics. Blume will use the grant to enhance its “Women in Antiquity” course, allowing up to 33 students to hear the experiences of women accused of crimes that constitute cultural taboos, and then raise awareness of the associated issues.
  • “Collecting Histories: A Study of Authenticity, Immigration, and Imperialism in European Food Systems”, submitted by senior Acadie Caryl from Highland Heights, Ohio, with a senior Leigh Stavar of Perry, Ohio. They plan to travel to the UK for a week to explore the impact of British colonialism on immigrant food corridors through the lens of perceived authenticity in the London, Birmingham and Oxford areas. Their research will include visiting food markets, vendors, restaurants and diners to conduct structured observations, smaller interviews and oral histories. Caryl is majoring in English Literature and Psychology, and minoring in Environmental Studies. Stavar is a major in pre-medicine and nutrition, and a minor in English.
  • “Caught in the Act: Using Trail Cameras to Investigate the Relationship Between Nest Microhabitat and Predation in the Desert Southwest”, Submitted by Junior Josie Fornara of Coshocton, Ohio, with a second Lily Hambric of Charleston, South Carolina. They will use their grant to study between March and mid-June whether different characteristics of songbird nest sites affect the likelihood of attack by specific desert predators. They will use trail cameras to study black-throated sparrow nests at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Their goal is to offer insight into how climatic changes in desert plant and predator communities may affect the nesting success of songbirds. Fornara is a pre-professional major in zoology and environmental science, and a minor in chemistry. Hambric is a French major and a psychology minor.
  • “Intensive workshop: playing for new pieces”, presented by Cortney McEniry Knipp, MFA, Assistant Professor of Performing Arts. Knipp’s project focuses on preparing student actors to perform in a new play development workshop, where actors and directors support a playwright by rehearsing and performing a scripted work as it is in review course. Ohio Wesleyan will host a New Game Development Workshop with Kimberly Bellflower and Megane Tobacco for their piece “Teen Girl FANtasies”. The workshop will accommodate up to eight students, including the roles of stage manager and assistant director.
  • “Changing students’ perceptions of regulatory policy: studying food allergy policy in the UK”, presented by Francoise NestorPh.D., assistant professor of politics and government, with students Danielle Blacka senior from Proctorville, Ohio; Sarah Sewell-Conley, a senior from Sylvania, Ohio; and Mallorie Watts, a senior from Delaware, Ohio. They plan to travel to the UK for a week to test out a concept that they hope will be part of a future OWU travel learning course on food policy regulation. Black is a major in politics and government and pre-law, and a minor in history. Sewell-Conley is a nutrition major. Watts specializes in social justice, politics and government.
  • “Conservation of the macaw”, submitted by Zynnia Peterson, a junior from Mount Vernon, Ohio. Peterson plans to travel to Costa Rica for a month this summer to volunteer to help conserve endangered macaws. Peterson is majoring in General Zoology and minoring in Environmental Science.
  • “SoulR Eclipse – A study on the effects of music on mental health and adjustment within the black community”, submitted by Xena Yarbrough, a senior from Providence, Rhode Island. Yarbrough will work until April to study the effects of music in the black community, on the brain, the psychological responses it induces and how music can and has been used for healing. As part of the study, Yarbrough will write and create an album discussing the different experiences of growing up black people in America. The album will then be presented to a discussion group of 20 students and ethnographic (cultural) data will be collected and analyzed. Yarbrough is a psychology major.

After students complete their OWU Connection experiences, they will prepare reports and presentations based on their goals and experiences, and many will present at the university’s annual student symposium in the spring.

In addition to theory-to-practice grants, The OWU Connection includes travel-based learning courses, mentored research, internships, and more. Learn more about owu.edu/login.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s leading liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 70 undergraduate majors and competes in 24 NCAA Division III college sports. Thanks to its signature program, The OWU connection, Ohio Wesleyan teaches students to integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and holistic perspective, and apply knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the US News & World Report and Princeton Review “Best Colleges” lists. Connect with OWU expert interview sources at owu.edu/experts or learn more about owu.edu.

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