Junior Alena Arnold used OWU Connection funds to travel to Chile to study conservation and environmental issues. The university is awarding 15 new Theory-to-Practice Grants this spring totaling $73,550. (Photo by William Hayes)

‘Helping Me to Achieve’

Ohio Wesleyan Awards 15 New OWU Connection Grants to Support Research, Creative, and Service Projects

By Cole Hatcher

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University students will work with homeless and runaway children, study special education in Ohio and Ireland, explore Latinx theatre productions, and more using $73,550 in newly awarded, university-funded grants.

The 15 new Theory-to-Practice Grants are part of Ohio Wesleyan’s OWU Connection. The signature program is designed to help students think big (understand issues from multiple academic disciplines), go global (gain international perspective), get real (translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience), and do good (volunteer to help others).

Alena Arnold, a junior from Ashland, Ohio, is part of a group that used a Theory-to-Practice Grant (TPG) to travel to Chile over winter break to study public-private conservation efforts and other environmental issues.

“I hope to work in conservation in the future, and I would love to travel and work internationally,” said Arnold, an Environmental Science and Biology double major and Sociology-Anthropology minor. “OWU’s TPG and study abroad program is definitely helping me to achieve those goals by offering me conservation experience in other countries.” 

Those earning spring 2022 grants and their upcoming OWU Connection projects include: 

  • Ali Amer of Lahore, Pakistan, earned funding to research “The role of steroid hormones in regulating song production in a common backyard bird.” Amer will conduct the project between May 2022 and April 2023 under the mentorship of Dustin Reichard, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biological Sciences. “Some birds sing throughout the year even when testosterone levels are low, suggesting that another hormone regulates song during the nonbreeding season,” Amer said. “We hypothesize that Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is that hormone and will test this possibility in Carolina Wrens, a common Ohio songbird.”
  • Allyson Amstutz of Orrville, Ohio, and Michele Nobel, Ph.D., assistant professor of Education, received a grant to study “From Dublin to Dublin: Comparing Special Education Supports and Perceptions of Disability from Ohio to Ireland.” Amstutz and Nobel will travel to Ireland in January to study special education in both locations. “We are seeking to investigate the relationship between perceptions of disability in given places,” Amstutz said, “and the special education supports that accompany in order to better advocate for students and their needs.”
  • Hannah Cox of Orange, California, was awarded funds to explore “Loggerhead Sea Turtle Conservation in Greece.” Cox will work throughout June as part of an unpaid research internship with a conservation-focused organization in Greece. The area is considered one of the most important nesting areas for loggerhead sea turtles in the Mediterranean.
  • Camy Dodd of Cincinnati, Ohio, earned a grant to research “Feminist Dramaturgy in Practice” under the mentorship of Cortney Knipp, M.F.A., assistant professor of Performing Arts. Dodd will travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for five days in October to observe two dramaturges as they apply feminist dramaturgy to their practice. “This experience will prepare me to successfully complete my senior project in feminist dramaturgy,” Dodd said, “and allow me to make connections with professional theatre artists.”
  • Alex Dolph of Middletown, Ohio, received funding to participate in a “Physically Centered: Suzuki/Viewpoints Theater and Dance Intensive Program” under the mentorship of Bradford Sadler, M.F.A., part-time instructor of Performing Arts. Dolph will travel to Portland, Oregon, for two weeks in May and June to attend “the Portland Experimental Ensemble Theatre (PETE) … studying the acting techniques of Suzuki and Viewpoints.”
  • Mayukha Dyta of Powell, Ohio, was awarded funds to study “Teaching Medical Diversity: How Indian Medical Schools Prepare Their Students for Diverse Patient Population.” Dyta will travel to India in June and July for the research, being conducted under the mentorship of Vanessa Hildebrand, Ph.D., assistant professor of Sociology-Anthropology. “India has one of the most diverse populations in the world, and with that brings diverse culture, socio-economic status, access to healthcare, and treatment preferential,” Dyta said. “The objective of this research is to use qualitative research methods common in ethnographic research to evaluate how medical students are trained in handling and diagnosing patient diversity.”
  • Richard Edwards, Ph.D., professor of Performing Arts, and student co-applicants Raphael Petit-Frere of Dover, New Jersey, and Aubrey Gerhardt of East Aurora, New York, earned a grant to support the OWU Summer Music Camp and student Internships. The weeklong music camp will be held in June and July on the Ohio Wesleyan campus. “This is a service-based day camp music program for middle and high school students in band, choir, and orchestra,” Edwards said. “In 2022, we are expecting between 100 and 150 campers.” Additional OWU students and Frank Chiou, D.M.A., associate professor of Performing Arts, will assist with the camp.
  • Bella Hintzman of Fremont, California, received funding to complete “A Deep Dive Into Regional Theatre Leadership in the Bay Area.” Hintzman will conduct the research over the summer in support of a senior capstone project in regional theater career preparation. “The main objective of this project is for me to make connections with people working for Bay Area regional theaters and observe regional theaters in practice,” Hintzman said. “While I have been able to develop my skills as a theater artist at OWU and learn the basics of how regional theaters operate in my coursework, I have not yet had the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the limits and potentials in this sphere of the theater industry.”
  • Caitlin Hyatt of Lodi, Ohio, was awarded a grant to support “Conservation and Education: An Internship with Pelican Harbor Seabird Station.” Hyatt will spend three months from May 20 to July 20 with the Miami, Florida-based rescue organization. “I will gain experience in wildlife with a specialty in seabirds,” Hyatt said. “I will learn how to communicate to the public about conservation, work hands-on with rehabilitation staff, and have the experience of working in a nonprofit wildlife rescue center.”
  • Blake Johnson of Centerburg, Ohio, earned a grant to support “Living and Learning Leadership: An Internship through the Ronald Reagan Institute.” Johnson will spend June and July in Washington, D.C., for the intensive internship. “The program is designed to civically engage students by exposing them to new ideas, specifically viewpoints that oppose their own,” Johnson said. “I have plans to do work through the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with the aim of spreading democracy and civic engagement around the world, especially in countries whose governments oppose these freedoms.”
  • Miranda Klank of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, received funding to explore “Airborne LiDAR Sensing for Archaeological Surveying of Indigenous Burial Mounds.” Klank will work on the project throughout the 2022-2023 academic year in collaboration with co-applicants and mentors John Krygier, Ph.D., professor of Environment and Sustainability, and Nathan Rowley, Ph.D., associate professor of Environment and Sustainability. Vanessa Hildebrand, Ph.D., assistant professor of Sociology-Anthropology, will assist. “The proposed project will consist of conducting and analyzing research by remote sensing with LiDAR technology of two Native American burial mounds outside of the city of Columbus, Ohio – the Jeffers Mound and the Shrum Mound,” Klank said.
  • Ethan Livingston of Toledo, Ohio, was awarded a grant to support “Leaping Lizards: Examining the Interaction Between Two Lizard Species in a Warming World.” Livingston will travel to France in June and July with Eric Gangloff, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biological Sciences, to conduct research as part of Ohio Wesleyan’s Summer Science Research Program. They will “work with collaborators on studying an endangered lizard in the region (Iberolacerta bonnali),” Livingston said. “We will be studying the effect of climate change on the lizard species and their interactions with a generalist lizard species (Podarcis muralis), which is invading the habitat of the endangered lizard as the region warms as a consequence of climate change.”
  • Saharla Loyan of Westerville, Ohio, earned a grant to support a “Huckleberry House Service Internship.” Loyan will complete the work between May 16 and July 1. “I intend to complete an internship in Central Ohio with Huckleberry House,” Loyan said, “a safe haven for at-risk, homeless, and runaway children.”
  • Glenda Nieto-Cuebas, Ph.D., professor of World Languages and Cultures, and student co-applicants Elizabeth Sumoza of Chicago, Illinois, and Olivia Fietzer of Dexter, Michigan, were awarded a grant to support “Exploring Latinx Productions of Early Modern Hispanic Texts.” They will complete their work by attending live performances and a workshop in May. “The goal of this project is to explore how two Latinx theater companies in the U.S. are adapting and producing 17th-century Hispanic plays for modern audiences,” Nieto-Cuebas said. “Special focus will be given to how these productions highlight and create awareness of current social and cultural issues affecting Latinx communities in our country.”
  • Cole Peterson of Marysville, Ohio, received funding to explore “The Perennial March: Britain’s Self-Imposed Disaster in Afghanistan.” Peterson will travel to the United Kingdom for two weeks in July and August to conduct research in the British Library’s India Office Archives. “This would benefit my honors research project, which looks to examine the origins of Britain’s expansion into Central Asia, known as the Great Game by historians,” Peterson said. “This research would span from 1828 to 1842, which covers the development of British strategy in the region to the end of the First Anglo-Afghan War, one of Britain’s greatest defeats in the 19th century.”

After the students complete their OWU Connection experiences, they will prepare reports and presentations based on their objectives and experiences, with many presenting at the university’s annual Spring Student Symposium.

In addition to Theory-to-Practice Grants, the OWU Connection includes Travel-Learning Courses, mentored research, internships, and more. Learn more at owu.edu/connection.


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