Press Release, Global

April 21, 2017 | By Ohio Wesleyan University

Ohio Wesleyan senior Kiersten Payne used a university-funded Theory-to-Practice Grant to study modern Christianity in Germany. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in religion. (Photo courtesy of Kiersten Payne)

Ohio Wesleyan Awards 16 New Theory-To-Practice Grants

University-Funded Program Supports Learning Experiences Across Country, Around World

DELAWARE, OHIO – Ohio Wesleyan University is awarding nearly $100,000 to students and faculty in competitive Theory-to-Practice Grants to support research and special projects on topics ranging from climate change in Iceland to cross-cultural relations and language in Ecuador.

Since launching the Theory-to-Practice Grant program in fall 2009, Ohio Wesleyan has awarded nearly $1.67 million in university funds to the campus community, enabling more than 800 OWU students, faculty, and staff to conduct research or complete special projects in more than 60 countries.

Kiersten Payne, Class of 2017, used a Theory-to-Practice Grant to travel to Wittenberg, Germany, to research the intersection of faith and society for modern Christians living the city where Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation by posting his “95 Theses” in 1517.

“My Theory-to-Practice Grant experience had a huge impact on many aspects of my life,” said Payne, a religion major. “Academically, I have learned how to do the research and planning that is necessary for a project of this type and magnitude. … Professionally, it has taught me how to make connections with people.”

Ohio Wesleyan awards two rounds of Theory-to-Practice Grants funding each academic year. Here are the spring 2017 grant recipients and their projects:

  • “Leatherback Conservation in Costa Rica with the Earthwatch Institute,” submitted by senior Ryan Bishop of Sofia, Bulgaria. Bishop will travel to Costa Rica to study turtles for a week in November.
  • “Conversing with Racial, Cultural, and Language Barriers Present: Guayaquil, Ecuador,” submitted by junior Courtney Clark of Chester, Pennsylvania. Starting in mid-June, Clark will spend four weeks in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
  • “Effects of Tourism and Global Warming on Icelandic Natural Landscape,” submitted by seniors Madeleine Coalmer of Canfield, Ohio, and Haley Talbot-Wendlandt of Gaithersburg, Maryland. They will conduct their research for two weeks in early June.
  • “Who are Museums For?” submitted by sophomore Anna Davies of Saint Clairsville, Ohio; Nancy Comorau, associate professor of English; and Erin Fletcher, director of the Richard M. Ross Art Museum. They will travel to Finland for five days in July.
  • “Following the San Patricios to the West of Ireland,” submitted by junior Chloe Dyer of Guysville, Ohio, and Nancy Comorau, associate professor of English. They will travel to Ireland for three days in mid-September.
  • “Microbiota on Birds Captured in Costa Rica,” submitted by junior Kyle Davis of Sunbury, Ohio. Davis will conduct research in Costa Rica for three months during the summer.
  • “From Early Museum to Contemporary Biennial,” submitted by freshman Thalia Sallas-Brookwell of Los Angeles, California; sophomore Caroline Shaffer of Murphysboro, Illinois; and Erin Fletcher, director of the Ross Art Museum. They will travel to Italy, with other students, for a week in late May.
  • “The Atlantis Project,” submitted by junior Cara Harris of Chicago, Illinois. Harris will travel to Uruguay for a month starting in mid-May.
  • “Growing, Going, and Staying Local: an Exploration of Economic and Cultural Importance of French Local Market,” submitted by senior Chloe Holmes of Gahanna, Ohio, and junior Meg Teitelman of Concord, Massachusetts. They will conduct research in France for two weeks in late May.
  • “The Juneau Icefield Research Program,” submitted by sophomore Matthew Burke of Medina, Ohio, and Craig Jackson, associate professor of math and computer science. They will conduct research in Alaska for two months during the summer.
  • “OWU Theatre & Dance Students at the Stratford (Ontario) Shakespeare Festival,” submitted by Edward Kahn, professor of theatre and dance. He will take 17 students to Ontario in fall 2018.
  • “Micro-finance in Costa Rica: A Ticket Out of Poverty,” submitted by junior Joshua Martineau of Boston, Massachusetts. Martineau will travel to Costa Rica for the month of June.
  • “Comparative Research of Various Roots of Agrarian Struggle: Mexico/Columbia,” submitted by senior Matthew Mehaffy of Burlington, Iowa. Mehaffy will present research in the Dominican Republic for a week in early May.
  • “Marketing in the Big Apple,” submitted by junior Allisa Schuller of Mansfield, Ohio. Schuller will travel to New York City to complete a seven-week internship at Goodman Media International Inc. starting in May.
  • “Conservation Efforts with Wildlife Friends Foundation in Thailand,” submitted by senior Elizabeth Sommerdorf of Lakeville, Minnesota. Sommerdorf will volunteer in Thailand for two months starting in June.
  • “Digital Fashion: Personal Intern to Caroline Vazzana, Global Glam Magazine,” submitted by senior Andrew Willard of Charlotte, North Carolina. Willard will travel to New York City for more than two months starting in May.

Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Theory-to-Practice Grant program, part of The OWU Connection, at

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers nearly 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at