Press Release

November 24, 2014 | By Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan student Makenna Huff used an OWU Theory-to-Practice Grant to study pilgrimages in historical, religious, and contemporary contexts. Her research included completing a 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain in summer 2014. She followed the Camino de Santiago route to the tomb of St. James. (Photo by Makenna Huff ’15)

Ohio Wesleyan Awards 16 New Theory-To-Practice Grants

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University is awarding $107,150 to its students and faculty in competitive fall 2014 Theory-to-Practice Grants to support 16 research and special projects on topics ranging from water privatization in Bolivia to wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe.

Since launching the Theory-to-Practice Grant program in fall 2009, Ohio Wesleyan has awarded nearly $1.2 million in university funds to the campus community, enabling nearly 650 OWU students, faculty, and staff to conduct research or complete special projects in 60 countries (including the United States), and 24 U.S. states/territories (including Ohio).

Senior Makenna Huff of Medina, Ohio, previously received a Theory-to-Practice Grant to explore the historical, religious, and contemporary contexts of religious pilgrimages. For her experience, the religion and mathematics double-major traveled to Spain over the summer and walked 500 miles, following the Camino de Santiago route to the tomb of St. James.

Of her grant-funded experience, Huff said: “Expanding my studies outside the classroom has revealed to me a new set of questions and directions for further analysis, which I look forward to exploring during my last year here at OWU. I now understand that study of religion cannot be separated from its lived experience, a lesson I am grateful to have learned and which I believe was possible only through personal journey.”

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

“Avian Microbiology: An Interdisciplinary Study in Australia,” submitted by junior Larynn Cutshaw of Marietta, Ohio, and sophomore Nadya Sotnychuk of Vineland, New Jersey. In June and July 2015, the OWU students will visit Australia to study the correlation between feather pigment and feather-degrading bacteria as well as compare the prevalence of feather-degrading bacteria in Australia and North America. “Brussels: The De Facto Capital of the European Union,” submitted by junior Erica Shah of Mumbai, India. In May 2015, Shah will travel to Belgium to study how the EU works and how it sustains its aims with such cultural, economic, and political diversity. “Conservation and Monitoring of Green Sea Turtles and Neotropical Birds in Costa Rica,” submitted by juniors Lauren Kiebler of Millersville, Maryland, and Emily Webb of Troy, Michigan. In July and August, the students will volunteer at the Sea Turtle Conservancy. “Contemporary Cinemas of Africa,” submitted by Nancy Comorau, assistant professor of English, and Mary Anne Lewis, assistant professor of modern foreign languages. In May 2015, the faculty members and four OWU students will attend the New York African Film Festival. “An Exploration of the Structure, Dynamics, and Impact on Quality of Life of Selected Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs) in Italy and the United States,” submitted by Christopher Fink, assistant professor of health and human kinetics; senior Sara Scinto of Mentor, Ohio; and junior Nathan Madonich of San Bruno, California. In March 2015, they will travel to Italy to explore the structure of selected SFSCs, including the impact on quality of life of food producers and consumers in these systems. “Female Genital Mutilation: Every Voice Makes a Difference,” submitted by sophomore Kaillie Winston of Millington, New Jersey. Between June and August 2015, Winston will travel to France to complete an internship with UnCut/Voices Press, a publisher dedicated to the fight against female genital mutilation. “Globalization of Accounting: U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (US GAAP) vs. International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS),” submitted by seniors Roger Skidmore of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico; Steven Uhler of Brunswick, Ohio; and Joshua Townsend of Fort Worth, Texas; and Justin Breidenbach, assistant professor of accounting. In January 2015, the group will travel to the United Kingdom to explore the cultural, political, and social aspects that have led to the global evolution of IFRS while also debating its advantages and disadvantages. “Globalization and Settlement in Rural Taiwan: The Linguistic and Religious Effects of the Political Exacerbation on the Kavalan Peoples in Xinshe Village,” submitted by junior Nancy Ransom of Toledo, Ohio. In July and August 2015, Ransom will visit Taiwan to study how the interdependence among politics, language, and religion has affected a small linguistic group, known as the Kavalan. “Improving the EAE (Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis) Model for Multiple Sclerosis,” submitted by seniors Kara Dawson of Parma Heights, Ohio, and Kaitlyn Kropf of Westerville, Ohio. Between January and May 2015, the OWU students will conduct research to create a model that more closely mimics human multiple sclerosis as a means to enhance future research into possible treatments. “Memory Formation in Prolonged Sleep Deprivation,” submitted by junior Josh Brown of Willshire, Ohio. Between January and May 2015, Brown will study the effectiveness of memory formation during a prolonged period of sleep deprivation to determine whether aerobic exercise may play a role in decreasing the usual effects. “Race and Fictional Geography: the Utopian Montmartre of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie,” submitted by Ana Oancea, assistant professor of modern foreign languages, and junior Bridget McQuaide of Solon, Ohio. In May and June 2015, they will visit France to apply sociological and film studies analyses to onsite observation of the Parisian quarter of Montmartre to explain the representation of its fictional Poulain. “The Right to Live: Impact of Water Privatization on Bolivian Inequality,” submitted by sophomore Matthew Mehaffy of Burlington, Iowa. Between June and August 2015, Mehaffy will travel to Bolivia to research water inequality and study alternative development practices. “Saving an Endangered Species: How U.S. Facilities Manage Lemurs and Their Conservation,” submitted by senior Shane Gorbett of Galion, Ohio. In March 2015, Gorbett will travel to North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia to compare how different facilities manage and care for lemurs and to study whether certain animal care methods are superior for captive lemurs. “Spanish Classical Theater and its Relevance to Contemporary Society,” submitted by Glenda Nieto-Cuebas, assistant professor of modern foreign languages; sophomore Lissette Gonzalez of West Chicago, Illinois; and junior Chris MacDonald of Valencia, California. In June and July 2015, the group will travel to Spain to study how plays are adapted and produced for contemporary audiences; how theater festivals maintain their historic tradition and significance; how the Almagro Festival has become so prominent; and how the festival benefits the town, visitors, and Spain, in general. “A War on Drugs or a War on the Poor? Drug Policy, Inequality, and Recovery,” submitted by Paul Dean, assistant professor of sociology/anthropology; senior Caitlen Sellers of Blairsville, Pennsylvania; and Jennifer Jolley, assistant professor of music. In December 2014 and January 2015, the group will travel to Portugal to research policy alternatives to the “war on drugs.” They will travel to Portugal, which has decriminalized drugs and now treats drug addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal problem. “Wildlife Rehabilitation and Community Outreach in Zimbabwe,” submitted by junior Amanda Marshall of Washington Township, Ohio. Between May and July 2015, Marshall will travel to Zimbabwe to volunteer at Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage, one of the largest and most successful rehabilitation and release centers in Africa.

Ohio Wesleyan’s Theory-to-Practice Grant Program is funded through the generous support of the President’s Circle, a group of donors who have made special gifts to fund initiatives related to Ohio Wesleyan’s Strategic Plan and OWU Connection curricular initiative.

Learn more about the grant program at, more about the OWU Connection curricular initiative at, and more about supporting these and other Ohio Wesleyan initiatives 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 86 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world experience. OWU’s 1,750 students represent 46 U.S. states and territories and 43 countries. 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