20 Years of Transformation

Nasya Sturdivant is a biomedical engineering doctoral student who is the subject of the student research feature for Research Frontiers.

Celebrating Two Decades of Distinguished Doctoral and Doctoral Academy Fellows at the University of Arkansas

In 2002, doctoral education at the University of Arkansas was forever changed when the Graduate School and International Education established the Distinguished Doctoral Fellowships and Doctoral Academy Fellowships. These nationally-competitive fellowships were established through a gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation with two goals in mind: to provide transformational opportunities for graduate students and conduct research that would drive economic development in Arkansas and improve the lives of those in our state, country and world.

  • 608 Total Fellows Graduated

    • 438 Doctoral Academy Fellows
    • 170 Distinguished Doctoral Fellows
  • Graduating fellows have gone to work at organizations including

    NASA, Microsoft, Intel, Apple, the U.S. Department of Defense, General Mills, Nestle, Bank of America, NVIDIA, Toyota, Walmart, Tyson and the National Science Foundation.
  • Graduating fellows have entered academic careers at prestigious institutions

    such as Harvard University, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Emory University, Boston University, Yale University and the University of Oxford.

Read About the Successes of Our Fellows

  • Lacey West — Distinguished Doctoral Fellow

    Lacey West, a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow in physics, was one of just 120 students in the nation to earn a Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology grant. West's research focused on X-ray binary systems (XRBs), which contain compact objects (such as a black holes or neutron stars) that accrete material from companion stars.
  • Joseph Carmack — Distinguished Doctoral Fellow

    Joseph Carmack, a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow and doctoral graduate in mechanical engineering, researched how to control nano-sized particles and use them as building blocks to create more sophisticated materials that harness the advanced properties of nano-sized materials. The theoretical understanding he developed with his research is pushing the development of the next generation of materials.
  • Andrew Camp — Distinguished Doctoral Fellow

    Andrew Camp, a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow, collaborated with professor Gema Zamarro to conduct research on the in-person learning racial gap during the COVID-19 pandemic and better understand the pandemic's effects on teacher turnover in Arkansas to help address racial disparities in the education system and support student's academic recovery.
  • Stuart Buck — Distinguished Doctoral Fellow

    Stuart Buck, Distinguished Doctoral Fellow who graduated with a doctorate in education policy, authored the book Acting White: The Ironic Legacy of Desegregation, which examines how desegregation affected schooling for Black children in America.
  • Ellen Brune — Doctoral Academy Fellow

    Ellen Brune, a doctoral academy fellow alumna, founded Boston Mountain Biotech, which is now a Genesis Technology Incubator client at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park. The research that led to the formation of the company was performed while Brune was a doctoral academy fellow.
  • Raymond Walter — Distinguished Doctoral Fellow

    Raymond Walter graduated from the University of Arkansas in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics, physics, and economics – a triple major – at the age of 18, before pursuing doctorates in mathematics and physics as a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow. He was also the first U of A student to earn the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Research Award, and helped lead computational physics research that could lead to breakthroughs in fiber-optic communications. In addition to earning a Graduate Research Fellowship in physics with the National Science Foundation, Walter’s research as a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow contributed to seven mathematics papers, and he became a data scientist after receiving his Ph.D. in physics in 2019.
  • Nicholas Gleason — Doctoral Academy Fellow

    Nicholas Gleason, a doctoral academy fellow who earned a doctorate in chemistry, was part of a team of University researchers who solved a complex problem in membrane biochemistry through the study of amino acids. Grant funding for the research was provided by both the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The research was performed in the University’s Center for Protein Structure and Function, which was established to develop a detailed understanding of the structure and function of proteins that could lead to improved treatments of human disease, including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and influenza.
  • Justin LeBlanc — Distinguished Doctoral Fellow

    Justin LeBlanc, a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow, helped spearhead a project to develop a computer simulator that provides customized electron beam tunings for radiation therapy. The research will help cancer centers provide better radiation therapy.
  • Matt Francis — Distinguished Doctoral Fellow

    Matt Francis is president and CEO of Ozark Integrated Circuits, Inc. in Fayetteville, a company which grew out of the research he engaged in while a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow at the University of Arkansas. At OIC, Francis leads ultra-high-temperature integrated circuits and packaging design, modeling, assembly and test, including silicon carbide and advanced ceramics in the form of rugged single-board computers and subsystems. He has raised over $12 million in research and development funding since Ozark IC’s founding, addressing application areas ranging from Venus (NASA) to geothermal wells (Dept. Energy) and hypersonic systems (DARPA). He is co-inventor on three U.S. patents and has published over 60 papers.
  • Corey Thompson — Doctoral Academy Fellow

    Corey Thompson founded WattGlass LLC following his studies at the university as a Doctoral Academy Fellow. WattGlass, a Genesis Technology Incubator client at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, was recently awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF)grant of nearly $750,000 to further develop the University of Arkansas’ patent-pending coating technology that makes glass anti-reflective, self-cleaning and highly transparent. Thompson said the nanoparticle-based coating will increase the efficiency of solar panels and reduce their cleaning and maintenance costs. The coating causes a self-cleaning effect on the glass by changing the way water reacts to its surface. Thompson founded the start-up company in 2014, while he was still a graduate student. He previously served as chief technology officer for the company. The grant will also allow the company to add two employees.
  • Andrea Rogers — Doctoral Academy Fellow

    Andrea Rogers, a Doctoral Academy Fellow pursuing her doctorate in English, published a novel about the Trail of Tears that was chosen to NPR’s “Best Books of 2020” list. Her most recent book, a collection of horror stories centered around a Cherokee family called Man Made Monsters, was published in 2022 to acclaim from Publishers weekly, Kirkus and Booklist.