Harold D. Hantz Award Winners

History of the Harold D. Hantz Awards

In 1955, the Honors Program at the University of Arkansas was founded by Harold Hantz, Professor of Philosophy, and Ben Kimpel, Professor of English. Harold Hantz was involved with the Honors Program in Fulbright College until his death, providing his unique vision, clear perspective, and unwaver-ing commitment. The Hantz legacy continues today with all of our graduating seniors and their thesis directors.

Students may participate in the Fulbright Honors Program in one of two ways: College Scholars or Departmental Scholars. Every year, the top graduate in each honors track is recognized through an endowment from the Hantz Family.

Harold D. Hantz College Scholars Award

College Scholars are asked to take most of their core courses at the honors level (including upper-level colloquia), meet all departmental requirements, and write and defend an honors thesis.

Harold D. Hantz Departmental Scholars Award

Departmental Scholars students must complete honors courses, satisfy all departmental requirements, and write and defend an honors thesis.

Margaret Kirby Hantz Service Award

Named in honor of the sister of Harold Hantz, the Service Award is given to the student who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the Fulbright College and the University of Arkansas.

Harold D. Hantz College Scholars Award

Kathryn Judy


Katherine Judy Harold D. Hantz College Scholars Award Recipient

Written by Dr. Andrew Alverson, Thesis Mentor

Kathryn Judy is, by any measure, among the best and brightest students I’ve had the privilege of working with at the University of Arkansas. I met Kathryn in the fall of 2017 when, as a sophomore, she asked if she could have an override into the graduate class on computer programming I was offering the following spring. I was immediately struck by how bright, thoughtful, and focused she was. All of my initial impressions were borne out during the class, and this led me to do something I rarely do—I reached out invited Kathryn to join my lab. Her potential for carrying out independent research was clear and, equally important, she was a joy to work with. She’s smart and insightful, and she can engage thoughtfully on a wide range of topics.

Scientists spend a lot of their time writing, and Kathryn’s an excellent writer. This reflects both her raw intelligence and, to a great extent, the creative thinking skills and cultural insights she developed through her minor in Classical Studies. Some might not fully appreciate how Classical Studies could complement a Major in Biology. Like Kathryn, the best scientists are broadly curious and draw from diverse disciplines to guide their work. Kathryn’s ability to think critically, interpret complex data, and distill big ideas into a clear narrative shows how a strong liberal education that combines science, history, language, and literature can stimulate and nurture a curious and readied mind. Dr. Rhodora Vennarucci agrees, saying that “Kathryn embodies the interdisciplinary nature of Classical Studies. She excels at the rigorous analytical skills required in Latin language learning but has also developed a sophisticated intercultural empathy that allows her to process complex information across disciplines and cultures, which she applies to global issues such as climate change in her scientific research.” 

Kathryn will continue the work she started for her honors thesis as a graduate student in Biological Sciences at the University of Arkansas. Kathryn’s ideas are making their way into the scientific literature, and she is proving to be very adept at grant writing. It will be exciting to see how Kathryn’s life and career unfold as she continues on in science.

Harold D. Hantz College Scholars Award

Winson Chee


Winson Chee Harold D. Hantz Departmental Scholars Award RecipientWritten by Dr. Adam M. Siepielski, Thesis Mentor

Winson Chee is a wonderful student – a sharp thinker with laser focus and a tenacious capacity for learning. This was made even more obvious when I realized that he completed his entire degree in just three years!  While I’m so pleased he was able to do this, it would have been wonderful to see what he could have done with a 4th year. He is one of the most hard-working, diligent, and motivated students I have met at this institution or others and an absolute pleasure to supervise throughout his project.

Winson joined my lab in 2017 after he took my general ecology course. He wanted to work on an ecological problem related to human health. To be honest, I was not sure my lab was the right place for this, since much of our work is on the side of basic research using aquatic insects to address questions at the interface of ecology and evolutionary biology. However, my lab was starting some projects on host-parasite interactions.  So, after a few months of chatting about possible ideas, and having Winson read relevant literature in disease ecology, we settled on him investigating how the effects of coinfection can affect immune responses. From then on, Winson was off and running. He designed a complete experiment using statistical models to derive appropriate sample sizes and quickly learned a variety of techniques from other faculty members in biological sciences to complete his work. His study showed that it is difficult to predict the effects of single infections from co-infections on immune responses. This is particularly relevant work, because with emerging infectious diseases becoming of growing concern, multiple infections occurring at the same time are increasingly likely. 

With no reservation, Winson represents the consummate scholar and shows what dedication to your studies can provide – a world of opportunities and confidence to go about moving through challenges. His next challenge will be medical school at UAMS. I’m confident that Winson will become an excellent physician and do remarkably well past that. I also know that the work he did as an honors student will serve him well in this endeavor. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up pursuing an MD and PhD. He has an amazing future in the medical field.

Harold D. Hantz Departmental Scholars Award

Jake Price


Jake Price Harold D. Hantz Departmental Scholars Award Recipient

Written by Dr. Roger Koeppe, II, Thesis Mentor

Jake Price is an exceptional student, and I was so excited when I learned that he was being recognized for his achievements.  After learning manual methods for synthesizing peptides during a study-abroad program in Australia in the summer of 2018, Jake joined my lab in the fall of 2018 and learned methods for automated peptide synthesis, self-assembly of lipid membranes and deuterium magnetic resonance.  His energy, creativity and dedication enabled him to make tremendous progress very quickly.

Jake accomplished remarkable research using model peptides in lipid membranes.  Although I had predicted that arginine would dominate a molecular "struggle" with glutamic acid in a transmembrane helix, Jake discovered the converse, using magnetic resonance experiments, namely that the glutamic acid confers multiple populations of different states for the arginine component and indeed the entire helix.  The results are important for understanding the dynamics, function and mutational differences among proteins in cell membranes.  Jake's results present the most detailed description to date of glutamic acid and arginine interactions in lipid membranes.

Jake is still refining his future plans during these uncertain times.  He has a great future in the biomedical arena.

Margaret Kirby Hantz Service Award

Anna Cunningham


Anna Cunningham Margaret Kirby Hantz Service Award RecipientWritten by Jill Geisler Wheeler, Fulbright Honors Associate Director

Leaders assume their positions for various reasons. Some seek to help foster a change, others want to give back to those who have given them so much, and still others take on the mantle of leadership because they know that they can. In the past four years that I have known Anna Cunningham, I have witnessed firsthand her desire to give back and take on the mantle of leadership, and heard her speak passionately for fostering change.

There are few students who exemplify enthusiasm for involvement and service more than Anna. During her time on the University of Arkansas campus, Anna has contributed to many campus organizations, including holding multiple leadership positions in the Student Alumni Board, Associated Student Government, Greek Life, and the Fulbright Honors Peer Mentoring Program. Anna has received multiple honors for her academic and volunteer accomplishments, including being chosen as one of 71 University of Arkansas Seniors of Significance for 2020. In Fall 2020, Anna will be returning to the University of Arkansas campus for her first semester at the School of Law.

Reflecting on Anna’s work for the Student Alumni Board, Mercedes Gazaway and Lisa McKinnon of the Arkansas Alumni Association state it best: “Since her freshman year, Anna has demonstrated a passion for and dedication to the mission of the Student Alumni Association, and, in particular, for upholding the beloved traditions at the University of Arkansas. Whether she is promoting the class ring program or helping to plan Homecoming, she is comfortable both leading and taking direction.” This dedication is also apparent in her work for the Peer Mentoring Program. As a three-time Peer Mentor for the Fulbright College Honors Program, Anna gave back to the student body and has guided dozens of mentees through the difficult transition from high school to college. She offered her time and experiences to her mentees and helped to normalize a positive honors freshman experience. This willingness to serve was the reason she was chosen to be one of three Lead Mentors for the 2019-2020 school year, her third year with the program. In addition to her normal mentoring requirements, as a Lead Mentor she has also taken on the role of leader and coordinator for eight other mentors. 

Anna’s attention to detail and ability to get her work done allows me to relinquish some of the responsibilities for the Peer Mentoring Program without the fear that important tasks will get overlooked. According to Gazaway and McKinnon: “In every endeavor, Anna’s first priority is achieving the agreed-upon goal and happily steps into any role that she feels will meet that end. Her attitude is positive, motivating, and infectious and this is why she is an exceptional servant leader.” When Anna says that she can do something, nothing will stop her!