The College’s 20 Under 40

Check out the College’s inaugural list of incredible young alumni

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What do a biomedical scientist, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, and a software CEO have in common? They’re all alumni of the College of Arts and Sciences.

We’re proud of our alumni and the impact that they’re having on the world. And make no mistake: That impact stretches far and wide. Our alumni are today’s innovators. Leaders. Risk-takers. Our graduates believe that they can change the world — and they often do.

The College of Arts and Sciences is honored to announce our first-ever “20 Under 40” list.

  • Katherine Ntiamoah

    Katherine Ntiamoah

    United States Diplomat

    Katherine Ntiamoah (B.A. ’08, International Studies, Political Science) is a United States diplomat specializing in public diplomacy at the Department of State. She’s served in various embassies and consulates in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Singapore, Mexico, Belgium, and Pakistan, and she will soon be moving to Lebanon. Ntiamoah holds an M.A. in International Studies and was a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellow at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Deeply committed to public service, she’s worked for the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Relations and volunteers with Indiana’s Center for Civic Engagement. She speaks French, Spanish, and Arabic.

    Read more about Ntiamoah

  • Andrew Kastner

    Andrew Kastner

    Director of community impact

    Andrew Kastner (B.A. ’02, Religious Studies, Jewish Studies) is an optimist, educator, and activist. He received rabbinical ordination and, in an effort to deeply understand food-systems, certification as a kosher slaughterer (but maintains primarily a plant-based diet). He’s facilitated service-learning programs on Navajo and Hopi reservations, developed sustainable food systems in Mayan villages, and worked as a university chaplain. Currently, as director of community impact at the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, Kastner works to advance communities of understanding, creativity, and resiliency. His work has been profiled in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Smithsonian Magazine.

    Read more about Kastner

  • Morgan Mohr

    Morgan Mohr

    Rhodes Scholar

    Morgan Mohr (B.A. ’17, Individualized Major Program, History, Political Science) was a 2017 Rhodes Scholar, one of only 32 such scholars nationwide and the only student from a Big Ten university to receive the award that year. Through her scholarship that funds studies at the University of Oxford, she obtained a master's degree in Comparative Social Policy this past year and will obtain a master's degree in Public Policy next year, having created her own major in Feminist Policy while attending IU. Mohr recently served as an executive advisor to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring Our Heroes program and has worked for several political campaigns, including Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for president.

    Read more about Mohr

  • Baindu L. Bayon

    Baindu L. Bayon

    Biomedical scientist

    Baindu L. Bayon (B.S. ’03, Biology) is an AAAS science and technology policy executive branch fellow at the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences in the Division of Clinical Innovation. She received her Ph.D. from the IU School of Medicine with a focus on the neurogenetics of Alzheimer’s disease and regulation of beta-secretase. She’s earned a myriad of awards throughout her already distinguished career, including being named to the Indianapolis Business Journal's “Forty Under 40.” Bayon serves as vice president of the IU Neal Marshall Alumni Club’s national board of directors and has served on the board of directors for Adult & Child Health. She has also served as a mentor with the 100 Black Men of Indianapolis and was recently named among the United Way of Central Indiana 100 Heroes.

  • Tarun Gangwani

    Tarun Gangwani

    Designer and product manager

    Tarun Gangwani (B.S. ’11, Cognitive Science) is an award-winning product and design professional who currently leads a portfolio of products within the Twitch Developer Experience group (dev.twitch.tv). Throughout his career, Gangwani has helped thousands of developers build sustainable businesses by crafting experiences that are delightful to use and harmonious with their workflows. In 2016, he was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list, and his work has been recognized or featured in numerous other publications, including The New York Times, CIO.com, and Tech.co.

    Read more about Gangwani

  • Grady Barker

    Grady Barker

    Sculptor and designer

    Grady Barker (B.F.A. ’03, Fine Arts, LAMP) is the co-founder and owner of Paper Mâché Monkey, a New York-based studio that designs and builds custom props, puppets, scenery, and larger creative environments for the entertainment industry. He crafted scenery and props for the Broadway productions of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Peter and the Star Catcher, both of which were nominated for the Tony award for Best Scenic Design (the latter winning in 2012). Barker’s studio has also created custom work for Post-it, Delta, Saturday Night Live, and Sesame Street, as well as scenery for Rihanna and Mike Gordon of Phish.

    Visit Barker's website

  • Matt Shane

    Matt Shane

    Engineer, mixer, and producer

    Matt Shane (B.A. ’02, Telecommunications) resides in Brooklyn, where he works as an audio engineer, music producer, and co-owner of Eleven Audio Design, a nationally recognized firm specializing in high-end audio systems. He won a Grammy Award for his work on HBO’s Flight of the Conchords albums and has worked with Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello, and Daniel Lanois, among many others. Shane recently sound-designed and mixed two films featured at the Tribeca Film Festival and completed mixing on an upcoming Joan Osborne album. He proposed to his IU alumna wife Rhiannon on stage at the IU Auditorium during the 2009 Flight of the Conchords’ Little 500 concert.

    Visit Shane's website

  • Kathleen Plinske

    Kathleen Plinske

    Executive vice president and provost

    Kathleen Plinske (B.A. ’01, Spanish, Physics) is executive vice president and provost of Valencia College, a community college in Orlando, Fla., that serves more than 60,000 students annually. Having been a first-generation student at IU, Plinske strives to increase access to higher education in underserved communities. She holds an Ed.D. from Pepperdine University, an M.B.A. from the University of Florida, and was a Wells Scholar. Recognized as a distinguished alumna from IU, Pepperdine, and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Plinske was named Hispanic Community Champion by the Hispanic Chamber of Metro Orlando and as an Aspen Presidential Fellow for Community College Excellence.

    Visit Plinske's website

  • Shana Berger

    Shana Berger

    Artist, writer, and administrator

    Shana Berger (B.F.A. ’04, Fine Arts) is emerita director of the Coleman Center for the Arts, an organization in York, Alabama, that strives to integrate contemporary art into education, civic life, and community development throughout the American south. Berger also serves on the board of directors for the Andy Warhol Foundation, which seeks to advance the visual arts and the role of the artist in society. A co-founder of the Indiana artist group Your Art Here, Berger’s own artwork has been exhibited nationally at a range of venues, including Space One Eleven in Alabama and the Soap Factory in Minneapolis.

    Read more about the Coleman Center

  • Michael Koryta

    Michael Koryta

    Novelist

    Michael Koryta (B.A. ’06, Criminal Justice) is a New York Times-bestselling author of 12 suspense novels. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages and has won or been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Edgar Award, the Shamus Award, and the International Thriller Writers Award, among many other honors. Koryta’s most recent novel, Rise the Dark, was a national bestseller and named to several Best of 2016 lists, including The New York Times and the Kirkus Reviews. Before turning to writing full-time, Koryta worked as a private investigator and as a newspaper reporter.

    Visit Koryta's website

  • Max Yoder

    Max Yoder

    CEO

    Max Yoder (B.A. ’10, Individualized Major Program) is the co-founder and CEO of Lessonly, an Indianapolis-based tech company that makes team training software. Since its inception in 2012, Lessonly has grown to 100 employees, 1.5 million learners, and more than 550 customers. In 2015, the company was named Tech Startup of the Year by TechPoint’s Mira Awards. Yoder, who at IU created his own major in brand management and advertising, also helps to lead the Brighter Indianapolis Fund, a Lessonly-funded organization that provides grants and volunteer resources to youth-focused nonprofits in Indianapolis.

    Read more about Yoder

  • Ellis Dumas III

    Ellis Dumas III

    Regional director

    Ellis Dumas III (B.A. ’09, Criminal Justice, African American and African Diaspora Studies) serves as Regional Manager for Region 1 of the Indiana Department of Child Services, a region that covers the Lake County area of Northwest Indiana. As a family man, a mentor, and a child advocate, Dumas says that he’s been blessed with an abundance of gifts and believes it’s his duty to pass those blessings around in his community. A lifelong Hoosier, he graduated from Gary West Side High School before earning his degree from IU. Dumas also holds an M.B.A. from Indiana Wesleyan University.

    Read more about Dumas

  • Jennifer Burnett-Zieman

    Jennifer Burnett-Zieman

    International public health advisor

    Jennifer Burnett-Zieman (B.A./B.S. ’02, Economics, Biology, LAMP) is the Malawi country director for VectorLink, a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development that focuses on malaria prevention. She previously served as head of monitoring and evaluation for Abt Associates’ SHOPS Plus Project, a $150 million project that strives to improve health outcomes on a global scale. Burnett-Zieman has contributed to a range of international development initiatives, including the Afghanistan Health Sector Resiliency Project, and The Carter Center's neglected tropical disease projects in South Sudan. Through her work with the VectorLink Project, she’s currently stationed in the Malawi capital of Lilongwe.

    Read more about Burnett-Zieman

  • Amanda Nickey

    Amanda Nickey

    President and CEO

    Amanda Nickey (B.A. ’01, Anthropology) is the president and CEO of Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, a Bloomington-based nonprofit that increases access to healthy, whole foods and provides community-based opportunities to build self-reliance. Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard distributes over 181,000 bags of groceries annually and, in 2013, received the Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Award, which recognizes innovative U.S.-based grassroots organizations. In addition to running day-to-day operations of the nonprofit, Nickey recently steered the organization’s $325,000 capital campaign and is on the leadership team for Closing the Hunger Gap, a national coalition of organizations working to integrate social justice in emergency food programs.

    Read more about Nickey

  • Marcus Wicker

    Marcus Wicker

    Poet and professor

    Marcus Wicker (M.F.A. ’10, Creative Writing) is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a Pushcart Prize, The Missouri Review's Miller Audio Prize, and fellowships from Cave Canem and the Fine Arts Work Center. His first collection Maybe the Saddest Thing (HarperPerennial), a National Poetry Series winner, was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. His second book, Silencer, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in September. Wicker's poems have appeared in The NationPoetryAmerican Poetry Review, and Oxford American. He teaches at the University of Memphis and is poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review.

    Visit Wicker's website

  • Graham Ehlers Sheldon

    Graham Ehlers Sheldon

    Filmmaker

    Emmy Award-winner Graham Ehlers Sheldon (B.A. '09, Theatre, Telecommunications) resides in Southern California, where he works as a producer and cinematographer. As a member of the Producers Guild of America, he has produced documentary and narrative projects on six continents. Recently, Sheldon was the director of photography for the indie horror film Dry Blood and was a producer on The Good Catholic, which premiered in theaters this September. Graham is also a writer for the filmmaking website Cinema5d. He married IU alumna Rin Ehlers Sheldon and together they founded Stand Up 8 Productions.

    Visit Sheldon's website

  • Elizabeth Oates

    Elizabeth Oates

    Vice president of finance and strategy

    Elizabeth Oates (B.A. ’07, Economics, Mathematics, LAMP) leads finance, strategy and consumer insights for Celebrity Cruises, which has been voted “Best Premium Cruise Line” for ten consecutive years by Travel Weekly’s Readers Choice Awards. Celebrity Cruises is one of six cruise brands operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Prior to joining the Celebrity brand, Oates led the strategy group for the corporation. In addition to her degree from IU, Oates earned an M.B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

  • Jianmiao Fan

    Jianmiao Fan

    CEO

    Jianmiao Fan (Ph.D. ’07, Chemistry) is the founder and CEO of dict.cn, a translation services company. While studying chemistry at IU, Fan first started the company as a side project. Today, the company and its website serve millions of unique users all over the world with online dictionary services. In addition, Fan’s company cooperates with more than a dozen traditional press groups in China and at Oxford University, providing guidance on working with digital content, issuing digital books, and publishing content on digital applications.

    Read more about Fan

  • Ami Gandhi

    Ami Gandhi

    Director of voting rights

    Ami Gandhi (B.A. ’01, Cognitive Science, Psychology) is director of voting rights and civic empowerment for Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Her work reduces barriers to voting and improves civic participation, especially in communities of color and low-income communities. Gandhi led statewide nonpartisan voter protection for the 2016 election and 2018 primary, and her experience also includes advocating for communities of color during Illinois redistricting and advising local election boards as they implemented the first Hindi ballots in the country. The recipient of the 2015 Changemaker Award from Chicago Fair Trade, Gandhi also serves on the board of Common Cause Illinois.

    Read more about Gandhi

  • Petra Slinkard

    Petra Slinkard

    Curator of fashion and textiles

    Petra Slinkard (B.A./B.S. ’03, History of Art, Apparel Merchandising, M.S. ’08, Apparel Merchandising) currently serves as the inaugural Nancy B. Putnam curator of fashion and textiles at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. She previously served as the curator of costume at the Chicago History Museum, where she conceived and curated two exhibitions: Chicago Styled: Fashioning the Magnificent Mile and Making Mainbocher | The First American Courtier, for which she authored catalogs of the same titles. Slinkard also lectures on various topics of fashion history to regional and national organizations, and she serves as a board member of the Costume Society of America.

    Read more about Slinkard