The College's 20 Under 40

Our fourth-annual list of amazing young alumni.


In the College of Arts and Sciences, disciplines interrelate, ideas blossom, and graduates emerge enriched and changed. Our alumni never stop learning, never stop changing, never stop striving to make the world a better place.

They’re entrepreneurs. Authors. Scientists. Actors. Economists. Chemists. Journalists. They’re changing the world, and we’re proud of the incredible community of lifelong learning that they’ve created.

The College of Arts and Sciences is thrilled to present our fourth-annual list of amazing young alumni.

  • Kaleb Ryan

    Kaleb Ryan

    Clothing designer

    Kaleb Ryan (B.G.S. ’06, General Studies) is the owner of Elevated Citizen, a Bloomington-based men and women’s custom clothier. Noting a lack of unique modern design in custom menswear, he founded Elevated Citizen in 2013. With personal attention to his clients’ lifestyles and needs in combination with his distinctive designs, Ryan has grown it into a seven-figure business with clients across the U.S. and representing multiple college and professional sports teams. Elevated Citizen recently expanded into custom-designed and fit womenswear, an offering that meets a significant gap in the market for female professionals.

    Visit Elevated Citizen's website

  • Isak Nti Asare

    Isak Nti Asare


    Isak Nti Asare (B.A. ’11, Linguistics, Political Science) is the associate director of the Indiana University Cybersecurity and Global Policy Program. He is also a senior associate at Oxford Insights, a fellow at the IU Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, and co-founder of FairFrame — a startup using natural language processing to identify implicit bias in text. Nti Asare has advised national and local governments on the strategic, cultural, and leadership opportunities from digital transformation and artificial intelligence (AI). For example, he co-authored Mexico's National AI Strategy, co-founded the UK cross-governmental community of practice on AI, and co-authored the first city-led AI strategy in the United States.

  • Sougwen 愫君 Chung

    Sougwen 愫君 Chung

    Artist and researcher

    Sougwen 愫君 Chung (B.F.A. ’07, Fine Arts) is a Chinese-Canadian artist and (re)searcher based in New York. Chung’s work explores the mark-made-by-hand and the mark-made-by-machine as an approach to understanding the dynamics of humans and systems. Chung is a former research fellow at MIT’s Media Lab and a pioneer in the field of human-machine collaboration. In 2019, she was selected as the Woman of the Year in Monaco for achievement in the arts and sciences.

    Watch Chung's TED Talk

  • Danielle Paquette

    Danielle Paquette

    Foreign correspondent

    Danielle Paquette (B.A. ’12, Journalism) is the West Africa bureau chief for The Washington Post. She launched the bureau in 2019 and leads coverage of more than a dozen countries. Her work has won numerous journalism awards — including an Overseas Press Club prize this year for best international reporting with concern for the human condition. Paquette grew up in Plainfield, Ind., and got her start at the Indiana Daily Student. She lives in Dakar, Senegal, with her husband Scott and their former street dog Evie.

  • Megan Giddings

    Megan Giddings


    Megan Giddings (M.F.A. ’18, Creative Writing) is an assistant professor at Michigan State University and a mentor in the Antioch University low-residency M.F.A. program. Her first novel, Lakewood, was published by Amistad in March 2020. Lakewood was named one of NPR’s best books of 2020 and one of the ten best books of the year by New York Magazine. It was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and for an LA Times Ray Bradbury Book Prize for Speculative, Science Fiction, and Fantasy works. Her second novel, The Women Could Fly, will be published by Amistad in August 2022.

    Read more about Giddings

  • Alexander Richter

    Alexander Richter


    Alexander Richter (M.A. ’09, Ph.D. ’12, Economics) is an economic policy advisor and senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He is also director of the BigTex High Performance Computing Cluster, which provides computational resources for economists throughout the Federal Reserve System. Richter joined the Fed in 2016. Prior to that, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at Auburn University for four years. His research interests include labor economics, monetary policy, fiscal policy, and computational economics. His recent work examines the business cycle implications of labor market search frictions, firm entry and exit, uncertainty, and the Fed’s zero interest rate policy.

  • Liz Bohannon

    Liz Bohannon


    Nashville based singer-songwriter Liz Bohannon (B.A. ’10, Individualized Major Program) has been working in the music industry for the last decade as a writer and performing artist. A Singing Hoosier alum, she credits her love for jazz and the “Great American Songbook” as notable influences on her music. Her debut EP Gotta Give It Up (2016) was produced by Grammy award-winner Daniel Tashian, and she has since followed up with Wanted (2021). Bohannon has had multiple film/television placements on major networks and is currently gearing up for her next release, produced by Jeff Trott (Sheryl Crow). Visit her on Instagram @lizbohannonofficial.

    Visit Bohannon's website

  • Ranveer Singh

    Ranveer Singh


    Internationally known for his work in Hindi films, Ranveer Singh (B.A. ’08, Telecommunications) is one of the most popular and acclaimed actors in India. Among many other honors, he won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor in 2016 for Bajirao Mastani and won the award again in 2020 for his lead role in Gully Boy. He’s starred in more than a dozen major motion pictures, many of which rank among the highest-grossing Indian films ever made. Singh is a fixture in many international publications, appearing on Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list every year since 2012 and having been featured multiple times by GQ as one of the world’s most influential young Indians.

  • Caleb Marshall

    Caleb Marshall

    Entrepreneur and digital creator

    Caleb Marshall (B.A. ’15, Telecommunications), aka “The Fitness Marshall,” is the Internet's favorite fitness pop star. With more than 4 million followers across social media, Marshall has been hailed as the modern day Richard Simmons meets Britney Spears. After building The Fitness Marshall YouTube channel to over 3 million subscribers and 500 million views, Marshall began teaching live cardio concerts around the world to sellout crowds and has become one of YouTube’s top creators. He also recently launched Active Booty, an inclusive activewear line celebrating all shapes and sizes.

    Visit The Fitness Marshall's YouTube channel

  • Yecenia Tostado

    Yecenia Tostado

    Executive director

    Yecenia Tostado (B.A. ’05, Psychology, Spanish) is the executive director of Project Azul, a nonprofit that provides individuals with flexible training and financial assistance to transition from unemployment or underemployment into a pathway to career advancement. Prior to her executive director role, she worked as associate director of Indy Achieves, an initiative by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett to increase the percentage of residents in Marion County with a high-quality postsecondary credential to 65 percent by 2027. Tostado also holds an M.P.A. from the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI and was recognized in the Indianapolis Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class of 2020.

  • Sarah C. Keane

    Sarah C. Keane

    Biophysicist and professor

    Sarah C. Keane (Ph.D. ’12, Chemistry) is a structural biologist interested in understanding how RNAs contribute to health and disease. As a graduate student at IU, her thesis research focused on structural and mechanistic aspects of key steps in the coronavirus lifecycle. She then pursued postdoctoral studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where she specialized in HIV RNA structural biology. She’s currently an assistant professor of biophysics and the William Roush Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan. She was named a 2020 Pew Biomedical Scholar and has received both an NSF CAREER award and NIH funding to support her research.

    Read more about Keane's lab

  • Matt Starr

    Matt Starr


    Matt Starr (B.F.A./B.A. ’13, Fine Arts, Individualized Major Program) is a New York-based artist, filmmaker, and poet. He remade the film Annie Hall starring senior citizens, which was featured in The New York Times and on CBS Sunday Morning, and hosted a “Long Distance Movie Club” during the pandemic with senior homes around the country. Starr created the viral trends Babycore and Amazon Boy, and he directed the music video “Dope Walk” for A$AP Ferg. He also worked on a collaboration with Planned Parenthood called the Museum of Banned Objects. He’s currently in development on a few television shows. Likes: Sex and the City, coffee, and bookstores. Dislikes: Meat and scaffolding.

    Visit Starr's website

  • Adrian Land

    Adrian Land


    Adrian D. Land (Ph.D. ’11, Microbiology) began his scientific career as a forensic microbiologist with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. In his current role as a senior regulatory affairs manager at Procter & Gamble, Land supports global business operations at the interface of research and development and the external regulatory environment. His early career achievements have garnered recognition in multiple scientific journals, including profiles in American Society for Microbiology Magazine and Science magazine. Land is also passionate about broadening access to STEM careers for students of color. He serves on the Biology Department Advisory Board for Alcorn State University and was recently named among the most “Inspiring Black Scientists in America” by Cell Press.

  • Elyse Werling

    Elyse Werling

    Museum professional

    Elyse Werling (B.A. ’13, History, Anthropology) is the editorial and production manager at the White House Historical Association, where she produces the magazine journal White House History Quarterly. Werling holds an M.A. in history and museum studies from Tufts University and her research has been published in Antiques and the Arts Weekly, Historic New England Magazine, and White House History Quarterly. She previously worked at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Historic New England, where she opened the Eustis Estate Museum near Boston. She credits the foundation of her career to the experience she gained as an undergraduate while working at IU’s Sage Collection and the Monroe County History Center.

    Visit Werling's LinkedIn page

  • Shartara Miller

    Shartara Miller


    Shartara Miller (B.A. ’09 Criminal Justice) is the head principal of E Prep Willard, a Breakthrough Public School, based in the west side of Cleveland. As a Teach For America alum, Miller continues to walk in her purpose through leading and developing teachers and leaders while serving and partnering with families to help ensure an equitable, quality education is provided in Black and Brown communities. She’s served as a fellow for Leaders for Emerging Network of Schools, the All-Stars Project of San Francisco, and as a panelist for the NAACP, Cleveland Branch, and she was recently interviewed by Cleveland’s radio stations as a call to action that all children — no matter the background or race — deserve a sound education with unconditional love and support.

    Visit Miller's LinkedIn page

  • Mohammed A. and Mohammed M. Mahdi

    Mohammed A. and Mohammed M. Mahdi


    Brothers Mohammed A. Mahdi (B.A. '17, Political Science), left, and Mohammed M. Mahdi (B.A. '06, Psychology), right, are founders and co-owners of The Mad Optimist, an Indiana-based company that makes customized soap, shampoo, and other body care products. They devised a way to make vegan soap that’s ready for immediate use, unlike other natural soaps that take days or even weeks to cure. Soon after, they added lip balms, bath soaks and body sprays to their line. When The Mad Optimist team pitched their product on the Season 11 finale of ABC’s Shark Tank, they landed an investment from IU alumnus and billionaire Mark Cuban. The Mahdi brothers are passionate about making high-quality soap that is accessible to everyone.

    Visit The Mad Optimist's website

  • Ian Damont Martin

    Ian Damont Martin

    Writer and artistic director

    Ian Damont Martin (B.A. ’16, Theatre) is a writer/director by passion and a creative executive by trade. Martin (he/they) is the artistic director of Haven Chicago and the executive director of inclusion and belonging at the Art Institute of Chicago. He's worked with a number of arts and cultural institutions, including Enrich Chicago: a collaborative of arts, culture, and funding institutions collectively engaging in the work of anti-racist and racial equity organizing. In 2016, he was awarded the Joyce Foundation artistic producing apprenticeship at the Goodman Theatre. Martin is originally from Cincinnati and gives love and gratitude to the people who helped shape the person he is today.

    Visit Martin's website

  • Dan Smedema and Luke Jacobs

    Dan Smedema and Luke Jacobs


    Dan Smedema (B.S. ’15, Cognitive Science), left, and Luke Jacobs (B.S. ’15, Environmental Science), right, are the co-founders of Encamp, an environmental compliance software company based in Indianapolis. Encamp recently raised $12 million in Series B funding, marking one of the biggest rounds raised in Indiana this year. The company was founded in 2017 and supports clients who need to gather and document environmental compliance information. With Jacobs serving as CEO and Smedema architecting its software, the company has grown to assist more than 2,500 facilities and 170 clients, including several Fortune 500 companies.

    Read more about Jacobs and Smedema

  • Sabrina Medora

    Sabrina Medora

    Food writer

    Sabrina Medora (B.A. ’11, Criminal Justice, Sociology) is a national food writer and hospitality industry insider. Her passionate and thoughtful pieces have appeared in Food & Wine, Eater, Heated, Plate Magazine, The Kitchn, Wine Enthusiast, and more. In 2018, she founded the multimedia platform Un-Plated to host dynamic events with the James Beard Foundation as well as pop-up dinners with celebrity chefs and respected restaurants in Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., and Southern California. Medora’s events typically involve charitable components. Currently, she’s penning a young adult fiction book. She lives in San Diego with her husband and dog. Follow her on Instagram @sabrinamedora.

    Visit Medora's website

  • Elizabeth Klehfoth

    Elizabeth Klehfoth


    Elizabeth Klehfoth (M.F.A. ’14, Creative Writing) is the author of All These Beautiful Strangers (William Morrow/HarperCollins), a twisty thriller that Library Journal called “a worthy, page-turning debut that will keep readers guessing until the end.” Her debut has been published in nearly a dozen international territories and a feature film adaptation is currently in development with Bruna Papandrea (producer of Gone Girl, Big Little Lies, and The Undoing) at the helm. Klehfoth lives and writes in Los Angeles where she is hard at work on her next novel.

    Visit Klehfoth's website