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Forward under 40 Awards Honor Seven UW-Madison Alumni

The Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) has recognized seven young alumni of the University of Wisconsin-Madison for their contributions in a wide variety of fields to the global community.

Contact: Kate Dixon, Wisconsin Alumni Association, (608) 265-8769,

2014 Forward under 40 Awards

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) has recognized seven young alumni of the University of Wisconsin-Madison for their contributions in a wide variety of fields to the global community.

WAA’s Forward under 40 Awards honor UW-Madison alumni under the age of 40 who are already making a significant impact on the world by upholding the Wisconsin Idea, the principle that the university community should improve people’s lives beyond the borders of campus.

This year’s award recipients are committed to making a difference, from advancing health care to innovating new technologies and creating cultural experiences to better connect people to one another.

“These Badgers are an inspiration to the rest of our campus community, and beyond this, they’re an inspiration to the global community,” says 1991 graduate Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, and a member of the national WAA Board of Directors who served on the award selection committee. “Each of them has turned their personal passion into something meaningful for society.”

The honorees are featured in the sixth edition of Forward under 40, a publication distributed in March 2014 to UW-Madison alumni and WAA members. The 2014 award recipients are:

  • Peter Drobac ’96, Rwanda and Boston, Mass. As the executive director at Partners in Health–Rwanda, Drobac plays an important role in improving health care options for critically ill people living in rural, impoverished communities. Drobac majored in psychology in the College of Letters & Science.
  • Ayse Gurses PhD’05, Baltimore, Md. Gurses is an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she is dedicated to improving patient safety by eliminating preventable errors in health care settings. Gurses majored in industrial engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • Luxme Hariharan ’04, MD’09, Miami, Fla. As a pediatric ophthalmology fellow at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Hariharan is helping children around the world experience the wonders of sight by treating — and preventing — vision problems that can lead to blindness. Hariharan majored in Latin American, Caribbean & Iberian Studies in the College of Letters & Science, and biology in the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences.
  • Jarius King ’09, Chicago. King travels the globe to foster youth appreciation for the arts and has founded an annual showcase for urban art and movement that is the first of its kind in Wisconsin. King majored in Chinese in the College of Letters & Science.
  • Tom Koch PhD’05, Westfield, Ind. As vice president of research at AgReliant Genetics, Koch is developing plant hybrids that are raising crop yields for rural farmers and making agricultural jobs possible in some of the poorest regions of the world. Koch’s degree is in plant breeding and plant genetics from the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences.
  • Anil Rathi ’97, Los Angeles. Rathi is the founder and CEO of Skild, a software service for professional contest organizers, and launched the Innovation Challenge, the world’s largest online innovation competition. Rathi majored in business and marketing in the Wisconsin School of Business.
  • Jessica Sack ’96, New Haven, Conn. Sack is the Jan and Frederick Mayer Senior Associate Curator of Public Education at the Yale University Art Gallery, where she develops cultural enrichment opportunities for children and adults. Sack majored in English, history and history of culture in the College of Letters & Science.

Honorees receive a commemorative silver medallion designed by artist Jason Noble ’07 and often engage with alumni, students and the campus community throughout the year. More than 85 alumni have been honored with a Forward under 40 Award since its creation in 2007.

More details and insights from this year’s honorees are at

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