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40 Under 40: 2016

Meet our 2016 class of 40 Pittsburghers Under 40 who are changing our region – and the world – for the better.



(page 10 of 11)


 

Shinjini Kundu   [25]
MD/PhD candidate, University of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Mellon University


She finished high school at 16, completed both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at age 20, earned a Ph.D. at 25 and is on target to complete an MD degree next year at the Pitt School of Medicine.

The lightning speed of Shinjini Kundu’s academic progress could test the laws of physics, much less those of probability. How can one star shine so brightly?

Kundu already has broken new ground in her doctoral field of biomedical engineering. Her dissertation work, building on her electrical-engineering degree from Stanford University, explores ways to “train” computers to spot patterns in medical images that escape the human eye. The new technology enables osteoarthritis to be detected three years before symptoms appear.

It’s hard to imagine she has spare time, but along with promoting women in STEM professions and coordinating the Women in Science and Medicine Association, Kundu finds time for writing, travel and Indian dance. Kids these days.

You’d be surprised to know ... I’m a trained Indian classical dancer and have performed at Madison Square Garden.
 

Dr. Ermias Abebe   [33]
Instructional Faculty, Orthopedic Surgery Department, UPMC Medical Center


Growing up in Ethiopia, Dr. Ermias Abebe saw friends suffer through surgeries to repair the random damage of injuries that were a fact of life in a country perennially at war.

His family came to America when he was 12. Now 33, he works 80-hour weeks at UPMC, treating orthopedic injuries, teaching medical students and mentoring two of them as they applied for the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.

Outside of the hospital, Abebe is team physician for the Mt. Lebanon High School varsity football team, standing on the sidelines and watching battles worth having.

On other days, he can be found working in the soup kitchen at St. Mary of Mercy Church, Downtown.

You’d be surprised to know ... I am naturally shy and reserved. Answering the call of a surgical subspecialty and rising to the challenges of life and service that I chose required extraordinary communication skills unfamiliar to me as an introvert. These processes enriched my communication capacities and helped me shed my comfortable muted inclinations for more traditional extroverted roles.
 

The Rev. John Creasy   [39]
Associate Pastor, Open Door Church; Director, Garfield Community Farm 


The Rev. John Creasy turned 30 empty lots into Garfield Community Farm, a living experiment in sustainability that turns out thousands of pounds of healthy produce for a neighborhood once devoid of fresh food.

An ordained Presbyterian minister who serves at the Open Door Church, Creasy also holds a certificate in permaculture design.

On taking his post at Open Door, Creasy was determined to combine his ministry with service to the overall neighborhood. Creasy sells produce to local restaurants but also remains determined to see to it that the bulk of Garfield Community Farm produce ends up on the plates of local residents. He launched a mobile market this summer to get food to the people.  

You’d be surprised to know ... I also work with a Mexican doctor and his family on a project we call the “Mexico Food Forest Project.” Through this project, we work with an indigenous people group living in central Mexico called the Xi’úi. While they have taught me a great deal about sustainability and multi-crop planting strategies, we’ve helped them plant hundreds of fruit trees in their fields and forest edges.
 

​Rosamaria Cristello   [27]
Director of the Latino Family Center, Allegheny Intermediate Unit


​Rosamaria Cristello came here from Guatemala when she was less than a year old and has spent the ensuing years welcoming others to our region.

At 24, she became director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Latino Family Center in Hazelwood. It has become a focal point for the city’s growing Hispanic community to share a common bond as they join in what de Tocqueville called “The American Experiment.”

Partnering with A+ Schools, Cristello also created Latino Parents United in Action, promoting the needs of the community in the city’s public schools. Cristello also led a Latino Needs Assessment to better understand the Latino community in Allegheny County.

She’s doing this and more while completing a master’s degree in public administration at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Cristello recently received the inaugural Spirit of ATHENA scholarship, allowing her to attend the leadership and negotiation academy at CMU.

The biggest thing I ever had to overcome ... Completing the Pittsburgh Marathon [in 2015]. It was my first marathon, and after all of the training I injured my knee the week of the marathon so I had to run with the knee injury. But the process of training and finally crossing the finish line teaches you a lot of life lessons and was a huge accomplishment for me.
 

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