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Purdue for Life Foundation
Gold Line


Gold Line

Keynote Speakers

Mung Chiang

President, Purdue University
Roscoe H. George Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Mung Chiang is president of Purdue University and the Roscoe H. George Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. From July 2017 to June 2022, he was the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering. From April 2021 to December 2022, he was the executive vice president for strategic initiatives.
As the engineering dean, he led the college to its first back-to-back “top four” graduate rankings in the U.S. while growing it to be the largest “top 10” undergraduate engineering college in the country. Undergraduate admissions applicant numbers, selectivity, yield rate, and graduation rate, as well as women and minority enrollment percentages, all achieved new records. The online program size more than quadrupled, while the ranking for best online master’s in engineering programs advanced to the top three in the U.S. New degrees were launched, and enrollment in professional master’s programs more than quadrupled.

Annual research awards surged over 70% in five years, including the largest federal funding and largest industry funding awards in college history, and 12 national research centers headquartered at or co-led by Purdue. Patent applications increased by about 40%, and the college contributed to Purdue’s Ever True campaign in excess of $1 billion. The “pinnacle of excellence at scale” in the college is further supported by 15 facility construction or renovation projects completed since 2017, including Dudley Hall and Lambertus Hall.

As an executive vice president of the university, Chiang worked with many colleagues to help launch initiatives in national security technology and semiconductor and life science manufacturing, in Discovery Park District at Purdue’s aerospace cluster and the Lab to Life residential neighborhood, and in economic growth through federal, state, and private-sector opportunities.

Previously, Chiang was the Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University, where he was the inaugural chairman of the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council and director of the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education. He helped launch entrepreneurial programs at Princeton and was named a New Jersey CEO of the Year (2014). He received a BS (honors) in electrical engineering and in mathematics and an MS and PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University.

As a researcher, Chiang received the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award (2013), the highest honor presented to an American researcher under the age of 40. For his pioneering work in edge computing, network utility maximization, and wireless resource allocation, he also received the IEEE INFOCOM Achievement Award (2022), Guggenheim Fellowship (2014), IEEE Kiyo Tomiyasu Award (2012), Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2008), and MIT Technology Review TR35 Award (2007). His research publications on internet congestion control and routing, wireless power control and scheduling, cloud and video optimization, smart data pricing, and social learning networks have received over 30,000 citations, with an h-index of 81, and won best paper prizes at IEEE INFOCOM (2012), IEEE SECON (2013), and ACM MobiHoc (2021). He was elected to the National Academy of Inventors (2020) and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (2021).

As a teacher, Chiang received the Distinguished Teaching Award in Engineering (2016) at Princeton for creating an interdisciplinary undergraduate course, flipping the classroom and teaching one of the university’s first massive open online courses, which has been taught to over 400,000 people. His textbook “Networked Life” (Cambridge University Press, 2012) received the ASEE Frederick E. Terman Award (2013) and an American Association of Publishers PROSE Award (2012). He has advised more than 50 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, including 24 who have become faculty in research universities.

As an inventor and entrepreneur, Chiang has 25 U.S. patents, most of which have been licensed and deployed by the communications and networking industry. He co-founded three startup companies in mobile networks, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things, based on the research at Princeton Edge Lab, and cofounded a global nonprofit, the OpenFog Consortium, now part of the global Industrial Internet Consortium. He was the founding CEO of DataMi, which has served over 60 million users around the world in bridging the digital divide.

As a diplomat and policymaker, Chiang was the science and technology advisor to the U.S. secretary of state and initiated the U.S. government’s tech diplomacy programs. Since returning from Washington, DC, in 2020, he cofounded the Krach Institute of Tech Diplomacy at Purdue and serves as the technology and innovation advisor to his home state of Indiana.

John Martinson (MS AAE’71)

Managing Partner, Edison Ventures

John Martinson has been a venture capitalist and software industry leader for 45 years. In 1986, he founded Edison Partners, which raised 10 growth-equity limited partnerships. Martinson is also an active individual investor and philanthropist.   
Edison Partners invested over $2.5 billion in 250 East Coast companies and realized 200 exits. Martinson participated in 250 equity financings. He specializes in software/services for health care education, financial, marketing, and business applications. Martinson has served on the board of directors for 95 companies. 

Martinson Ventures is primary investor in 50 emerging companies. Previously, Martinson invested in 70 private companies. He also invested in 25 private-equity partnerships. His investments span early stage, growth equity, buyouts, and secondary stock. He made initial commitment for five first-time venture funds. Martinson is a member of Golden Seeds, Jumpstart, and Delaware Crossing angel investor groups.  

Martinson Family Foundation (MFF) makes grants to educational and charitable programs. MFF funded and advised 50 multiple-year projects at 16 universities (Rutgers, Penn State, Purdue, Northwestern, etc.) to improve K-12 instruction in mathematics, science, technology, and engineering. These grants encompass curriculum development, new teaching methods, and continuing education for classroom teachers.     

Honors colleges and performing-arts technology are also philanthropic specialties. Martinson is lead honors donor at Purdue, U.S. Air Force Academy, Rowan, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Northeastern, and Southern Illinois of Edwardsville. He also backed Frederick Honors College at University of Pittsburgh. Martinson DAF supports performing-arts technology at Penn State, Rowan, Rider, and four regional theaters. Chronicle of Philanthropy listed Martinson among Top 50 U.S. Donors in 2022.  

He is past chairman and eight-year director of National Venture Capital Association. He served as chairman of PACT, leading venture and technology trade group in the Philadelphia area. New Jersey Technology Council was cofounded by Martinson who served as chairman. He headed Mid-Atlantic Venture Fair and cofounded New Jersey Venture Fair. Martinson was a director of five trade associations, 10 nonprofit organizations, and six universities. 

Martinson earned a BS in aeronautical engineering from U.S. Air Force Academy. He flew 500 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He earned his MS in astronautics from Purdue University and his MBA Beta Gamma Sigma from Southern Illinois University. Martinson received honorary doctorates from Rider, Rowan, Southern Illinois, and Thomas Edison Universities. He was selected 18th Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force Academy and serves on Foundation BOD. He received the Pinnacle Award for supporting engineering education programs at Purdue and was inducted into SIUE’s Hall of Fame.  

Martinson was inducted into NJBIZ and New Jersey Technology Council Hall of Fames. He received the NVCA Service Award for contributions to the venture-capital industry on a national level. Greater Philadelphia Venture Group presented the Blair Thompson Award to recognize Martinson’s lifetime venture-capital achievements. New Jersey Technology Council named its annual Entrepreneur Supporter Award after him. He was honored by Ernst & Young for NJ Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement, and PACT recognized Martinson with its Legend Award.  

Martinson’s hobbies include golf, travel, performing arts, fitness, and Thomas Edison memorabilia. 

Katie Gearlds (LA’07)

Head Coach, Purdue Women’s Basketball

Katie Gearlds enters her third season as head coach of the Purdue women’s basketball team.
Returning to her alma mater, the 2007 All-American was elevated to the head job in September 2021, becoming the ninth coach in program history.

Bill Elmore (ECE’75, MS ECE’76)

General Partner, Handshake Ventures

Bill Elmore is an active venture capitalist and philanthropist in Silicon Valley. He is the founder and general partner of Handshake Ventures, a venture-capital firm based in Palo Alto, California. Handshake Ventures primarily invests in startup and early-stage technology companies.
Prior to Handshake Ventures, Elmore cofounded Foundation Capital in 1995. Foundation Capital was an early investor in many innovative companies, including Atheros (the first commercialization of WiFi) and Financial Engines (one of the first fintech companies), as well as Netflix and Uber. With more than 35 IPOs and over 100 acquisitions, Foundation Capital is now investing in its 10th fund.

Elmore’s venture-capital philosophy has always been a “founders first” philosophy, operating on the belief that substantial, sustainable companies are the result of matching insight—whether about technology or market opportunity—with the right founding team.

He is equally passionate about his philanthropy work in the areas of math and science education, supporting first-generation college students, using entrepreneurship to alleviate extreme poverty, and Purdue University.

At Purdue, Elmore has been a member of the Engineering Advisory Council and currently serves on the board of the Purdue Research Foundation (PRF), including PRF’s subcommittees for Purdue’s endowment and entrepreneurship. He is a founding board member of the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue. In 2021, a $25 million gift established the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, where funds are used for named professorships, graduate-student scholarships, and the early establishment of “centers of innovative research.”

Elmore is a former director and past president of the Western Association for Venture Capitalists and a past director of the National Venture Capital Association. He has served on the advisory board of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and is a board member of the Eastside College Preparatory School.

He currently serves on the board or is an advisor to more than a dozen private companies, including Skin Spirit, XMOS, Directus, PocketLab, Pimly, and Past directorships include HitchWorks (acquired by ServiceNow), SpringCM (acquired by Docusign), Venafi (acquired by Thoma Bravo), Azure Power (NYSE: AZRE), Atheros Communications (NASDAQ: ATHR), Wind River Systems (NASDAQ: WINDl), Cloudshield (acquired by SAIC), and TeaLeaf Technologies (acquired by IBM).

Elmore holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is an active pilot, avid skier, and average golfer. He has three adult children and resides in Carmel, California.

Additional Speakers

Brooke Beier (BME’08, MS BME’10, PhD BME’11)

Senior Vice President, Purdue Innovates

Brooke Beier is senior vice president of Purdue Innovates, a conduit for industry partners and Purdue University alumni, faculty, staff, and students to align with resources for technology commercialization, intellectual property protection and licensing, and enterprise creation.
Beier oversees personnel at the Incubator, Startup Foundry, and Purdue Ventures who validate new startups and provide them with early-stage support. Under Purdue Innovates, she also manages the Office of Technology Commercialization, which vets, applies for patent protection, and licenses intellectual property developed at all Purdue campuses.

Beth Bostwick (M’89)

Serial Entrepreneur; Founder, Mainn

After spending over 15 years in large corporations, serial entrepreneur Beth Bostwick moved to Silicon Valley where she shifted gears and founded several businesses, including a self-service, point-of-sale company that transformed the food service and vending industries. It grew to process hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions every year and was later sold.
Bostwick was an early member of the Silicon Valley Boiler Innovation Group and has worked with many early-stage startups at Purdue. She has also participated as a coach and judge in numerous student pitch competitions through various campus programs. She was a founding member of the International Council of Purdue Women, a network to build connections for Purdue alumnae around the world to support each other through their life journey. She has participated several times in the Executive in Residence program offered through Residential Housing. Bostwick is a published author; her book “You Can Choose” is a collection of thoughts and observations about how powerful your thinking is to leading an empowered life.

Today Bostwick serves on the Purdue Alumni Association board, working with Purdue for Life to increase alumni engagement, and is focused on how to support other women interested in entrepreneurship.

John C. Boyle

Retired High-Tech Executive and Elected Official

John Boyle’s business experience includes both operations and finance in high-tech management and operational roles in organizations ranging from startups (VeriFone) to Fortune 100 companies (3Com, HP, GM). His operating experience includes an expat assignment (UK) and various marketing, business development, and M&A roles. He held partner and associate roles at multiple venture-capital firms, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Matrix Partners, and Worldview Technology Partners. Boyle also formed and served as director of the Purdue University West Coast Partnership Center (Mountain View, California).
Boyle’s community/volunteer work includes an elected four-year term as city councilman for the city of Menlo Park (2006–10), including roles as vice mayor and service on multiple finance and business-development committees for various city and county agencies. He currently serves as an elected director on the Bear Valley Water District board and on the boards of several local, community organizations.  

Previously, Boyle was chair of the San Mateo County GOP Central Committee and served in board positions with San Mateo County-based (nonprofit) Samaritan House, the San Mateo County Housing Endowment and Regional Trust, several school foundations, a local HOA, and other public sector boards and agencies.  

Boyle holds a bachelor’s degree with highest distinction in electrical engineering from Purdue University and an MBA degree with honors from Stanford University. He and his wife, Amy, have been married for 37 years and have proudly raised three children.

Jim Bullard

Dr. Samuel R. Allen Dean of the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business Distinguished Professor of Service

James “Jim” Bullard, the longest-serving sitting president of Federal Reserve Banks and one of the nation’s foremost economists and respected scholar-leaders, was chosen in July 2023 as the inaugural dean of the reimagined Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business at Purdue University.
Bullard, who took the reins as the Dr. Samuel R. Allen Dean on August 15, is charged with inspiring, further developing, and implementing Purdue’s reimagined approach to a top-ranked business school across undergraduate, graduate, executive, and research programs, preparing tomorrow’s business leaders and entrepreneurs in the Daniels School that is grounded in the principles of free enterprise, free market economy in generating opportunities and prosperity, and in the hallmarks of a well-rounded Purdue education and with a particular emphasis on tech-driven, analytics-based business success.

To further reflect and to maximize the impact of Bullard’s unique, national leadership experience, he also serves as special advisor to the president of the university, reporting to President Mung Chiang in that capacity. Bullard is also a Distinguished Professor of Service in the Daniels School’s Department of Economics.

Serving 15 years as the sitting president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Bullard earned significant praise and accolades for his longstanding leadership and innovative thinking as part of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in guiding the direction of U.S. monetary policy. A noted economist and scholar, Bullard had been the longest-serving Federal Reserve Bank president in the country and ranked as the seventh-most-influential economist in the world in 2014. His scholarly impact has been based on research-based thinking and intellectual openness to new theories and explanations. That allowed Bullard to be an early voice for economic change, helping the Federal Reserve deftly navigate complex economic landscapes such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial crisis during his tenure.

Before becoming president in 2008, Bullard served in various roles at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, starting in 1990 as an economist in the research division and later serving as vice president and deputy director of research for monetary analysis. For 15 years, he directed the activities of the Federal Reserve’s Eighth District, which branches into several states, including an extensive portion of southern Indiana. While serving on the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee, Macroeconomic Advisers named Bullard as the FOMC’s second-biggest mover of markets in 2010 behind Chairman Ben Bernanke and the biggest mover of markets in 2011 and 2013.

During his time as an academic economist and financial policy scholar, Bullard’s research has appeared in premier journals, including the American Economic Review; the Journal of Monetary Economics; Macroeconomic Dynamics; and the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking. The majority of his research is some form of macroeconomic analysis, focusing on monetary policy, inflation/deflation, and macroeconomic stability.

Bullard served as an honorary professor of economics at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also sat on the advisory council of the economics department as well as several advisory boards. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch named him the Top Workplace Leader among the region’s large employers as part of its 2018 Top Workplace Awards. Active in the community, Bullard has served on the board of directors of Concordance Academy of Leadership in St. Louis and was formerly the board chair of the United Way U.S.A. He is coeditor of the Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, a member of the editorial advisory board of the National Institute Economic Review, and a member of the Central Bank Research Association’s senior council.

Born in Wisconsin, Bullard grew up in Forest Lake, Minnesota, and received his doctorate in economics from Indiana University in Bloomington. He holds Bachelor of Science degrees in economics and in quantitative methods and information systems from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Christopher “Toph” Day (T’92)

CEO, Elevate Ventures

Toph Day is the CEO of Elevate Ventures, the No. 1 most active seed and early-stage investor in the Great Lakes region and No. 20 in the U.S. He is also the chief visionary for Rally, the largest cross-sector innovation conference.
Day has been an innovator, entrepreneur, business creator, community builder, job maker, and wealth creator throughout his endeavors over the last 30 years, having cofounded eight businesses in seven different sectors with multiple exits to Fortune 500 companies. He has led companies across multiple sectors, including artificial intelligence, SaaS, hardtech, broadband, entertainment, investment banking, and real estate.

Nathalie Duval-Couetil (MS EDU’99, PhD EDU’05)

Professor, Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation
Director of University Entrepreneurship Education Initiatives

Nathalie Duval-Couetil is a professor in the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation at Purdue University and the director of University Entrepreneurship Education Initiatives (Office of the Provost/Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship).
She is responsible for the launch and development of the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a university-wide program enrolling over 2,000 students per year. Through her leadership, the program has won the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education Model Program Award from the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the Deshpande Award for Excellence in Curriculum Innovation in Entrepreneurship, and became ranked among the Princeton Top 50 Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Programs. Prior to her work in academia, Duval-Couetil spent several years in the field of market research and business strategy consulting in Europe and the United States with Booz Allen and Hamilton and Data and Strategies Group. She received a BA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, an MBA from Babson College, and MS and PhD degrees from Purdue University.

Brian E. Edelman (MS M’84)

President, Purdue Research Foundation

Brian Edelman is president of Purdue Research Foundation (PRF) and former vice president of corporate finance and investment banking for Eli Lilly and Co. Edelman has a strong background in executive leadership, finance, and economic development.
Purdue Research Foundation supports Purdue University’s land-grant mission by helping the university improve the world through its technologies and graduates. Established in 1930, PRF is a private, nonprofit foundation.

Edelman leads the charge to patent and commercialize Purdue technologies and build places to encourage innovation, invention, investment, commercialization, and entrepreneurship. He has spearheaded the development of the nearly $1 billion Purdue Discovery Park District at Purdue, a 450-acre development on the west side of campus. The long-term community-development project will enhance the educational and life experiences of Purdue faculty, staff, students, visitors, and area residents.

At Eli Lilly and Co., Edelman’s responsibilities included the creation and execution of the company’s mergers and acquisitions strategy and the economic and financial analyses of licensing transactions. He gained 12 years of experience in the company’s financial component and 18 years of business development and strategy work during which he closed biotech, animal health, public, private, friendly, and hostile transactions totaling approximately $20 billion.

Edelman earned a BS in economics from Wabash College and his MS in finance from Purdue.

Abhijit Karve

Director of Business Development, Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC), Purdue Research Foundation

In his role as a project manager, Abhijit Karve evaluates the commercialization potential of invention disclosures in agriculture from Purdue University. Working as a liaison between the inventor and patent attorney, Karve develops strategies for the protection of the related intellectual property and oversees the drafting, negotiation, and execution of licenses linked to the technological innovations of Purdue faculty and students.
Karve holds a BS and MS in agriculture from India and a PhD in genetics from Clemson University, where as a graduate student he also received his certification in technology entrepreneurship. Karve’s dissertation work involved characterizing sugar sensing and signaling mechanism in model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. After completing graduate studies, he joined Oak Ridge National Lab, where he studied system-level responses to abiotic stress in plants using a functional genomics approach. Prior to joining OTC, he was a research associate at the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Lab in Upton, New York, where he studied physiology of sugar accumulation in sweet sorghum, a candidate bioenergy feedstock plant.

Emily Liggett (ChE’77)

Founder and CEO, Liggett Advisors

An executive, entrepreneur, board member, and business coach, Emily Liggett has focused her career on technology, both in established companies (DuPont, Raychem) and such startups as Capstone Turbine. She brings deep strategic and operational understanding of global products and services as well as scaling new businesses. The past 25 years she has served as CEO of public and private startup companies.
Today, Liggett serves on the boards of public and private companies and foundations. She spends much of her energy and focus on innovation, sustainability, renewable energy, and diversity through business involvement, investments, board work, mentoring, and coaching. She has been involved with the Silicon Valley Boiler Innovation Group since its inception.

Liggett holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Purdue and MBA and MSMSE degrees from Stanford University. She and her Purdue DVM husband live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have four adult children.

Philip Low

Presidential Scholar for Drug Discovery and the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry

Philip Low has pioneered the use of high-affinity targeting ligands to concentrate attached drugs specifically in diseased cells, thereby simultaneously improving drug potencies and reducing off-target toxicities. For this purpose, Low has designed low molecular weight targeting molecules for most human cancers, viruses/virus-infected cells, bone fracture surfaces, inflammatory macrophages, regulatory T cells, cancer-associated fibroblasts, myeloid-derived suppressor cells, antigen-presenting cells, and tumor-associated fibroblasts, among others.
Low’s tumor-targeted fluorescent dyes (e.g., Cytalux received expedited FDA approval in November 2021) are beginning to revolutionize cancer surgeries by enabling surgeons to find far more malignant lesions than previously possible. Low’s PSMA-targeted prostate cancer therapy (Pluvicto; FDA approved following receipt of “Breakthrough Status” on March 22, 2022) is generating >40% response rates in refractory metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer patients, offering hope for patients with previously untreatable tumors. Low’s companion diagnostic agent for Pluvicto (Locametz; FDA approved in March 2022) is enabling accurate selection of cancer patients for successful treatment with Pluvicto.

In the drug development pipeline, Low’s tumor-associated macrophage-targeted TLR7 agonists and regulatory T cell targeted immune stimulants enable the suppression of growth in nearly all solid tumors, and his universal CAR T cell therapy (phase 1 clinical trial initiated in 2022) has repeatedly shown an ability to eradicate solid tumors in animals. His recently launched bone fracture-targeted anabolic agents (clinical trials in 2024) are reducing fracture healing times in animals by >60% while generating repaired bone that is stronger than healthy bone, and his fibroblast activation protein-targeted PI3K inhibitor (preclinical) is halting fibrosis in animal models of fibrotic diseases.

Low’s influenza-targeted immunotherapy is >1,000x more potent than Tamiflu, and is rapidly progressing through preclinical development. Finally, Low’s therapy for malaria (phase 3 clinical trials in SE Asia; phase 2 trials in Africa) is eliminating parasitemia in all patients in <3 days, and his nontoxic treatment for sickle cell disease (phase 1 clinical trials) shows promise for alleviating the causes of SCD. With the demand for his targeted medicines continually rising and the breadth of diseases benefitted by his therapies expanding, the prospects for a continued stream of FDA-approved drugs emerging from his lab are exciting.

Tyler Mantel (ME’13, ChE’13)

Director, Purdue Innovates Startup Foundry

With a background in mechanical and chemical engineering from Purdue University, Tyler Matel is a prominent leader in deep-tech startup ventures and entrepreneurial success while fostering innovation and community. He actively supports early-stage companies as a mentor, advisor, and angel investor, and is recognized as a thought leader in the field. His commitment to advancing knowledge and innovation extends into positions as entrepreneur-in-residence at MassVentures and MassChallenge, and as an adjunct fellow at Harvard University, shaping the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders.
With extensive investor experience, Mantel has invested in seven companies over four years. He is an angel investor at Umami Capital, where he provides support to promising startups. He also serves as a board member for three startup companies, guiding their strategic direction.

As the former CEO and co-founder of Watertower Robotics, Mantel demonstrated his entrepreneurial expertise by developing cutting-edge technology to assist water utilities in conserving water and combating climate change. His firsthand experience in scaling startups, securing funding, and navigating the business landscape has shaped his understanding of startup challenges and opportunities.

Mantel’s commitment to addressing global challenges is evident through his cofounding of the Ventilator Project, showcasing his dedication to leveraging technology and entrepreneurship for positive impact. As the CEO and founder of TVP Health, he led the company to acquisition, positioning it as a recognized player in the industry. The work of TVP Health has even been displayed at the Smithsonian.

His contributions to the startup community have garnered recognition and established Mantel as a sought-after thought leader in the field. He has shared his expertise at events such as CES, Aspen Ideas Festival, and numerous other startup events across the U.S. He has been featured in podcasts and publications, including 99% Invisible, FastCompany, Cheddar News, and The Smithsonian.

As an investor, deep-tech operator, and entrepreneurial educator, Mantel is a respected leader in the startup ecosystem. At Purdue Innovates, his commitment to fostering innovation, combined with his practical experience as an angel investor, CEO, and founder, makes him an invaluable resource for Purdue-connected entrepreneurs seeking guidance, mentorship, and support in their startup journeys.

Curtis McKee (ECE’01)

Partner, Third Point Ventures

A partner at Third Point Ventures, Curtis McKee focuses on investments across the IT and data infrastructure landscapes. He is on the board of Atom Computing, Balbix, Banyan Security, and Unravel Data. Previously, McKee was AVP and the head of corporate and investor development at Arista Networks, where he led mergers and acquisitions, including the Big Switch Networks and Awake Security transactions, as well as ventures and investor relations. Prior to Arista, McKee was an investor and corporate development leader for Intel Capital, concentrating on Cloud, IOT, Enterprise SW, HPC, 5G, Edge/Networking, and AI sectors.
McKee also led operations as chief of staff and technical assistant for the Datacenter Group’s Enterprise Software Division. He joined Intel following the company’s acquisition of Fulcrum Microsystems, where he was head of business development. He began his career in engineering roles at Broadcom and Marvell. McKee holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in electrical engineering from Purdue.

Erik Miller (T’99)

Winemaker and Owner, Kokomo Winery

Winemaker and Kokomo Winery owner Erik Miller chose to honor his hometown of Kokomo, Indiana, when naming his winery and selected the coastal cypress tree as the logo to signify his move west. After graduating from Purdue University in 1999 with a degree in organizational leadership and supervision, he came to Sonoma County to pursue his dreams of living in a more temperate climate, surrounded by beautiful nature.
Miller’s first break in the wine industry came from a job he landed working crush at Belvedere Winery in the Russian River Valley. Starting at the ground level as a cellar worker, he formed an immediate connection to the industry. Miller enjoyed the combination of craftsmanship and physical labor involved in making such a refined product and quickly developed a passion for winemaking. Having grown up among the cornfields of Indiana, he felt a kinship with the agricultural lifestyle. After working that first harvest, Miller enrolled at UC Davis to study oenology.

While handling his duties in the cellar at Belvedere, Miller founded Kokomo Winery on the side with a 2004 single vineyard cabernet sauvignon from Dry Creek Valley. After the 2006 harvest, Kokomo Winery moved into its own facility at Timber Crest Farms in Dry Creek Valley. In 2011, Miller brought on a winery partner, Randy Peters, who is a fourth-generation farmer in Dry Creek Valley. This partnership with Peters completed the loop for Kokomo Winery, ensuring consistency in quality and terroir year after year.

Miller’s wife, Kimia, joined him at the winery in 2014 to help with administration and sales, allowing Miller to place more focus on winemaking. In 2018, he launched Breaking Bread, a natural wine brand that focuses on making wines with minimal intervention. The collection is crafted with lower alcohol, making the wines especially food friendly.

When not tending to the day-to-day running of the winery, Miller enjoys spending time with his wife and their two young sons.

Dan Moyers

Associate Director, Purdue Innovates Startup Foundry

With a deep expertise and extensive experience in startups, Dan Moyers joined the Purdue Innovates team in July, coming aboard as associate director of the Startup Foundry.
A B2B technology products and solutions-centric leader, Moyers enjoys a 30-year career that includes 25-plus years as an “operator” at various tech startups, several of which have grown into scale-ups. This includes being very early at 120Water, KSM Consulting, and cofounding a SaaS CRM company in home health care, cofounding the zWORKS entrepreneurial and coworking center, and founding Catchflo, a fishing-themed casual footwear brand.

His career has centered on building, transforming, and working with CEO founders and functional area teams to create, deliver, and support meaningful and innovative products and solutions. His style is anchored in marrying thought with action and applying technology to solve problems and meet user/market needs.

Using his past experiences, Moyers finds fulfillment in working with startup founders as an advisor, mentor, and angel investor to help those pursuing their entrepreneurial journey successfully bring their ideas to life, transition them into the startup phase, and then scaling their companies over time. Moyers is excited to amplify his passion and support the next generation of Boilermaker innovators as they grow from startup to scale-up and beyond.

In his free time, Moyers enjoys fly fishing, spending time with his wife and two kids, working with startup founders, growing his side hustle Catchflo, and embracing an RV-travel lifestyle six weeks a year out in epic southwest Colorado with his “Basecamp” RV.

Nickeytha Ramsey (HHS’14)

Founder, Junobie

Speaker bio is coming soon.

Justin Renfrow

Director, Purdue Innovates Incubator

Justin Renfrow joined the Purdue Innovates team earlier this year, bringing nearly two decades of experience in technology development and commercialization. Prior to his role with the Incubator, he held various positions with Cook Medical. Renfrow spent much of his career focused on working with physicians and inventors to take innovations from the lab to the marketplace and continues that mission working with Purdue-connected startups and technologies.
As a patented inventor himself, Renfrow is no stranger to early product development. As director of the Incubator, he’s tasked with advancing technology readiness levels, startup creation and de-risking, and engagement with student startups.

Cagri Savran

Founder and CEO, Savran Technologies Inc.

Speaker bio is coming soon.

Madison Sowards

Venture Community Manager, Startup Foundry

Madison Sowards, Foundry community manager at Purdue Innovates, is dedicated to bridging gaps within the Purdue innovation ecosystem by building a network of support and facilitating relationships between entrepreneurs and a global network of investors and industry experts. With a community-centric approach, Sowards convenes funders to drive capital to Purdue-connected startups.
In her former role as senior community manager at MassChallenge (MC), Sowards was responsible for cultivating the global innovation community through events, mentorship, speaking engagements, judging opportunities, and community partnerships. She spearheaded MC’s U.S. alumni relations, expert engagement, residency, and ecosystem partner strategies. In her time at MassChallenge, Sowards had also been responsible for driving meaningful relationships with the MC Partner network to meet corporate innovation goals and increase revenue growth as partnership success manager.

Coming from a background in marketing communications and experience at Glen Raven, Wray Ward, and Elon University’s Global Education Center, Sowards is passionate about leveraging the power of community to bolster brand awareness and customer loyalty.

Brielle Terry (MS AAE’15, PhD AAE’15)

Senior Director, Anduril Rocket Motor Systems

Speaker bio is coming soon.

Joe Watkins

Co-founder, Socio

Joe Watkins is the co-founder of Socio, one of Purdue’s most successful all-student startups. A South Bend native, he demonstrated his entrepreneurial drive beginning in high school, when he started working as a computer technology consultant, serving more than 600 clients. Following high school, Watkins attended Purdue as an engineering student and participated in the university’s Undergraduate Co-op Program, gaining three years of hands-on experience in engineering and computer science with S&C Electric Company in Chicago.
Watkins’s entrepreneurial focus moved forward at Purdue, where he—together with Purdue undergraduates Yarkin Sakucoglu and Alihan Ozbayrak—cofounded Socio, a modern event technology platform that manages the full lifecycle of multisession, multitrack virtual, in-person, and hybrid conferences—from registration to post-event analytics. Headquartered in Indianapolis and with an office in Istanbul, Socio built up a prestigious list of enterprise customers, including Microsoft, Google, PepsiCo, Comcast, and Hyundai, and raised $6.7 million in funding. Socio’s success earned Watkins and his co-founders a Forbes 30 Under 30 award in 2020. In July 2021, Fortune 100 company Cisco acquired Socio, now known as Webex Events, where Watkins now serves as chief customer officer and is responsible for net revenue retention.