Tahllee Baynard

Research Science Manager, Lockheed Martin
Cornell College, Class of 1997
Tahllee Baynard Headshot

​​“We live in an age of unprecedented opportunities. If you’ve got ambition and smarts, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession, regardless of where you started out.”

—Peter Drucker, management consultant, educator, and author, 2005
I often state that attending Cornell College was one of my best decisions and investments. I proudly wear my college shirt on weekends, which serves as a great conversation starter. Some people confuse Cornell College with Cornell University, but in a short time I highlight the liberal arts college in Mount Vernon, Iowa. The conversation naturally shifts to what I do now and how a liberal arts education supports a successful career in technology.
I initially thought I was going to college to study science and mathematics. Instead, I ended up developing the much broader combination of knowledge, skills, and perspective required for success in today’s world. By the time I started my PhD, I was an independent scientist and able to decompose research problems into solvable projects, learn new topics, leverage material from other fields, and synthesize the results into a solution or new knowledge. In hindsight, I credit the cohesive combination of courses and engagement with my peers and professors at Cornell College.
All college experiences are unique, but Cornell College leverages a framework so that the undergraduate experience is applicable and can be remembered and leveraged for a lifetime. Cornell College provides a liberal arts education, in a small college setting, with caring and excellent faculty, meaningful curriculum, and One-Course-At-A-Time. There are few places that have such a rich offering of accessible opportunities for the open-minded individual ready to explore, take risk, and change their life. One-Course-At-A-Time is an intense study of one course for just under four weeks. This provides the opportunity to study a given body of knowledge without juggling other topics and assignments. It is an immersion that reinforces and hones attributes for earlier life and career success that requires planning, prioritizing, gathering information, and problem solving.
I didn’t have a crystal ball to tell me what knowledge would be important for my future pursuits. My decision and experience at college minimized the need to accurately predict the future. I developed tools that are flexible and useful for a changing world and my evolving interests.
I have a daughter that has just started looking at colleges, so the discussion about college selection is in full swing at my house. Even though there have been significant changes since I attended college, the same aspects that made a liberal arts education a great choice for me continues to be pertinent for today’s young adults ready to head off to college.​

Dr. Tahllee Baynard is a research science manager for optics and electro-optics at Lockheed Martin’s Research and Development Laboratories in Silicon Valley.
Previously, Baynard was a research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado, where he studied air quality and climate change.
Baynard was named the 2012 Scientist of the Year by Black Engineer and Information Technology magazine. He was a chemistry and history major at Cornell College and earned a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago in 2002.